A Conversation With Ameca – The Humanoid Robot

Ameca has already proven to be an impressive demonstration of state-of-the-art humanoid robots, with her uncanny ability to contort her face into extremely believable, human-like expressions, ranging from disbelief to disgust. Now, thanks to the power of GPT 3, Ameca is able to converse as well, in an impressive extension of what modern robots are capable of.

VICTOR TANGERMANN – THEY PUT GPT-3 INTO THAT ROBOT WITH CREEPILY REALISTIC FACIAL EXPRESSIONS AND YIKES

I recently saw an article that once again shows the amazing advancement of humanoid robots. The article makes a point of saying that nothing in the video below is pre-scripted. Ameca uses a speech synthesizer and OpenAI’s GPT 3 to produce human-like text. In answering a question about the role of humanoid robots, Ameca said this:

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Robot Shows A Wide Range Of Facial Expressions

When I first posted a video of Ameca defending her personal space, the reaction ranged from fascinating to creepy. I would expect a similar reaction to this new video released by Engineered Arts. They have been working on teaching Ameca a wider range of facial expressions, with twelve new actuators added. See for yourself.

How Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Everything

In 2015, best-selling author Martin Ford gave us Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future. In the fall of 2021, he followed that up with Rule of the Robots: How Artificial Intelligence (AI) Will Transform Everything. In his recent book, he explores various aspects of artificial intelligence – both positive and negative. He likens AI to electricity, perhaps the greatest general-purpose technology the world has ever known. A general-purpose technology is pervasive, improving over time, and able to spawn new innovations. In the Second Machine Age, the authors describe this phenomenon as a common element of each industrial revolution, including steam (First), electricity, Telephone, and internal combustion engine (second), and Internet (third).

We can go all the way back to fire to witness the impact of these pervasive innovations. In an article from July of 2021, Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google’s owner Alphabet, said that he believes artificial intelligence (AI) will eventually have a bigger impact than fire, electricity, and the Internet. This poll from my post on the topic explored the reaction to that belief. Fifty-eight percent of respondents agreed with him. Please take the poll and lend your voice to the conversation.

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Humanoid Robot Defends Personal Space

Many prognosticators expect a robotic tipping point this year. We are witnessing the acceleration of the robotic journey with advancements appearing at a dizzying pace. Unlike the robots of the past, these advancements might freak us out – as it did to the folks at Engineered Arts when they witnessed this reaction by their humanoid robot. See video below.

Humanoid Robots Making Remarkable Progress

A picture is worth a thousand words. I’ve written recently about our robotic journey and everyday robots – but to that adage about pictures, this video says it all about accelerating progress. This recent article describes how This lifelike robot is terrifying everyone with its realism.

The Acceleration Of The Robotic Journey

Although predictions these days may be even more difficult given our complex systems are progressing and scaling at an unprecedented rate, a macro-level focus can provide an ability to scan beyond the horizon. So rather than attempt to predict, here are my 2019 thoughts on several macro-level forces.

Frank Diana – What to Expect in 2019

That quote comes from a post I wrote to usher in 2019. One of those macro-level forces was acceleration (the other two were convergence and a burst of possibilities). As we close 2021, acceleration is all around us, but in 2019, no one knew that a pandemic would enable a great acceleration. There are countless examples of how the pandemic pulled possible futures forward, and one such example is robotics. In a recent article, Greg Nichols says that there is no denying we’re in the midst of a robotic renaissance, as industries like construction and delivery reach a tipping point.

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Everyday Robots

A recent article via Evan Ackerman takes a look at Alphabet’s Everyday Robots. Several videos are provided via the article (a couple are included below). He provides an entertaining analysis of each video and some perspective as well.

I’m a little bit torn on this whole thing. A fleet of 100 mobile manipulators is amazing. Pouring money and people into solving hard robotics problems is also amazing. I’m just not sure that the vision of an “Everyday Robot” that we’re being asked to buy into is necessarily a realistic one.

Evan Ackerman – Years Later, Alphabet’s Everyday Robots Have Made Some Progress
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Tesla Pursues Humanoid Robots

Move over Sophia you might have company. At Tesla’s AI Day, Elon Musk said the company plans to build a robot in human form, leveraging some of its vehicle technology. The path of humanoid robots much like everything else, will go in two possible directions. Constructively, care robots, companion robots, and those that handle difficult repetitive tasks, help address mounting challenges as well as long-standing ones. On the destructive side, these robots may someday encroach upon those traits that make us distinctly human. Our path forward continues to represent a balancing act. Elon Musk describes his vision in the video below.

Companion Robots And Mental Health

What is your initial reaction to this question. Please respond to the poll.

Dancing Robots – How Do You React?

By now, many of you may have seen this video of dancing robots. Yet another remarkable accomplishment delivered to us by Boston Dynamics. The reaction to this video has been varied. Many view it with fascination, while others fear. Those reactions reflect the broader response to possible emerging futures. This recent Article views dancing robots as a really big problem, going as far as calling them unethical. This One sees them as fun and games – until they murder us. Yet Another sees them as eerie, yet marvels at the accomplishment. Finally, this Look at the video calls it unsettling. What about you? What is your immediate reaction when viewing this video? Take the poll below and select your initial reaction.

