Monday, June 27, 2016

Sunday Globe Special: Terminator Told The Truth

Some are saying it's more like Iron Man, but I haven't seen that series:

"Pentagon examining the ‘killer robot’ threat" by Dan Lamothe Washington Post   March 30, 2016

The Pentagon’s No. 2 civilian official said Wednesday that the Defense Department is concerned that adversary nations could empower advanced weapons systems to act on their own, noting that while the United States will not give them the authority to kill autonomously, other countries might.

Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said the Pentagon hasn’t ‘‘fully figured out’’ the issue of autonomous machines, but continues to examine it. The US military has built a force that relies heavily on the decision-making skills of its troops, but ‘‘authoritarian regimes’’ may find weapons that can act independently more attractive because it consolidates the ability to take action among a handful of leaders, he said.

‘‘We will not delegate lethal authority to a machine to make a decision,’’ Work said. ‘‘The only time we will . . . delegate a machine authority is in things that go faster than human reaction time, like cyber or electronic warfare.’’

Work’s comments came at an event at The Washington Post hosted by columnist David Ignatius. Work said the United States is likely to narrowly use artificial intelligence in the next five to 10 years, pointing, for instance, to self-parking vehicles.

The event focused heavily on how the Pentagon is preparing for the future through what it calls a Third Offset Strategy, in which the military is seeking to counter the military advances of adversaries. The concept gets its name from two earlier ‘‘offsets.’’ In the first, the Pentagon developed tactical nuclear weapons during the Cold War. In the second, the military introduced the use of GPS to precisely guide a variety of bombs and missiles on the battlefield.

The Third Offset Strategy focuses on the introduction of machine learning — networks of machines that work together and the distribution of military force through the use of drone swarms and other technologies. Work said Wednesday that it means the Pentagon will not try to match its adversaries ‘‘tank-for-tank, gun-for-gun, missile-for-missile, person-for-person,’’ and instead will offset enemy strengths in other ways.

‘‘This is a much more dynamic strategy than we had in the Cold War,’’ Work said. ‘‘Then we had one, single opponent. It was a very stable competition, and we kind of understood the way they were going. We knew the areas where we could pick where we would dominate the competition, like in information technologies and precision-guided munitions. This is [a] much more dynamic environment in which a lot of military-relevant technologies are coming from the commercial sector.’’

Asked if the Pentagon needs to prepare for robot warfare, Work said the United States must begin working its ‘‘strategic muscles’’ more than it has in the last 25 years because of the emergence of China and Russia as threats.

Part of that is disclosing new military capabilities to give potential enemies pause, he said. One recent example is the public emergence of the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office, which had worked mostly in the shadows since it was established in 2012. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter wants it to invent new ways to use old weapons, such as having fighter jets, while in flight, deploy drone swarms.

‘‘We will reveal for deterrence, and we will conceal for war-fighting advantage,’’ Work said. ‘‘There are a lot of things in the budget that we don’t talk about because we want to preserve that in case, God forbid, deterrence fails and we do come to a conflict of arms.’’


Looks who is in the crosshairs:

"Companies finding new uses for facial recognition technology" by Consumer Reports   April 02, 2016

Facial recognition is a broad field in which researchers use 3-D modeling, analysis of patterns of light and dark in photographs, and other techniques to first pick out faces from a video stream or still photo, then identify either characteristics of the subject (male or female, age range, race) or a specific identity. Though it is still used largely for security, other applications are spreading, particularly in the hospitality industry.

On Disney’s four cruise ships, photographers roam the decks and dining rooms taking pictures of passengers. The images are sorted using facial recognition software so that photos of people registered to the same set of staterooms are grouped together. Passengers can later swipe their Disney ID at an onboard kiosk to easily call up every shot taken of their families throughout the trip.

Never a glitch or....????

Starting in 2010, the 1,200-room Hilton Americas-Houston in Texas employed a facial recognition system created by a company called 3VR. Though the system is designed mainly as a security tool, early on the hotel experimented with using the system to identify VIP guests who could be greeted by name by hotel staff, according to 3VR.

