Robots: Overviews


8 actions to introduce enterprise AI and robotic process automation in a human way

ZDNet

Here's the paradox: it takes people to automate. Enterprises are moving aggressively to automate as many of their processes as possible, through artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation. Automation opens up new types of career opportunities, from programming to training. But it can't simply be inserted into operations without forethought and consideration of the wider impact. That's the word coming out of a survey of 4,000 employees released by Automation Anywhere.


Human-machine collaboration and the future of work

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We naturally think of "intelligence" as a trait belonging to individuals. We're all--students, employees, soldiers, artists, athletes--regularly evaluated in terms of personal accomplishment, with "lone hero" narratives prevailing in accounts of scientific discovery, politics, and business. Similarly, artificial intelligence is typically defined as a quest to build individual machines that possess different forms of intelligence, even the kind of general intelligence measured in humans for more than a century. Yet focusing on individual intelligence, whether human or machine, can distract us from the true nature of accomplishment. As Thomas Malone, professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management and director of its Center for Collective Intelligence notes: "Almost everything we humans have ever done has been done not by lone individuals, but by groups of people working together, often across time and space." Malone, the author of 2004's The Future of Work and a pioneering researcher in the field of collective intelligence, is in a singular position to understand the potential of AI technologies to transform workers, workplaces, and societies. In this conversation with Deloitte's Jim Guszcza and Jeff Schwartz, he discusses a vision outlined in his recent book Superminds--a framework for achieving new forms of human-machine collective intelligence and its implications for the future of work. Can you tell us what a "supermind" is, and how you define collective intelligence? Thomas Malone, director, MIT Center for Collective Intelligence: A "supermind" is a group of individuals acting collectively in ways that seem intelligent, and collective intelligence essentially has the same definition. For many years, I defined collective intelligence as groups of individuals acting collectively in ways that seem intelligent.


Australian robotics adoption: where does it stand and why does it matter?

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It's not a perfect measure, but unit sales of industrial robots give some idea of a country's industrial might. The names of the top five buyers in 2017 – China, Japan, South Korea, the US and Germany – shouldn't be too surprising. The global average is 74 per 10,000. One factor in this is the small electronics and automotive sectors here, which are two major drivers of industrial robot investment. The high number of SME and micro-businesses in Australian manufacturing is another.


Artificial intelligence progress gets gummed up in silos and cultural issues

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Silos have always been considered a bad thing for enterprise IT environments, and today's push for artificial intelligence and other cognitive technologies is no exception. A recent survey shows fewer than 50% of enterprises have deployed any of the "intelligent automation technologies" -- such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA). IT leaders participating in the survey say data and applications within their companies are too siloed to make it work. That's the gist of a survey of 500 IT executives, conducted by IDG in partnership with Appian. The majority of executives, 86%, say they seek to achieve high levels of integration between human work, AI, and RPA over the coming year.


Current trends in fintech and AI

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Artificial intelligence (AI) in the fintech industry is not about replacing live employees with robots. Instead, it's about using automation to carry out basic or routine tasks in order to let employees handle more complex issues. It's a way of giving employees more responsibility and the chance to work closer with the customers who truly need live help. AI is also ensuring that each transaction is accurate and it's making online transactions safer by automating regulatory compliance. When basic customer tasks are automated, such as simplistic banking transactions like depositing money, checking account balances or cashing checks, employees can have the time and mental energy to handle high-value tasks and troubleshoot difficult problems.


Artificial intelligence progress gets gummed up in silos and cultural issues

ZDNet

Silos have always been considered a bad thing for enterprise IT environments, and today's push for artificial intelligence and other cognitive technologies is no exception. A recent survey shows fewer than 50% of enterprises have deployed any of the "intelligent automation technologies" -- such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA). IT leaders participating in the survey say data and applications within their companies are too siloed to make it work. That's the gist of a survey of 500 IT executives, conducted by IDG in partnership with Appian. The majority of executives, 86%, say they seek to achieve high levels of integration between human work, AI, and RPA over the coming year.


