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Any Tech news » Gadgets http://anytechnews.com Wed, 23 Aug 2017 01:43:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.9 Pepper the robot can perform funerary rites, but it shouldn’t http://anytechnews.com/pepper-the-robot-can-perform-funerary-rites-but-it-shouldnt/ http://anytechnews.com/pepper-the-robot-can-perform-funerary-rites-but-it-shouldnt/#comments Wed, 23 Aug 2017 01:40:33 +0000 http://anytechnews.com/pepper-the-robot-can-perform-funerary-rites-but-it-shouldnt/


It’s not really clear just what “humanoid” robots are actually for. I’ve seen them do all kinds of things, but almost none of them well; at our recent Robotics event in Boston, several leading experts in the field questioned their necessity. But we grew up with Data and Robby and Cylons, and so now we have Pepper. Pepper, performing funeral rites for cash-strapped people in Japan. Really?

This week is ENDEX, the Tokyo International Funeral and Cemetery Show and Life Ending Industry Expo — which, sure, isn’t for everyone, but honestly is a very important industry and one in which technology plays an increasing role.

But while I can get behind the idea of robotic grave cleaners, epitaph etchers, urn retrievers and things along those lines, this seems like a step in the wrong direction.

Pepper can bend its body, but it can’t bow, because bowing is an expression of respect and Pepper can neither express itself or feel respect.

According to the Japan Times, “Kanagawa-based Nissei Eco Co. will offer Pepper — billed as the world’s first robot that can read emotions — to chant Buddhist sutras at funerals, providing a cheaper alternative to human priests.”

(Just as a quick aside, I don’t buy that Pepper actually reads emotions — no robot or computer vision system can do that. Hell, neither can I most of the time.)

It’s meant to help bring down the costs of funerary services in Japan, where (as elsewhere) they can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. But this is just a bad, dumb idea.

It’s a bad idea to introduce autonomy, or any machine really, into a situation that fundamentally calls for respect and sympathy, because machines have neither.

And it’s a dumb idea because Pepper specifically isn’t good at this job! Humanoid robots are created with the idea of existing and interacting with human spaces. There’s nothing about a human-shaped machine that makes it better at praying. If anything, it’s a mockery of the devotion and care that prayer is meant to embody. Not to mention the whole no-souls thing.

Mechanically it’s no better than playing an MP3 of the sutras on repeat, though it’s a great deal more expensive.

We have to consider with care how we integrate robots, AI, the internet and other technological advances into our lives and cultures. Dull, dirty, and dangerous work (the “three Ds”) are a perfect fit. Shoehorning them in where people are vulnerable like this and need a human touch is distasteful and bizarre.



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Markforged announces two 3D printers that produce items as strong as steel http://anytechnews.com/markforged-announces-two-3d-printers-that-produce-items-as-strong-as-steel/ http://anytechnews.com/markforged-announces-two-3d-printers-that-produce-items-as-strong-as-steel/#comments Tue, 22 Aug 2017 01:39:40 +0000 http://anytechnews.com/markforged-announces-two-3d-printers-that-produce-items-as-strong-as-steel/


Markforged, a 3D printer manufacturer based in Boston, has just announced two new models — the X3 and the X5. Both of these printers are designed to create carbon fiber-infused objects using a standard filament printing system and both can produce items that can replace or are stronger than steel objects.

Both printers have auto-leveling and scanning systems to ensure each printed object is exactly like every other. Further, the printers use Markforged’s special thermoplastic fiber filament, while the X5 can add a “strand of continuous fiberglass” to create objects “19X stronger and 10X stiffer than traditional plastics.” This means you can print both usable parts and usable tools using the same machine and, thanks to the fiberglass weave, you can ensure that the piece won’t snap on use. For example, one customer printed a custom valve wrench in 10 minutes using one of these printers.

Now for the bad news. The X3 costs a mere $36,990, while the X5 costs $49,900. These are aimed at what Markforged calls “local manufacturers.” Luckily you’re not stuck with the printer if you outgrow it. The X3 can easily be upgraded to work with X5’s filament and both are aimed at manufacturing shops that need to produce finished products on the fly.

“Customers can now, with ease, print same-day parts that optimize strength and affordability for their specific needs,” said CEO Greg Mark.

These printers are part of Markforged’s effort at creating a real “teleporter.” Thanks to the complex scanning and measurement systems built into these units, users can receive a 3D printer model and print it to exacting specifications. The system also has a failsafe mode that restarts at any time as the laser scanner can check to see exactly where the print stopped. The company is also hard at work on some impressive metal printing technologies that turn out parts that are usable in complex machines.



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Watch Microsoft’s Xbox One X Gamescom conference live right here http://anytechnews.com/watch-microsofts-xbox-one-x-gamescom-conference-live-right-here/ http://anytechnews.com/watch-microsofts-xbox-one-x-gamescom-conference-live-right-here/#comments Mon, 21 Aug 2017 01:38:40 +0000 http://anytechnews.com/watch-microsofts-xbox-one-x-gamescom-conference-live-right-here/