A surprising use of facial recognition was revealed in the summer of 2015 when a company called Churchix said it had installed a facial recognition system in dozens of churches around the world to track which congregants were attending services. Company founder Moshe Greenshpan declined to put Consumer Reports in touch with any clients, saying that the technology received a “wave of bad publicity, and our clients got a little scared.” However, he defended his product. “Tracking members means that churches know who is a regular attendee, and might be open to giving a donation, for example,” he said. “It also means they can know whether a regular attendee suddenly stops coming. The church can call to make sure everything is OK.” 

Tyranny has always been sold as being for your own good, and who benefits here?

The aversion people feel to facial recognition may decline as it becomes more familiar, especially if retailers offer enough incentives.

And what price your very soul, shopper?

Meanwhile, not every intelligent camera system is looking to identify you as an individual. Facial recognition can also help marketers determine shoppers’ age, sex, and race.

In Germany, the Astra beer brand recently created an automated billboard that noted when women walked past. The billboard approximated the women’s age, then played one of several prerecorded ads to match.

Related: Drive-By $pying

According to privacy advocates, this is the time to consider policy changes, while facial recognition is still ramping up. One idea would be to require an opt-in before people are entered into a facial recognition database, with reasonable exceptions for safety and security applications....

Do you like what you are looking at?


The Case has been made for the Third Wave, and into Oblivion we go.

"Drone racing to buzz into Boston this spring" by Matt Rocheleau Globe Staff  March 24, 2016

Ladies and gentlemen, start your tiny, whirring engines. Drone Day is coming to Boston.

At an all-day event this spring, drone enthusiasts plan to race competitively and host an array of demonstrations that will aim to educate fellow users and the public about the hovering machines.

“It’s about all things drone,” said Sean Tierney, one of the lead organizers.

He said the event is “part of larger international effort to get people familiar with the technology and to get people to see that they’re not dangerous in the right hands, and get people to have fun.”

The increasing popularity of drones among both recreational and commercial users has not come without controversy. Various concerns have been raised, including about the devices flying too close to manned aircraft, crashing into people on the ground, or being used for snooping.

Organizers said they hope to counter drone-related privacy and safety concerns by showing how the devices can be beneficial, assisting with emergency response, filmmaking, and inspecting infrastructure, among other things.

There will be racing, hardware demonstrations, vendor booths, virtual reality flight simulators, education and safety sessions, and opportunities for users to register their devices with the Federal Aviation Administration, organizers said.

It will mark the second year for the event; the inaugural run was fairly small, drawing about 70 people. Tierney said he expected two to three times as many to attend this year.

What exactly will the drone racing look like?

Dave Shevett, founder and chairman of the US Drone Racing Association based in Berlin, Mass., explained that drone operators will wear either look at a video feed or wear goggles that give them a drone’s-eye view of the action via a tiny camera affixed to the drone.

“It’s as if you’re sitting on the drone and flying,” he said.

The operators control the devices as they zip around a course, typically marked by gates through which the operators navigate the drones.

Shevett said some high-end drones can travel faster than 60 miles per hour, but most models max out between 35 and 40 miles per hour.

Like car racing, there are crashes, Shevett explained. In most cases, he said, the drones don’t collide with each other, but crash into the gates.

Tierney described it as similar to NASCAR, but in mid-air.

The event is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 7, at the Innovation and Design Building in South Boston.

Tierney said there’s about 12,000 square feet of space for the event and the building’s owner donated the space. Safety netting will be installed around the drone race course.


Just stay in your lane and away from the airport.

RelatedRobots company hopes to get back on its feet

Globe has been knocked down all morning.

"The state remains an innovation center, boasting many sizeable tech firms employing thousands."

"LogMeIn: King of the Internet of Things?" by Hiawatha Bray, Globe Staff  11/07/2015

When telephones let the entire human race talk to each other, phone companies became very big and very rich. When the Internet let millions of computers talk to each other, Internet companies became very big and very rich.

