Robots : The future of mankind (part II)

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Ankur Thakur, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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In my previous article on Robots, I talked about how they are becoming an integral part of our lives. The robots are coming and their presence will eventually bridge the digital-physical divide, dramatically impacting human life, experts have said.

Last month Boston Dynamics showcased its upgraded Atlas robot to the world. On March 21st, Apple Inc. unveiled its robotic system called Liam. Liam is an attempt by Apple towards recycling its products as it can take apart junked iPhones and recover valuable materials that can be recycled, such as silver and tungsten. Apple has often been criticized for its components difficult to dissemble, refurbish and reuse (although sleek and seamless designs have been what Apple is known for). Liam, which has been under development for nearly three years, will initially focus on the iPhone 6.

Apple plans to modify and expand the system to handle different devices and recover more resources, the company said. The system started to operate at full capacity last month and can take apart one iPhone 6 every 11 seconds to recover aluminum, copper, tin, tungsten, cobalt, gold and silver parts, according to Apple. At that rate and working uninterrupted, Liam likely can handle no more than a few million phones per year, a small fraction of the more than 231 million phones Apple sold in 2015. Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, said in an interview that the robotic system is meant to push the technology sector toward more recycling, both by manufacturers and consumers. “We need more R&D if we are going to realize the idea of a circular economy in electronics,” she said, referring to a goal to reuse more materials through as many cycles as possible. The recycling system consists of 29 robotic modules on a single site near Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. It will focus initially on iPhone 6 phones sold in the United States, where Apple gets about 40 percent of its revenue.

The other latest advancement is made by Hanson Robotics. Displayed at SXSW in Austin, Texas, Sophia is the company’s latest attempt to create a humanlike robot, and the way her face moves is probably as humanlike as a robot has ever gotten. Sophia has 62 facial and neck architectures and a patented silicon skin called Frubber. She has cameras in her eyes that allow her to recognize faces and make eye contact. She can even participate in a conversation, using speech recognition software.

All these latest achievements in the field of Robotics is a sign as to where our future is heading to. Like it or not, Robots have a major role to play in fulfilling our future aspirations.

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