Category Archives: Human Robots
Over the last 100 years, the world has changed tremendously.
For perspective, this year at Abundance 360, I gave a few fun examples of what the world looked like in 1917.
This blog is a look at what the world looked like a century ago and what it looks like today.
Let’s dive in.
One hundred years ago, things looked a little bit different.
1. World Literacy Rates
– 1917: The world literacy rate was only 23 percent.
– Today: Depending on estimates, the world literacy rate today is 86.1 percent.
2. Travel Time
– 1917: It took 5 days to get from London to New York; 3.5 months to travel from London to Australia.
– Today: A nonstop flight gets you from London to New York in a little over 8 hours, and you can fly from London to Australia in about a day, with just one stop.
3. Average Price of a US House
– 1917: The average price of a U.S. house was $5,000. ($111,584.29 when adjusted for inflation).
– Today: As of 2010, the average price of a new home sold in the U.S. was $272,900.
4. The First Hamburger
– 1917: The hamburger bun was invented by a fry cook named Walter Anderson, who co-founded White Castle.
– Today: On average, Americans eat three hamburgers a week. That's a national total of nearly 50 billion burgers per year. And now we’re even inventing 100 percent plant-based beef burgers… produced by Impossible Foods and available at select restaurants.
5. Average Price of a Car in the US
– 1917: The average price of a car in the US was $400 ($8,926.74 when adjusted for inflation)
– Today: The average car price in the US was $34,968 as of January 2017.
6. The First Boeing Aircraft
– 1917: A Boeing aircraft flew for the first time on June 15.
– Today: In 2015, there were almost 24,000 turboprop and regional aircraft, as well as wide body and narrow body jets, in service worldwide.
– 1917: On July 1, 1916, Coca-Cola introduced its current formula to the market.
– Today: Today, Coca-Cola has a market cap of about $178 billion with 2015 net operating revenues over $44 billion. Each day, over 1.9 billion servings of Coca-Cola drinks are enjoyed in more than 200 countries.
7. Average US Wages
– 1917: The average US hourly wage was 22 cents an hour ($4.90 per hour when adjusted for inflation)
– Today: The average US hourly wage is approximately $26 per hour.
– 1917: The first "super" market, PigglyWiggly, opened on September 6, 1916 in Memphis, TN.
– Today: In 2015, there were 38,015 supermarkets, employing 3.4 million people and generating sales of about $650 billion.
– 1917: John D. Rockefeller became the world's first billionaire on September 29.
– Today: There are approximately 1,810 billionaires, and their aggregate net worth is $6.5 trillion.
For context, Rockefeller’s net worth in today’s dollars would have been about $340 billion. Bill Gates, the world’s richest man, is worth $84 billion today.
10. Telephones (Landlines vs. Cellphones)
– 1917: Only 8 percent of homes had a landline telephone.
– Today: Forget landlines! In the US, nearly 80 percent of the population has a smartphone (a supercomputer in their pockets). Nearly half of all American households now use only cellphones rather than older landlines. And as far as cost, today, you can Skype anywhere in the world for free over a WiFi network.
11. Traffic (Horses to Cars)
– 1917: In 1912, traffic counts in New York showed more cars than horses for the first time.
– Today: There were approximately 253 million cars and trucks on US roads in 2015.
12. US Population
– 1917: The US population broke 100 million, and the global population reached 1.9 billion.
– Today: The US population is 320 million, and the global population broke 7.5 billion this year.
13. Inventions and Technology
– 1917: The major tech invention in 1917? The toggle light switch.
– Today: The major tech invention of today? CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology, which enables us to reprogram life as we know it. And we are making strides in AI, robotics, sensors, networks, synthetic biology, materials science, space exploration and more every day.
14. High School Graduation Rates
– 1917: Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.
– Today: Over 80 percent of all Americans graduated high school this past year.
15. Cost of Bread
– 1917: A loaf of bread was $0.07 ($1.50 when adjusted for inflation).
– Today: A loaf of bread costs $2.37.
16. Speed Limits
– 1917: The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
– Today: The maximum speed limit in most cities is about 70 mph.
Just wait for the next 100 years.
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Elon Musk thinks human cyborgs could counter the threat from artificial intelligence. Continue reading
Understanding Agent CooperationJoel Leibo, Vinicius Zambaldi, Marc Lanctot, Janusz Marecki, Thore Graepel | Google DeepMind Blog"Recent progress in artificial intelligence and specifically deep reinforcement learning provides us with the tools to look at the problem of social dilemmas through a new lens… we showed that we can apply the modern AI technique of deep multi-agent reinforcement learning to age-old questions in social science such as the mystery of the emergence of cooperation."
Agility Robotics Introduces Cassie, a Dynamic and Talented Robot Delivery OstrichEvan Ackerman | IEEE Spectrum"Agility Robotics, a spin-off of Oregon State University, is officially announcing a shiny new bipedal robot named Cassie. Cassie is a dynamic walker, meaning that it walks much more like humans do than most of the carefully plodding bipedal robots we’re used to seeing… Cassie has some work to do before it’s ready to be hauling groceries up stairs for you, but we’re very much looking forward to watching this robot taking more steps toward robust and dynamic legged locomotion."
How Escape Rooms and Live Theater Are Paving the Way for VRBryan Bishop | The Verge"Cinema has had more than a century to develop its own language of shots, cuts, and transitions, while storytelling in VR is still in its infancy… creators seem to be zeroing in on interactive, experiential moments as one of the key building blocks of VR storytelling. One of Chris Milk’s next projects is a piece set in the Planet of the Apes universe that will lean heavily on AI to drive interactive character performances."