US Army tanks using AI for automatic targeting to help crews

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ATLAS The system involved is called ATLAS, an acronym for Advanced Targeting and Lethality Automated System. The system is designed to acquire, identify, and engage targets at least 3 times as fast as the current manual process. A recent government announcement is for an Industry Day later in March: The Army Contracting Command - Aberdeen Proving Ground Belvoir Division (ACC-APG Belvoir) is announcing an Industry Day on behalf of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) and the Army Science and Technology (S&T) community, for the Advanced Targeting and Lethality Automated System (ATLAS) program. An Industry Day will be held at Fort Belvoir, VA on 12-13 March 2019 at the Officer's Club.The purpose of this meeting is to provide Industry and Academia with an overview of the program and to solicit sources capable of providing technical solutions to support ATLAS. The Army has a desire to leverage recent advances in computer vision and Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning (AI/ML) to develop autonomous target acquisition technology, that will be integrated with fire control technology, aimed at providing ground combat vehicles with the capability to acquire, identify, and engage targets at least 3X faster than the current manual process.


Manipulation by Feel: Touch-Based Control with Deep Predictive Models

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Touch sensing is widely acknowledged to be important for dexterous robotic manipulation, but exploiting tactile sensing for continuous, non-prehensile manipulation is challenging. General purpose control techniques that are able to effectively leverage tactile sensing as well as accurate physics models of contacts and forces remain largely elusive, and it is unclear how to even specify a desired behavior in terms of tactile percepts. In this paper, we take a step towards addressing these issues by combining high-resolution tactile sensing with data-driven modeling using deep neural network dynamics models. We propose deep tactile MPC, a framework for learning to perform tactile servoing from raw tactile sensor inputs, without manual supervision. We show that this method enables a robot equipped with a GelSight-style tactile sensor to manipulate a ball, analog stick, and 20-sided die, learning from unsupervised autonomous interaction and then using the learned tactile predictive model to reposition each object to user-specified configurations, indicated by a goal tactile reading. Videos, visualizations and the code are available here: https://sites.google.com/view/deeptactilempc


Combining Optimal Control and Learning for Visual Navigation in Novel Environments

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Model-based control is a popular paradigm for robot navigation because it can leverage a known dynamics model to efficiently plan robust robot trajectories. However, it is challenging to use model-based methods in settings where the environment is a priori unknown and can only be observed partially through on-board sensors on the robot. In this work, we address this short-coming by coupling model-based control with learning-based perception. The learning-based perception module produces a series of waypoints that guide the robot to the goal via a collision-free path. These waypoints are used by a model-based planner to generate a smooth and dynamically feasible trajectory that is executed on the physical system using feedback control. Our experiments in simulated real-world cluttered environments and on an actual ground vehicle demonstrate that the proposed approach can reach goal locations more reliably and efficiently in novel, previously-unknown environments as compared to a purely end-to-end learning-based alternative. Our approach is successfully able to exhibit goal-driven behavior without relying on detailed explicit 3D maps of the environment, works well with low frame rates, and generalizes well from simulation to the real world. Videos describing our approach and experiments are available on the project website.


5G reality check from MWC: A long, expensive road ahead

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Amid all the bullish talk about 5G at MWC Barcelona 19, there was also some nervous hand wringing. Even as progress is being made, the tab for this next-generation connectivity remains daunting. The GSMA trade group that hosts the event formerly known as Mobile World Congress estimates that carriers will be spending $160 billion on an annual basis to roll out 5G networks around the world. And that doesn't include trillions more that are estimated to be needed to install related infrastructure for things like autonomous vehicles, smart cities, and interactive content like live streaming virtual reality. "Rolling out 5G is a communications revolution that will profoundly change every aspect of our lives," wrote Tony Wonfor, Managing Director of telecom financing firm Greensill, in a report on 5G costs.