And now, all the human-made objects on earth — our cars, appliances, plumbing, even our clothes — are learning to talk to each other. The companies that build out this immense, global “Internet of Things” will become some of the biggest and richest yet. And it’s just possible that one of these companies will be Boston’s LogMeIn Inc.

“I think the Internet of Things is the next driver of tech growth,” said LogMeIn president Bill Wagner, who takes over as chief executive next month, replacing the outgoing Michael Simon. “It’s a trillion-plus-dollar market opportunity.”


"Rob O’Reilly is also working with an Israeli company on a gadget that can judge the quality of a tomato simply by hitting it with a beam of light. At Analog Devices they call it a “tomato tricorder,” like the hand-held scanners on the TV series “Star Trek.”

I wouldn't leave the nest just yet. Those tomatoes rotten!

Just a sliver of that business could transform LogMeIn, which last year earned revenues of $222 million, into a multibillion-dollar global tech titan. All the company has to do is beat out the dozens of others vying for the same market, including giants like Cisco Systems Inc., Microsoft Corp., and

That's all.

LogMeIn delivers a bunch of Internet-based services, including file backup and online chatrooms. In 2011, LogMeIn acquired a London-based Internet of Things software startup called Pachube, since renamed Xively.

It’ll probably never become a household word, but Xively could someday be embedded into billions of smart devices in homes, factories, airports — pretty much anywhere. Xively is a set of software and network services that manages the data flow between gadgets. 

They can't even run a state website or other government service without glitches.

“All these messages have to know where to go,” Wagner said. “Xively is basically the traffic cop, if you will, for data in a connected world.” It ensures that messages get to the slow cookers we want to turn off, while blocking access to criminals and vandals hoping to hack our water heaters or jumbo jets.

Xively, or something like it, will be an absolutely essential component of the Internet of Things, analysts say. Wagner says his company’s years of linking computers via the cloud gives it a headstart in this new market.

Frank Gillett, principal analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, said LogMeIn is competing in a crowded field with more than 100 players, many bigger and richer, and is a long shot at best to become an EMC-scale firm.

But Roger Kay, industry analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates of Wayland, said Xively has a fighting chance at becoming a major player in the Internet of Things.

“A company that’s already positioned in this market that’s going to be big, is probably going to get a piece of it,” Kay said. “It’s the right place to be.” 

Time to LogMe Out!


How do you feel about that?

"Affectiva aims to grow with an emotional appeal" by Nidhi Subbaraman, Globe Staff  11/07/2015

Affectiva Inc. sees a future in which every computer knows how you feel.

Does this help?

The Waltham startup has analyzed more than 3.4 million faces around the world and mined them for billions of ordinary expressions: wrinkled brows, widened eyes, lips pulled tight, and more. Its researchers have created algorithms that allow devices of all kinds — smartphones, tablets, and laptops — to identify the emotions under those expressions.

Affectiva is in the vanguard of an emerging field that has applications across several industries, including advertising, media, education, and robotics and is projected to generate $42.5 billion in annual worldwide sales in 2020. Imagine smartphones with “emotion chips” that allow the devices to sense when their owners are sad, sending them an encouraging message or even calling their moms.

Are you sensing anything now?

Affectiva was founded in 2009, spun out of the MIT Media Lab by Rana el Kaliouby, who conducted research under Rosalind Picard, a pioneer in the field called affective computing, and a co-founder. The company has been able to pick out universal patterns in that data — facial changes that signify certain feelings no matter where people live or grew up.

Spun out of Military Industrial Tech, what a surprise.

But they’ve also quantified differences in behavior between groups, across genders, or across the 75 countries they studied. For example, Affectiva has found that in the United States, women tend to be 40 percent more expressive than men, but that both genders are equally stoic in the United Kingdom.

Except for that vote they just had.