Robots And The Future Of Work

The phrase “The robots are coming” is often repeated these days. What does their arrival mean for the future of work? That question has short term implications, and the potential for profound long-term impacts. Ask around and you get vastly different perspectives on the question. We seem as polarized on the topic as we are about anything these days. A very good perspective was provided recently in an Article authored by Daphne Leprince-Ringuet. The article explores the possible changes to work as robots become a common feature in the work environment.

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The Globotics Upheaval

In a recent book, Richard Baldwin takes us on a fascinating journey to the past, and then provides a peak into the next great transformation. In The Globotics Upheaval, Mr. Baldwin describes a cycle that has played out multiple times throughout human history. The cycle of transformation, upheaval, backlash and resolution (Let’s call it TUBS) was experienced each time the world entered periods of major disruption. The Globotics UpheavalMr. Baldwin introduces the Globotics Transformation as the third great economic transformation to shape our societies over the past three centuries. As he describes, the first was known as the Great Transformation started in the early 1700s, and it switched societies from agriculture to industrial and from rural to urban. The second started in the early 1970s, shifting the focus from industry to services – the Services Transformation. I take a different view of transformation in the context of Tipping Points – but the cycle is the same.

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Video Playlist Highlights Changes in the World of Sports

After producing a short video on the Future of Sports, the reimagining the future team curated a video playlist that explores potential changes in the world of sports – influenced by various advances in science and technology. The short introductory video above provides a link to the playlist. The poll below looks at who is most impacted by these changes – please take a moment to respond to the poll.

Tipping Points in Human History

I’ve been talking lately about the two main tipping points in human history: from hunter-gatherer to agriculture, and agriculture to our industrial society. That second tipping point beginning about 1760 ushered in three revolutions. The First Industrial Revolution  saw the rise of iron and textile industries and the mechanization of production through the use of water and the steam engine. This second tipping point saw a reduction in physical labor and a shift in where new forms of labor were required. The Second Industrial Revolution started in 1870,  riding advances such as electricity, telephone and the internal combustion engine to drive rapid industrialization and globalization. A massive disruption followed, as established sectors were eliminated and new ones emerged.

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Loneliness, Aging, Robots and Health

At the Health Summit in D.C. last week, I used this emerging future visual to describe the combination of building blocks that enable our healthy life extension – one of many emerging future scenarios. This two minute video captures that portion of our panel discussion.

One of the key issues that emerged during our panel dialog was the acceleration of aging and death associated with isolation and loneliness. Could robotic companions solve this problem? Do these advances – many that feel like science fiction – combine to solve the challenges that likely emerge as we live longer? Can Sophia be a robotic companion?

Future Sports: Connecting the Dots

Last week, I presented on the future of sports at a fund raiser for the Rutgers University Women’s Soccer team. A local Article on the topic captured the high-level themes, but for those interested, here is the full presentation along with two very good reports I tapped into from Delaware North on the future of sports: The Future of Sports 2016 Report and The Future of Sports 2015 Report.

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Artificial Intelligence Intersects with Robotics

In his twelfth post in the series, Marshall Kirkpatrick focuses on the intersection between artificial intelligence and robotics. By way of reminder, Marshall launched a 30 day series that explores the intersection between AI and the various innovation components on my emerging futures visual.

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The Modern Workforce: Four Crucial Shifts

Here is the summary of a recent article I wrote for the Insurance Innovation Reporter. Please visit their site to see the full Article.

Accelerating advancements in science and technology have set the foundation for massive shifts in the decades ahead, yet we continue to operate on a platform meant for a different time. This platform has hit a productivity wall, and a new emerging platform has changed the expectations of those we engage with. As they advance, these shifts will challenge our long held beliefs and intuition, while changing long standing business models across industries. In the face of this, organizations must unlearn what they know and embrace new ways of thinking. This is especially important in our approach to the workforce and the evolution of our management paradigm. How we lead the modern workforce will require change, and it starts with four crucial shifts: embrace a new way of working, move towards a collaborative management paradigm, value human characteristics, and plug into the emerging platform.

Technology, Social Change, and Future Scenarios

If we are to Think about the Future in a way that helps us thrive in that future, we must excel at connecting dots. I developed the Future Scenarios visual in an attempt to help visualize the dots, as well as the various intersections that amplify the impact of those dots. In parallel with this scenario view, I have looked at various aspects of social change that both influence and impact these scenarios – and vice versa – but until now, those views were separate. Convergence is occurring not just across the technology and future scenario curves, but also the various aspects of social change. So in the interest of maximizing future thinking impact, I have combined the two views and will describe a connecting the dots scenario. First, the new future scenario visual:

emerging-future

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World Economic Forum – Deep Shift

A must read on six mega-trends, their tipping points and societal impacts. I recommend this for anyone with interest in where the world is heading, and/or tasked with future thinking in the context of strategy. I commend the World Economic Forum for their efforts here, as education is likely to spur action. The six mega-trends are:

  1. People and the internet
  2. Computing, communications and storage everywhere
  3. The Internet of Things
  4. Artificial intelligence (AI) and big data
  5. The sharing economy and distributed trust
  6. The digitization of matter

Here is a tipping point timeline from the report:

Tipping Points Timeline

Many leaders are struggling with the sheer number of future scenarios and some indication of when the tipping point may arrive. This material provides critical input into the scenario and response analysis process. Enjoy the read.