Abu Dhabi Organizes Interactive Reading Session between Robots, Students

Abu Dhabi, London- The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi has organized a workshop called the “Intelligent Robotics Initiative” for a group of students from the Department of Education and Knowledge schools.

This initiative, organized by the IT and National Library departments at the department, aims at familiarizing students with methods of using innovative modern technologies in line with the government’s vision of transforming the UAE’s cities into smart environments introducing first-of-its-kind services.

For its part, The Department of Culture and Tourism has already conducted several trials using robots for library activities such as reading stories and interacting with visitors, in particular students.

The workshop held at Mazyad Mall included an overview of robotics and their importance, emphasizing that the field of robotics is one that is currently witnessing rapid, pioneering progress, especially in developed countries.

Robotics technology has become a burgeoning international industry with the level of progress now a standard for measuring the industrial strength of a country. The robots provided by the department also interactively read a story to children, as part of the department’s social responsibility towards promoting the Arabic language and to increase the interest in reading among children in the country.

Through its initiatives throughout the year, the department seeks to develop literary interest in children by offering them attractive, interactive reading experiences that not only promote reading, but also help them develop a true understanding of the Arabic language at an early age.

Artificial Skin to Provide Robots with Sense of Touch


San Francisco, London- Robots can finally feel hot and cold through their sense of touch after researchers from the University of Houston have reported a breakthrough in stretchable electronics that can serve as an artificial skin.

Cunjiang Yu, Bill D. Cook, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and lead author for the paper, said the work is the first to create a semiconductor in a rubber composite format, designed to allow the electronic components to retain functionality even after the material is stretched by 50%.

According to the Science Daily website, Yu said that this invention is the first semiconductor in rubber composite format that enables stretchability without any special mechanical structure.

He added that the new discovery has advantages for simple fabrication, scalable manufacturing, high-density integration, large strain tolerance and low cost.

Yu and his team created the electronic skin and used it to demonstrate that a robotic hand could sense the temperature of hot and iced water in a cup.

The skin also was able to interpret computer signals sent to the hand and reproduce the signals as American Sign Language.

The artificial skin is just one application.

Researchers said the discovery of a material that is soft, bendable, stretchable and twistable will impact future development in soft wearable electronics, including health monitors, medical implants and human-machine interfaces.

US Researchers Develop Battery-Less Foldable Robots


San Francisco, London – A team of US researchers has reached a new technique to develop foldable robots based on the Japanese paper folding art known as “origami”.

The manufacture of traditional robots generally requires onboard batteries or a wired connection to a power source, which limit their functions.

A team of researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) at Harvard University has created battery-free folding robots that are capable of complex, repeatable movements powered and controlled through a wireless magnetic field.

Science Daily website reported study co-author Je-sung Koh as saying: “This system requires only basic, passive electronic components on the robot to deliver an electric current, and the structure of the robot itself takes care of the rest.”

The robot is composed of three outer triangles connected to the central triangle by hinges, and a small circuit on the central triangle.

The power that creates the electrical current needed for the robots’ movement is delivered wirelessly using electromagnetic power transmission, the same technology inside wireless charging pads that recharge the batteries in cell phones and other small electronics.

Lead author Mustafa Boyvat, fellow at the Wyss Institute said: “Not only are our robots’ folding motions repeatable, but we can control when and where they happen, which enables more complex movements.”

Switzerland Unveils First Digital Building


Cologne, Germany- The Swiss “Hoho Tower” has been listed in Guinness records as the first 84m, 24-story twin tower project built only from wood. Following this success in the field of eco-friendly construction, Swiss engineers will soon start a new adventure to build the first “digital” building in the world, as it will be schemed and constructed by robots and without any human intervention.

Eight professors from ETH Zurich specialized in architect and robotic systems, will run the construction of the DFAB House. The project will be implemented by two Swiss companies “Empa” and “Eawag.”

Sources from Zurich University said the DFAB House will be the first building in the world to be constructed by robots, and 3D printers.