QUANTUM PHYSICS & COSMOLOGY
The Universe Is as Spooky as Einstein ThoughtNatalie Wolchover | The Atlantic "With an experiment described this week in Physical Review Letters—a feat that involved harnessing starlight to control measurements of particles shot between buildings in Vienna—some of the world’s leading cosmologists and quantum physicists are closing the door on an intriguing alternative to 'quantum entanglement.'"
The Army Is Testing Brainwave-Reading Technology for DriversJordan Pearson | MOTHERBOARD "In the study, the researchers developed a series of algorithms to interpret brainwaves based on their previous work, and tried them out on 16 different people strapped into a car in a testing chamber. The test subjects were asked to drive down a long, uniform highway and periodically switch lanes in a simulation. Their brainwaves were recorded during the test, and a video camera kept tabs on them."
FUTURE OF LEARNING
The Techies Who Are Hacking Education by Homeschooling Their KidsJason Tanz | WIRED"'The world is changing. It’s looking for people who are creative and entrepreneurial, and that’s not going to happen in a system that tells kids what to do all day,' Samantha says. 'So how do you do that? Well if the system won’t allow it, as the saying goes: If you want something done right, do it yourself.'"
SILICON VALLEY POLITICS
Companies That Stay Silent on Political Issues Can Pay a Hefty PriceDaniel Korschun | Fast Company"Chevron, Disney, Verizon, GM, Wells Fargo and others have all taken a wait-and-see approach… Such responses are no doubt based on the prevailing wisdom that companies need to stay out of politics… in fact, the opposite may be true: It may be more dangerous to remain silent than to take a political stand… As long as a company is not being deceptive by obfuscating its beliefs, consumers can be surprisingly tolerant of a company that holds an opposing view."
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One day, robots like these will be scampering up your steps to drop off packages Continue reading
Quantum computers promise to crack some of the world’s most intractable problems by super-charging processing power. But the technical challenges involved in building these machines mean they’ve still achieved just a fraction of what they are theoretically capable of.
Now physicists from the UK have created a blueprint for a soccer-field-sized machine they say could reach the blistering speeds that would allow them to solve problems beyond the reach of today’s most powerful supercomputers.
The system is based on a modular design interlinking multiple independent quantum computing units, which could be scaled up to almost any size. Modular approaches have been suggested before, but innovations such as a far simpler control system and inter-module connection speeds 100,000 times faster than the state-of-the-art make this the first practical proposal for a large-scale quantum computer.
“For many years, people said that it was completely impossible to construct an actual quantum computer. With our work we have not only shown that it can be done, but now we are delivering a nuts and bolts construction plan to build an actual large-scale machine,” professor Winfried Hensinger, head of the Ion Quantum Technology Group at the University of Sussex who led the research, said in a press release.
The technology at the heart of the individual modules is already well-established and relies on trapping ions (charged atoms) in magnetic fields to act as “qubits,” the basic units of information in quantum computers.
While bits in conventional computers can have a value of either 1 or 0, qubits take advantage of the quantum mechanical phenomena of superposition, which allows them to be both at the same time.
As Elizabeth Gibney explains in Nature, this is what makes quantum computers so incredibly fast. “The set of qubits comprising the memory of a quantum computer could exist in every possible combination of 1s and 0s at once. Where a classical computer has to try each combination in turn, a quantum computer could process all those combinations simultaneously.”
In a paper published in the journal Science Advances last week, researchers outline designs for modules containing roughly 2,500 qubits and suggest interlinking thousands of them together to create a machine containing two billion qubits. For comparison, Canadian firm D-Wave, the only commercial producer of quantum computers, just brought out its latest model featuring 2,000 qubits.
This is not the first time a modular system like this has been suggested, but previous approaches have recommended using light waves traveling through fiber optics to link the units. This results in interaction rates between modules far slower than the quantum operations happening within them, putting a handbrake on the system’s overall speed. In the new design, the ions themselves are shuttled from one module to another using electrical fields, which results in 100,000 times faster connection speeds.
The system also has a much simpler way of controlling qubits. Previous designs required lasers to be carefully targeted at each ion, an enormous engineering challenge when dealing with billions of qubits. Instead, the new system uses microwave fields and the careful application of voltages, which is much easier to scale up.
The researchers concede there are still considerable technical challenges to building a device on the scale they have suggested, not to mention the cost. But they have already announced plans to build a prototype based on the design at the university at a cost of £1-2 million.
“While this proposal is incredibly challenging, I wish more in the quantum community would think big like this,” Christopher Monroe, a physicist at the University of Maryland who has worked on trapped-ion quantum computing, told Nature.
In their paper, the researchers predict their two billion qubit system could find the prime factors of a 617-digit-long number in 110 days. This is significant because many state-of-the-art encryption systems rely on the fact that factoring large numbers can take conventional computers thousands of years. This is why many in the cybersecurity world are nervous about the advent of quantum computing.
These researchers aren’t the only ones working on bringing quantum computing into the real world, though. Google, Microsoft and IBM are all developing their own systems, and D-Wave recently open-sourced a software tool that helps those without a background in quantum physics program its machines.
All that interest is due to the enormous potential of quantum computing to solve problems as diverse and complex as developing drugs for previously incurable diseases, devising new breeds of materials for high-performance superconductors, magnets and batteries and even turbo-charging machine learning and artificial intelligence.
"The availability of a universal quantum computer may have a fundamental impact on society as a whole,” said Hensinger. “Without doubt it is still challenging to build a large-scale machine, but now is the time to translate academic excellence into actual application, building on the UK's strengths in this ground-breaking technology.”
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