Affectiva used this data to build its algorithms that can run as apps on any mobile device, allowing the technology to be widely used. The potential has attracted some of the most successful venture capital firms, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers of San Francisco and Horizons Ventures of Hong Kong, and helped Affectiva raise a total of about $20 million.

Millward Brown, a global market research firm, has licensed the technology and used the software to test consumer reactions to more than 1,000 brands from consumer products companies such as Kellogg Co. of Battle Creek, Mich., Mars Inc. of McLean, Va., and Unilever PLC of London.


"Kellogg Co., struggling with slumping US cereal sales, will invest about $100 million in a venture fund, a bid to use a Silicon Valley approach to find the food industry’s next growth engine. The fund — named Eighteen94 Capital, a nod to the year the company’s flaked cereal was invented — will look to take minority stakes in startups developing new packaging, ingredients, products, and technology, Kellogg said in a statement Monday. Kellogg joins packaged-food rivals General Mills Inc. and Campbell Soup Co. in turning to venture funds to cope with a changing industry."

I guess they don't like the taste of the cereal.

Media giants are also pilot-testing the software, tracking audiences to find the emotionally engaging parts of sitcoms so they can sell ad time to appeal to people when they are most receptive, said Gabi Zijderveld, Affectiva’s vice president of marketing and product strategy.

You aren't a person; you are one big wallet.

Museums are interested in using the technology to refine the effectiveness of interactive exhibits, Zijderveld said. Chocolate maker Hershey Co. created a promotional device to place in stores that dispenses a candy bar when a visitor standing in front of the machine smiles.

Train you like that famous dog.

OoVoo LLC, a New York firm that makes video chat software, is integrating a version of Affectiva’s product into its Intelligent Video group chat system, to give speakers to online audiences an indication of how engaged their listeners are.


Another potential market: online education. Affectiva says its technology could help professors make online lectures more engaging for students. Social robot makers are testing a version of the software to make their machines interact more naturally with people. And Affectiva has begun to explore how its software could have an effect on health care, perhaps as a tool in telemedicine.

Aren't schools already wasting enough money, and a teledoc?


RelatedComputer Captures My Emotions

It jolted me awake this morning, and that never helps win my Affectiva.

Affectiva teams up with developers to make video games that know your feelings

Glad I never got into them.

Turn us all into Irobots:

"Can Massachusetts grow the next EMC?" Scott Kirsner  11/06/2015

IRobot began making surveillance bots for police and the military, and grew into one of the leaders of the mobile robotics field. IRobot has about 500 employees, and brought in $557 million in revenue last year.

IRobot has the potential to grow much bigger — and remain a central player– as robots continue to move spread from the factory and battlefield into the consumer market.

Many companies are capable of building expensive robots for specific industrial uses. But very few have amassed the skills to make inexpensive robots — and sell them to consumers. Those abilities put iRobot in a prime position as the robotics business grows....


RelatediRobot to sell defense and security division

"iRobot to sell off military-device division for $45m; Pressure from hedge fund prompts move to focus on its consumer products" by Hiawatha Bray and Nidhi Subbaraman, Globe Staff

Under pressure from a California hedge fund, iRobot Corp. is exiting the business that first put it on the technology map: military robots.

The Bedford maker of Roomba self-guided home vacuums said it is selling its defense and security division, also known as D&S, to Arlington Capital Partners, a Washington, D.C.-based private equity firm, for $45 million. The division made the robots that searched the wreckage of the World Trade Center in Manhattan after 9/11, probed roadside bombs in Iraq, and explored the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.

You find some things in the oddest places.

iRobot will now focus almost entirely on its line of consumer robots, including the popular Roomba vacuum cleaners.

Chief executive Colin Angle said in a statement the company began shopping for a buyer nearly two years ago. “We’ve concluded the sale of the business to Arlington Capital Partners will maximize shareholder value by allowing us to focus on our much larger Home segment,’’ Angle said.

The deal follows two months of pressure from Red Mountain Capital Partners, a California hedge fund that owns around 6.1 percent of iRobot stock. It has repeatedly urged the company to sell off the military robot business, as well as a separate line of “remote presence’’ robots.