The projects will offer the Swiss scientists participating in the “digital production program” the opportunity to try several robotic systems and techniques that were developed over the past few years. Scientists plan to build a three-story building, which will be an extension at the Dübendorf NEST campus.

Swiss scientists will use four digital construction systems in this projects, including the “Mesh Mould technology” that uses two-meter robot dubbed “Situ Fabricator”, which can build concrete walls without any human intervention.

It is known that the Mesh Mold robot designs the iron bars according to the demanded form, which saves much time and money for construction companies. It also merges the concreting and reinforcement processes in one operation. Then, only few beautifying adjustments on the exterior surface will be needed.

In its work, the technique relies on a customized software that helps in drawing the demanded iron grids, so Mesh Mold can execute them on ground. The robot makes the reinforcement iron bars in the form of a grid that prevents the concrete from pouring out. The robot is also able to make unlimited forms of iron grids.

This robot was tested for the first time in the construction of an invention and innovation center in the city of Dübendorf, Switzerland. The project saw the participation of Prof Fabio Gramazio and Prof Matthias Kohler, along with three of their students.

After “Situ Fabricator” finishes the first story of the house, another robot “Smart Slab” will build the ceiling using light but solid concrete. The production of the ceiling concrete boards will be left for another robot that uses the 3D printing technique.

Smart Dynamic Casting is another digital process that robotically shapes concrete and makes them of eco-friendly new materials.

Matthias Kohler, ETH professor founding director of the NCCR Digital Fabrication explains that unlike construction projects that use only a single digital building technology, such as 3D printed houses, the DFAB House depends on robots only.

How to Beat the Robots


Maybe the automation of jobs will eventually create new, better jobs. Maybe it will put us all out of work. But as we argue about this, work is changing.

Today’s jobs — white collar, blue collar or no collar — require more education and interpersonal skills than those in the past. And many of the people whose jobs have already been automated can’t find new ones. Technology leads to economic growth, but the benefits aren’t being parceled out equally. Policy makers have the challenge of helping workers share the gains.

That will take at least some government effort, just as it did when the United States moved from an agricultural economy to an industrial one, with policies like high school for all or workers’ rights.

Whether there’s political will for big changes remains to be seen, but here are some policies that economists and policy experts think could help now.

More Education, and Different Kinds

A broad area of agreement: People need to learn new skills to work in the new economy. “The best response is to increase the skills of the labor force,” said Gregory Mankiw, an economist at Harvard.

The most valuable thing could be to increase college enrollment and graduation rates. A growing number of jobs require a degree; the unemployment rate among people 25 to 34 with college degrees is just 2 percent, versus 8 percent for those who stopped their education after high school.

But that goal seems far-fetched at a time when only about one-third of Americans have bachelor’s degrees. For many more who lack the time, money or drive, what’s already happening is more vocational training, at community colleges or through apprenticeships. This provides a way for people to learn on the job, but the problem is that many of those jobs are probably next in line to be automated.

People who lose their job midcareer don’t necessarily have the skills to do another one. But government retraining programs are confusing and often ineffective, and many companies aren’t willing to invest in training workers only to have them poached by a rival. “It’s bipartisan judgment that it doesn’t work,” said Tyler Cowen, an economist at George Mason University. “People are not that malleable.”

More successful, he said, is training that workers seek themselves. One idea from Third Way, a policy think tank, is free online prep courses for people who have been out of school too long to remember high school basics. Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson, founders of M.I.T.’s Initiative on the Digital Economy, suggest federally guaranteed student loans for nontraditional programs like online certificates or coding boot camps.

Perhaps most effective is reaching students as early as elementary school. Educators should focus on teaching technical skills, like coding and statistics, and skills that still give humans an edge over machines, like creativity and collaboration, experts say. And since no one knows which jobs will be automated later, it may be most important to learn flexibility and how to learn new things.

Create New and Better Jobs

The problem, at least for now, is not that there isn’t enough work — there is, but it is very different from the kind of work technology is displacing. Manufacturing and warehousing jobs are shrinking, while jobs that provide services (health care, child care, elder care, education, food) are growing. “We are far from the end of work, but face a big challenge redeploying people toward addressing our society’s very real needs,” Mr. Brynjolfsson said.

