Robots are Coming


On Sunday I happened upon a radio show about robots and how they’ll revolutionize industry. The program mentioned how construction is far more labor intensive compared to other fields and how there are now robots that do these jobs much more quickly and without needing bathroom breaks, vacations, lunch time, etc. Robots do need maintenance but they don’t get tired as people do. They don’t need insurance or a pension. They won’t strike. You get the idea.

The video at the top shows a robot that lays bricks. Masons are still needed, but not as many. The robot can lay bricks an estimated 3 to 5 times faster than a mason.


Here we see a robot that can do demolition work.

In the radio show, the presenters asserted that a house could be build much faster and far cheaper. A small brick house could be built for $5000. Amazing. That would really do something to the housing market as a whole.

Of course the big question is how will this impact labor and economics. People do need jobs. The Second Industrial Revolution featured great turmoil as the people who worked as craftsmen were put out of work. Can we learn from those mistakes? Can we plan so that thousands of people aren’t thrust into poverty?

We also have the advent of driverless cars. I’m not a fan. I realize that these cars can prevent accidents, but I like driving and accidents seem rare. This change will do away with truck drivers, cab drivers, bus drivers, etc do when their jobs are eliminated. One reason I prefer to take the bus if I’m in the city at night is that there’s a person who can take action if there’s a crime on the bus, while the subway lacks personnel. In the early days there are sure to be more accidents with the driverless cars malfunctioning.

Change Ain’t Easy

So I figured out how to download the Christmas style-sheet I used so I could save it and then change my theme. My former WordPress theme, as I’ve mentioned, disappeared without so much as a “by your leave” from WordPress. I’m glad I’m not holding my breath for WordPress to reply to my query on this.

I have also been waiting for the exported file that was supposed to be emailed to me. I’m not sure where that is.

Anyway, here’s a new theme. It doesn’t have the color or delight that Koi offered, but I didn’t see a free theme that had that same look. I regret changing but how did I know it would be irreversible.

I realize change is good, but ironically, my holiday change resulted in a forced change.

Mindshift

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I first encountered Barbara Oakley, PhD in the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) called Learning to Learn on Coursera.org. She taught the engaging course with Terrence Sejnowski, PhD.

To say Mindshift is mind-blowing is an understatement. The book explores how we can change our thinking to learn better and change the trajectory of our careers. Each chapter interviews a person who’s struggled and then implemented a new way of thinking to succeed in a career or career change. For example, one chapter follows a successful jazz musician who decided he wanted to do more for the children at the hospital where he volunteered. He wasn’t good at science or math in school, but after adopting new learning skills, he succeeded in the math and science classes he needed and got into med school. (By the way, studies have shown that music majors make better doctors than biology majors.)

Another chapter presents the importance of mentors through research as well as the life experience of a man who got off track and dropped out of high school. He had been ditching school and when his parents found out, he convinced them to let him quit. They did, but required him to get a job. When he did, he also started seeking out mentors. He didn’t join any organized programs, he just lined up people who were doing the work that he needed to learn or that fascinated him. He didn’t come to them expecting a one-way street. He figured out how he could offer them service of value so the relationship was balanced.

The only chapter I thought could be better was on career change. It did have some helpful tips, but as the man portrayed changed from one science (physics) to another (neurobiology) while the subject and types of experiments were different, he remained in academia where he could sit in on a college courses for free and get post doc jobs. Thus his change wasn’t as dramatic as other people’s. The industry he was in offered ways to retrain and respected his doctorate in physics so that his path wasn’t as bumpy as others.

Poem of the Week

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Amoretti I: Happy ye leaves when as those lilly hands

by Edmund Spenser

Happy ye leaves when as those lilly hands,
Which hold my life in their dead doing might
Shall handle you and hold in loves soft bands,
Lyke captives trembling at the victors sight.
And happy lines, on which with starry light,
Those lamping eyes will deigne sometimes to look
And reade the sorrowes of my dying spright,
Written with teares in harts close bleeding book.
And happy rymes bath’d in the sacred brooke,
Of Helicon whence she derived is,
When ye behold that Angels blessed looke,
My soules long lacked foode, my heavens blis.
Leaves, lines, and rymes, seeke her to please alone,
Whom if ye please, I care for other none.

China & the Lewis Turning Point

According to the Financial Times, China’s boom has peaked and opportunities are drying up. This short video is well made and includes interesting interviews with Chinese factory workers who’re heading home or contemplating such a move and with a Vietnamese worker who went to China. I had no idea that Chinese factories were bringing in illegal workers from Vietnam.

Do We Need This?

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I’ve been watching the construction on this corner since the spring. I thought the second floor would have a new version of my favorite restaurant. Well, yesterday I saw them painting the building blue and that they’d put a sign for a hotel up.

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A hotel? There are at least 4 hotels within walking distance on the main road. One’s fairly nice and the other three are budget hotels. I can’t imagine this small hotel will be sought after. It’s on top of the new traditional market, which I’d think would mean it’ll be noisy in the mornings

I’m losing hope that I’ll ever have spicy chicken in bread pockets again.

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My only hope is that this restaurant which they’re remodelng will house “The Red Door” restaurant.