In December Red Mountain wrote a letter to Angle criticizing “iRobot’s history of poor stock price performance, lack of capital allocation discipline, and shareholder-unfriendly corporate governance practices.’’

Its shares underperformed a benchmark index of small cap stocks for most of 2015, but then surged after Red Mountain publicized its interest in the company. iRobot stock closed Thursday at $34.41, up 6 percent on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

In January, Red Mountain asked for two board seats and threatened “an unnecessary election contest’’ at the company’s annual meeting in February if iRobot did not comply.

In a statement, Red Mountain managing partner Willem Mesdag, hailed the sale of the business, but said his firm will not let up the pressure on iRobot.

“We continue to have serious concerns about capital allocation, returns on invested capital, and governance,’’ Mesdag said. “We are engaged in a constructive dialogue with the company, and continue to consider our options.’’

Meanwhile, the military robot business will operate as a separate company headed by Sean Bielat, a former iRobot executive and a major in the US Marine Corps Reserve who twice unsuccessfully ran for a congressional seat in Massachusetts. Tom Frost, currently iRobot’s general manager of the defense and security business, will serve as president. No name has yet been chosen for the new company, which will remain in Bedford.

Bielat said splitting the company into separate civilian and military businesses offered the best prospects for future growth. “There was a sense that there were opportunities for each, but that they’d do better separately,’’ Bielat said.

Dan Kara, a robotics analyst at ABI Research Inc., said iRobot’s military machines were popular during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they were mainly used to search for booby traps and improvised explosives. iRobot has sold about 5,000 such robots.

But “it’s not 2006 any more,’’ Kara said. As a result, iRobot’s military business has dried up, from 35 percent of revenues 10 years ago, to less than 10 percent today.

Still, Bielat said there will soon be new demand for the kind of robots the division makes.

What future wars are already in the works?

The Pentagon has announced plans for the “Common Robotics System-Individual,’’ a new generation of lightweight robots that would become standard equipment for infantry forces. The D&S company will also keep busy making parts and upgrades for existing military machines.

Home robots brought in 91 percent of iRobot’s 2014 revenues of $557 million. Kara said the worldwide home-robot market is expected to more than double, to $2.6 billion by 2020, from around $1 billion in revenue in 2015. iRobot is the dominant seller of consumer robots.

iRobot didn’t accede to Red Mountain’s demand that the company shut down its Ava line of remote presence robots, which carry a camera, microphone, and video screen. Ava robots can be used in hospitals to let patients consult with a doctor a thousand miles away, or let an executive patrol the hallways of his company’s satellite offices. Kara said the market for such robots is small.

After a while you will not even notice them.

During a Thursday conference call, Angle said iRobot hopes to strike deals with other firms that can exploit the Ava technology, but added that iRobot is backing away from further development of the system. “Financially, we’re no longer making a significant investment in the engineering side of remote presence,’’ he said.

Angle also gave a preview of the company’s 2015 performance, saying sales during the holiday season were strong and that fourth-quarter results will be at the high end of expectations. In October, the company predicted fourth-quarter earnings of 56 cents a share, on sales of $203 million. and full-year earnings of $1.25 to $1.45, with revenue ranging between $625 million and $635 million.The company is expected to report financial results next week.


Also see:

Setback for iRobot management in battle over board seats
IRobot board challengers get Glass Lewis support
iRobot activist shareholder fails to win board seats

The old EMC:

"EMC tries to soothe doubtful investors" by Curt Woodward Globe Staff  January 27, 2016

EMC Corp. defended its pending sale to Dell Inc., attempting to soothe investors who have driven the Hopkinton-based IT supplier’s share prices down amid questions about the deal’s size and complexity.

“We’re confident. We know what we’re doing,” EMC chief executive Joe Tucci said Wednesday in a conference call with investors.