One idea is for the government to subsidize private employment or even volunteer jobs. “If the private market isn’t creating the jobs people need, then the public sector should engage in direct job creation,” said Jared Bernstein, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, who was chief economist for Vice President Joe Biden. He said the technique “has a better track record than people think.” A recent study by the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality examined 40 programs over 40 years, and found they were successful at things like improving workers’ skills and reducing their dependence on public benefits.

President Trump and many others have proposed putting people to work building and repairing bridges, roads and other infrastructure. He has said he wants to do it in part by offering tax credits to private companies.

Construction jobs are being automated, though, and not everyone has the skills to do advanced building. A less discussed option is make-work, like government-funded jobs gardening in parks or reading to older people.

More people would do caregiving jobs if they paid better, said Lawrence Katz, a Harvard labor economist: “Nothing says home health aide has to be a minimum wage job.” That seems unlikely anytime soon, especially without strengthening labor unions.

Economists largely agree that manufacturing jobs aren’t coming back, but the United States could slow the losses by attracting more advanced manufacturing, especially in green energy, Mr. Bernstein said. “Some smart country is going to dominate the market for battery storage, for example,” he said. “That should be us.”

People who lose their jobs often don’t have the money to pick up and move to where jobs and training are, so he suggests the government help people move. But it’s not just about money — many people don’t want to upend their lives.

Bolster the Safety Net

There seems to be bipartisan support for expanding the earned-income tax credit, which rewards low-income people for working.

Much more fanciful, at least in the United States, is a universal basic income, in which the government gives everyone a guaranteed amount of money. But that idea is gaining with thinkers across the ideological spectrum. Critics say it would discourage people from working; proponents say it would free them to go back to school or to do work they’re passionate about.

“The key response must initially be to expand the earned-income tax credit and then ultimately have a universal basic income ensuring at least subsistence,” said Robert Reich, public policy professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who was labor secretary under President Clinton.

More realistically, the Obama administration proposed wage insurance to make up the difference for people who move to lower-paying jobs. For instance, machinists, in a shrinking occupation, earn a median hourly wage of $19.50, while home health care aides, in a growing occupation, earn $10.50.

Change the Way Work Is Done

Most people have skills to earn money, so why not make it easier to do so without an employer? Freelance and contract workers could get portable benefits. They wouldn’t have to be tied to a job to get health insurance, for example, (though the drama over health care makes the expansion of other benefits seem unlikely). Similar and more feasible ideas include easing regulations for companies to hire contract workers (which is happening more, though not necessarily to the benefit of workers), and building co-working spaces so that people get the camaraderie of an office.

Governments could also make it easier to start small businesses. Third Way proposes borrowing an idea from Silicon Valley and creating venture capital funds, seeded by the federal government, for states to invest in local entrepreneurs. “People in the rest of the country have good jobs-producing ideas, too,” said Jim Kessler, senior vice president for policy at Third Way.

There’s bipartisan support for a policy that would surely help: reducing licensing requirements for many kinds of work. Thirty percent of jobs in the United States require some sort of license, according to one estimate. Sometimes it’s for safety reasons, as with doctors or electricians. But in some places, hair shampooers, makeup artists and florists need licenses.

Machines may take so many jobs that there aren’t enough left for humans. That would suggest policies like cutting hours instead of employees. The United States has had a 40-hour workweek only since 1940. Why not shorten the workweek to three or four days, or institute job sharing, which has been successful in Germany? “That’s the realm of science fiction,” Mr. Cowen said. “It’s not an America we would recognize.”

The New York Times

Robots to Help Doctors in Recognizing Patients’ Pain

Robots to Help Doctors in Recognizing Patients’ Pain

San Francisco, London- A team of US researchers has developed a new technique allowing doctors to understand the patient’s facial expressions, through a robot that can express pain. This will definitely help doctors in diagnosing disease and evaluating the level of pain felt by patients. Yet, it’s a difficult skill to be practiced and learned by doctors.

