Fully automatic: 7 mind-blowing tech innovations

Recently, I wrote an article discussing how rapid technological innovation may ultimately have far reaching impact on the job market through jobless growth. This week, I would like to take the opportunity to look at some of these technical innovations and developments more closely. Here are seven pretty mind-blowing achievements in a world that is quickly becoming fully automated.

Robotic Cars
If you think you can hold on to your job as a driver, think again. Back in September, a German company called Autonomos Labs showcased a fully automated car driving for over 20 kilometers through Berlin traffic. The video is so impressive, that it helped me to get over my excitement about Siri.

Artificial journalists
A company called Automated Insights started as a pet project of a guy that just happened to be interested in creating a sports blog that could provide sports news quickly and efficiently. His idea eventually grew into a project that took realtime sports data and automatically generated a narrative out of it. His idea was not unique, and a competitor is quickly making headlines. Narrative Science is playing the same game. However, they’re already branching out into other fields, and the construction industry is a quick adopter. Builder Online has been using this software since midway through this year.

Agriculture has always been a prime target for technological innovation, ever since the agricultural revolution in the 1700s. So its not surprising that there is always new technology appearing in the agricultural market, but perhaps you’re not quite up to date with how much farming can become automated. This little video is a great insight into the kinds of research that are already being tested out in the fields.

Doctors and Nurses
If you haven’t come across Watson yet, you’ve been living under a rock. Watson is probably the closest we have ever come to true artificial intelligence, and it is now being used to help diagnose patients with medical conditions. This video will give you a pretty complete picture of how Watson is capable of processing 200 million textbooks in around 3 seconds to come out with more accurate and efficient assessments of a patient’s condition.

Watson is great for diagnostics, but if we are going to automate medicine, we need a bit of work in the practical arena. That’s why its exciting to see a project like Care-O-bot, who is actually fully interacting with patients in a care home in Germany.

Industrial robots
We all know that most of our modern cars are put together using industrial robots. But its worth getting some perspective on how immensely this impacts the labour force. This year Foxconn, the manufacturer behind the iPhone and many other computer products, announced that it was planning to replace many of its 1.2 million workers with robots. The video below, just shows how many tasks can be automated beautifully using industrial robots. It also provides a pretty stark perspective into an industry that, while being incredibly productive, is also increasingly jobless.

Legal Research
Legal research is traditionally a minefield that usually requires that a law-firm has an army of very well paid lawyers who know where to look for relevant information. While this area is far from fully automated, companies like Autonomy and ClearWell are specialists that produce eDiscovery software. Traditional search tends to rely on keyword phrases, but is unable to handle the requirement to search for wider concepts that fall within a particular context. Automation and technological improvements in this area lead Mike Lynch, the founder of Autonomy, to state that “legal is a sector that will likely employ fewer, not more, people in the future.” He estimated that the shift from manual document discovery to e-discovery would lead to a manpower reduction in which one lawyer would suffice for work that once required 500 and that the newest generation of software, which can detect duplicates and find clusters of important documents on a particular topic, could cut the head count by another 50 percent.

While I think we’re still a long way away from the singularity that some people dream of, I’m still blown away by how far we have come in recent years. Unfortunately I haven’t found a way to fully automate my day job yet, but when I do hopefully it will free up a whole lot more time to write for Memeburn. If you’ve seen any other really good pieces on fully automated technology, pop a link in the comments.



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