Tucci acknowledged that slow sales growth reported Wednesday was due in part to “angst” about the merger with Dell, but Tucci said the buyout remains the best path for EMC.

“This is a really big deal, and there’s a lot of noise in the system,” Tucci “A lot of people have a lot of opinions. A lot of them are not based on a lot of fact.”

Shares of EMC and its most important subsidiary, datacenter software seller VMware Inc., have declined since the sale to Dell was announced in mid-October.

EMC stock has dropped more than 15 percent in that period, closing Wednesday’s trading at $23.90. VMware shares have performed even worse, opening at $44.87 Wednesday, about 38 percent below the price when the Dell merger was announced. The stock closed at $44.44.

“It’s been a living nightmare for VMware investors,” said Daniel H. Ives, an analyst for FBR Capital Markets & Co.

Analysts said the lower prices reflect investor doubts about whether the enormous deal, worth $67 billion at the time it was announced, can still be completed amid lingering global economic unease. Dell is expected to borrow about $50 billion to pay for the buyout. 

That is what is killing them.

Investors also are confused about its structure, which includes a complicated tracking stock meant to help EMC shareholders account for the company’s 80 percent stake in VMware, analysts said.

The agreement with Dell calls for EMC shareholders to receive $24.05 per share in cash, plus a VMware “tracking stock” that will fluctuate with that company’s stock price. When they announced the deal, Dell and EMC estimated the total value per EMC share would be $33.15.

EMC shares, however, are now trading near the cash price offered by Dell. That means investors are essentially placing “little to no value” on the VMware tracking stock, Pacific Crest Securities analyst Brent Bracelin noted in a report this week.

“There’s some question as to whether the deal will even get done. And what does that mean? Does that mean both stocks go up? Do they go down? What happens?” said John DiFucci, an analyst for Jefferies Group LLC.

Who cares?

Rajesh Ghai, an analyst for Macquarie Capital Inc., wrote that EMC and Dell should lower the acquisition price to $28 per share in order to reduce the debt that Dell would have to raise.

That would make the deal less risky for banks offering the debt and “may be a necessary first step to restore credibility of the deal,” Ghai wrote.

Always want to make life easy for those guys.

Tucci said Wednesday that the structure of the Dell sale remains sound, pointing to multibillion-
dollar breakup fees on both sides of the transaction and assurances from major banks that they can raise the debt Dell needs to complete the acquisition.

“We have a binding, solid merger agreement in place. We are highly confident,” Tucci said.


Was Tucci telling the truth?

EMC, VMware shuffle CFOs amid Dell buyout

Did EMC’s sale push noncompete reform over the edge? Not exactly

EMC’s new owner to be called Dell Technologies after merger

Dell said to sell $20 billion of bonds backing EMC acquisition

Dell buyout deal shortchanged shareholders, court rules

EMC shareholders to vote July 19 on Dell’s acquisition

Dell sells software unit ahead of merger with EMC

The deal is not set in stone yet.

"Boston conference showcases robots that can be team players" by Hiawatha Bray Globe Staff  May 03, 2016

It looks simple in the “Star Wars” films, where brave and resourceful robots work side-by-side with heroic humans. But in real life, getting too chummy with an industrial robot could get you killed. It happened at least twice last year, at a car parts plant in India and on a Volkswagen assembly line in Germany.

And you wonder why there are no jobs out there?

“In most factories you go into, the robots are walled off behind cages,” said David Mindell, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. That’s because robots aren’t programmed to interact safely with fragile and unpredictable humans. But Mindell and other robot engineers are now building robots that can work safely alongside people.

And many of those robots are on display in Boston this week, at a conference where the world’s top robotics companies are demonstrating that their creations can come out from behind their cages and work in human-robot teams on the factory floor. The conference of “collaborative robotics” at the Hynes Convention Center includes presentations from Switzerland’s ABB Group, Japan’s Fanuc Corp., and Universal Robots, a Danish company purchased last year by Teradyne Inc. of North Reading. The event is expected to draw interest from major manufacturing concerns looking to boost productivity.