Many doctors already use robotic patient simulators in their training to practice procedures and test their diagnostic abilities. “These robots can bleed, breathe and react to medication,” says Laurel Riek at the University of California, San Diego. “They are incredible, but there is a major design flaw – their face.”

Patient simulators usually have static faces, often with an open mouth so doctors can practice checking airways. This means that, unlike a real patient, they show no emotion.

To change this, Riek and her team have given a robotic face the ability to make expressions of pain, disgust and anger, to help emulate realistic patient feedback.

“Interpreting a patient’s facial expressions can help determine if they are having a stroke, are in pain or are having a reaction to medication, so doctors need to be able to do this from day one,” Riek told the New Scientist website.

The researchers collected videos of people expressing pain, disgust and anger, and used face-tracking software to convert their expressions into a series of moving points. They then mapped these onto the robot face with real human features, and skin made of rubber.

Researchers think that robots that are able to express feelings can actually help doctors to better diagnose the patient’s pains. These robots will be beneficial for students studying physical symptoms and reading facial expressions.

Priscilla Briggs, a software engineer at Google said that this technique could be used very soon to better train our medical professionals and improve patient outcomes; but further work will be required to show that a robot’s expressions can improve clinicians’ performance, she says.

Robots Manufacture other Robots in Japan

Robots Manufacture other Robots in Japan

London-Japan occupies the first place globally in the number of robots working in the auto plants with 1,276 robots for every 10,000 worker in this sector, according to a World Bank survey.

Notably, there is a very high percentage of robots that work in factories producing robots, which means that artificial intelligence manages itself.

This intelligence is developing very quickly with machines having eyes that are connected to a computer, knowing sizes, shapes and colors and analyzing all the information they receive to take the right decision at the right time easily and around the clock.

The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry issued a report indicating that Japan manufactures 150,000 robots annually with 25 percent of them for local use.

The report noted that robots are invading various sectors, especially the food, pharmaceutical industries and household services.

“The Ministry requests speeding up the introduction of robots in all sectors, especially those that suffer from labor shortage,” the report added.

The number of foreign workers in Japan is low as the country rarely opens its doors for foreigners even with its shortage in the number of workers due to its relatively conservative community.

Companies like Canon, which is specialized in manufacturing cameras, are planning to establish automated and mechanized factories 100%, to be the first worldwide in this field.

Tweeting Space Robots are a Hit for NASA


Washington – London: He may have been all alone on the Red Planet at Christmas but NASA’s robotic Curiosity rover said he didn’t “feel lonely.”

At the beginning of the year, he wished everyone a “HappyNewYear from Mars!”

And though he had a small problem with his drill just before the holidays, he was quick to reassure his Twitter followers, “I’m all right – don’t nobody worry ‘bout me. I’m driving again. Troubleshooting the drill, but science never stopped!”

Curiosity hasn’t just been a scientific success for NASA, but also a marketing success.

On Twitter more than 3.6 million people follow the research robot, which landed on Mars in August 2012 and is looking for signs of whether microbes have ever flourished there and whether the planet could be suitable for human habitation.

On Instagram it has more than 100,000 followers and on Facebook more than 1.3 million.
“Who’s got six wheels, a laser and is now on the Red Planet? Me,” the rover says in Facebook’s “About” section.

The 900-kilogram robot, which is the size of a small car, send out regular fun tweets and always in the first person.

The social media team behind it, based in NASA’s Jet Propulsion laboratory in Pasadena, California, has already won prizes for its work.

“Curiosity Rover is a great example of how NASA uses popular media to bring deep space exploration closer to home,” says Josh Greenberg, director of the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University in the Canadian capital of Ottawa.

In the past three years the robot has quadrupled the number of its fans on Twitter.

That reflects Twitter’s general growth, says Greenberg, but also how NASA’s social media team “has used its Twitter and Facebook presence to humanise what is otherwise a complex, vital science programme through use of wit, charm and intertextual references to popular culture.”

For NASA that’s important for several reasons. The space agency’s founding mission is not to research but also to explain that research to people and educate them.

