Friday, 5 December 2014

Hair's width accuracy not yet good enough for Apple's robots. Next: Will we be good enough?

Apple has told Foxconn in China to fix their assembly robots.   A hair's width averages 1/10th of a millimetre and Apple wants accuracy of 1/50th.  The clunky robots get only 1/20th because they come from the less fussy world of car assembly.  All should be fine after tweaks.  Meanwhile they just get to tighten screws, stuff like that.

Why robots?  Foxconn was in the news three years ago for hiring 1,000,000 robots  because cheap Chinese labour doesn't have the edge it used to.

It's sobering to think about manufactured servants that can swiftly and repeatably put out quality merchandise assembled accurately to the nearest 1/50th of a millimetre.  No minimum wage here.  This is the week that Stephen Hawking. made the news predicting Artificial Intelligence is likely to assume a life of its own in the very new future, out-competing our DNA brand.  Intelligence is like an infection or a virus, successful acquiring resources and getting it's code reproduced.   AI may do much better in the marketplace for energy and code.   The Singularity may be near but will it include us? 

"Foxbots" have been tasked with menial jobs that include the assembly of larger components and tightening screws. Unfortunately, the bots are proving to have an accuracy to 0.05 mm, which is above the 0.02 mm tolerance required to assemble Apple's products.

From the BBC quoting Hawking:
"It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate," he said.
Prof Hawking says the primitive forms of artificial intelligence developed so far have already proved very useful, but he fears the consequences of creating something that can match or surpass humans.  Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded."

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