“One of the holy grails in robotics for many years has been full autonomy,” Mindell said. That’s the Hollywood vision of a robot capable of acting entirely on its own, but “By definition, anything that’s economically valuable is valuable because it does something relative to a human environment,” Mindell said. “That’s what fighter pilots are — a human-machine team. The US military is ahead of industry on a lot of this.”

Industrial robot makers are now bringing human-machine teamwork to the factory floor. Universal Robots, for instance, makes robotic arms that assist workers with repetitive tasks. Dynamic Group, a Minneapolis plastics company, uses a Universal robot to operate a molding machine, then pass the finished components to a human inspector. The molding machine now produces four times as many parts and uses just one worker instead of three.

“As soon as we put the robot there, we started making the parts right, again and again and again,” said Dynamic Group chief executive Joe McGillivray. The displaced workers were reassigned to more demanding jobs. “We’ve got people who are doing things that are more interesting and more challenging,” McGillivray said.

Universal Robots are designed for flexible manufacturers that make a variety of products. In such factories, the nature of the work changes from day to day. A Universal machine can be mounted on wheels and moved wherever it’s needed, and it runs on standard household current, with no need for special wiring.

Pull the plug.

“We could bring a robot in now and have it running in five minutes,” said Scott Mabie, the company’s general manager. Workers can train the robot themselves by grabbing its arm and guiding it through the correct movements, or using a touchscreen controller to teach it precise moves.

What an insult. Train it to take your job so some corporation and its executives can cash in.

And there’s no need for workers to stay out of the machine’s reach. If any object gets in the way, the robot’s software instantly shuts the motors down; a human would feel little more than a nudge.

And if there is a glitch?

Universal’s biggest robot can lift up to 22 pounds. But even big robots can learn to collaborate.

Yet even a mild nudge with a sharp object could injure a worker, and some robotic hands feature claws or wedge-like grippers that might cause serious pain.

“You can take a very safe robotics system and make it very unsafe with the wrong kind of hand,” said Carl Vause, chief executive of Soft Robotics in Cambridge. His company, based on technology developed at Harvard University, uses soft, flexible plastic grippers that can wrap around objects from a cardboard box to a ripe tomato. But because they’re so flexible, the Soft Robotics grippers won’t do much harm to anyone who gets in the way.

Collaborative robots will likely be confined to factories for years to come, said Jeffrey Burnstein, president of the Robotic Industries Association. “The home is an almost impossible environment for robots to work in right now,” he said. “There’s stairs, there’s kids, there’s dogs.”

It’s been 55 years since the first industrial robot was switched on, and they’re only just learning to play nicely with factory workers. House-training will take a lot longer....

Then government and/or indu$try can parc a spy right in your home!



"Drones will soon be boosting crop yields, verifying insurance claims, and assisting in future Hollywood blockbusters in a business that’s due to boom by more than 6,000 percent by the end of the decade. The global market for commercial applications of drone technology, currently estimated at about $2 billion, will balloon to as much as $127 billion by 2020, consulting group PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP said in a report published on Monday. With Poland leading the way in drafting laws for the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles, non-military applications are already being designed that may revolutionize thousands of industries. One project envisions drones flying over wheat fields to detect areas where crops are failing and then calling in reinforcements to tackle affected zones by spraying pesticide or nutrients."

You hear a buzzing sound?

The rise (and fall) of the machines

At this tech startup, age is an asset

It's a whole new reality.

Also see: 

Kellogg to open cereal cafe in New York as sales slump

No hiccups expected as EMC shareholders ponder Dell deal

Well, their might be one.

"Shareholders also approved a multimillion-dollar “golden parachute” payment package for longtime chief executive Joe Tucci, who will retire after the sale is complete, and EMC’s other top executives. Tucci could reap nearly $24 million in cash and stock, according to company regulatory filings."

EMC sale clears last hurdle, Dell to close on purchase next week

In years-long legal war, EMC faces setback

There are no ethics anymore.