A popular Twitter profile can help enthuse people about space travel and help justify tax dollars spent on it, says Greenberg.

It’s also good for NASA’s rather damaged reputation.

Curiosity has been celebrated as a showcase but it isn’t the first research robot to tweet in the first person and he certainly has a lot of company these days.

NASA’s Juno space probe, currently on its way to Jupiter, has already gained 500,000 fans on Twitter.
The Europan Space Agency has also got involved in the action.

Its Rosetta space probe and its lander module Philae, which began shadowing the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014 told hundreds of thousands of fans about their adventures on Twitter.

In September the Rosetta sent a goodbye message as she prepared for a crash landing on the comet.

“Since I’m going to get even busier later, I don’t want to miss the chance to say ‘so long and thanks for all the tweets’ … THANKKYOU Earth for letting me share this great adventure with you!”

London Exhibition Charts 500 Years of Evolution of Robots

London- When you step into a huge robots’ exhibition at the Science Museum in London, you feel like it’s a pure technical exhibition that deals with innovations. However, this impression changes once you find out it’s about a “500-year quest to make machines human.”

The “Robots” exhibition will feature over 100 models in what the museum calls the most significant collection of humanoid robots ever displayed.

The exhibition starts with the sample of a new-born child that moves his hands and makes voices. It is among the new possessions of the exhibition and stimulates the emotions of visitors with some programmed movements like moving hands, breathing and sneezing.

This robot is usually used in movies instead of real children as it looks like a real human being.

The exhibition is composed of five pavilions with one of them featuring how robots were created based on religious beliefs; this pavilion exhibits an automaton monk made in 1560 that hides its hands under its robe, while showing simple movements of hands and lips in sign of prayer.

Among the most amazing pieces at the London show is a mechanical silver swan on loan from the Bowes Museum that will remain part of the exhibition until March 23. The wind-up bird dates back to around 1773 and performs a 37-second routine to music in which it preens its own neck before plucking a fish from a flowing filigree stream and swallowing it.

A pavilion at the museum was dedicated for dreams and future predictions in the field of robots which usually appear in movies. Ben Russell, the lead curator of the exhibition, said that robots have always been present in the popular culture since people used the term “robot” in 1920. The exhibition also shows the T-Terminator Robot used in “Terminator Salvation” starred by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Visitors can also meet the first robot developed in the UK known as “Erik.”

‘Robots’ to Compete with Humans by 2025


London – Intensified studies and researches carried out by more than one party, including Oxford and the World Economic Forum, revealed that by the year 2025 the jobs of taxi drivers and banks and reception staff will be at risk.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, defined as the robotic revolution and artificial intelligence, will threaten the current life style, communication, education and real life, which will transfer into a virtual one starting from sewing shops and not ending with pharmacies.

Meanwhile, some professions will remain safe such as medicine, advocacy and elementary school teachers.

Two researchers in Oxford University Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne estimated that about 47 percent of total U.S. employment is at risk of computerization.

For his part, Head of Society and Innovation in the World Economic Forum Nicholas Davis told Asharq Al-Awsat that one third of human skills will become worthless in less than 10 years.

He explained: “Now in many restaurants the customer no more needs to communicate with an employee to order a meal as he can just choose the meal using a touch screen, pay for it and receive it from the takeaway window.”

This is applied in many restaurants in the United States and European countries, he said.

Davis also said that governments will face difficulties in legislating tech laws because the Fourth Industrial Revolution could surprise them any moment, just like self-driving cars were invented along with many other applications.

Davis further noted that awareness is the only solution to face upcoming technological changes and developments that will puzzle people.

In the meantime, technology is controlling humans and not vice versa, he said.

The latest scientific research achieved in this matter was published on Wednesday by MIT professor and Director of the Initiative on the Digital Economy Erik Brynjolfsson who said: “The future is not pre-ordained by machines. It’s created by humans. Technology is a tool. We can use it in many different ways.”

He also said that he is aware of people’s concern when it comes to losing their jobs such as truck drivers and receptionists who might lose their jobs in the coming decade due to this technology.