The robots are coming for our jobs, artificial intelligence is ascendant, and invisible programs are taking over our lives. “Automation” is the word that comes up in each of those contexts and plenty more. It’s certainly one of the looming concepts of Our Times—a business imperative, an economic driver, a utopian ideal. We’re automating work, systems, services. Surveillance, commerce, manufacturing, policing. Everything, almost, or trying to. But it’s a deceptively nebulous concept, one that strikes a chord in our psyche beyond definitions like ‘the technique of making an apparatus, a process, or a system operate automatically.” Understanding how our thinking about automation—and where the drive to automate stems from—should help us better grasp how it’s playing out today. It’s only relatively recently, after all, that we’d pin the push to automate on something like “business owners who want to capture … [Read more...] about The Ancient Origins of Automation
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Amazon's Alexa and other voice-activated assistants are popping up everywhere these days. Alexa's user base, however, is decidedly young: A plurality of Amazon Echo users (24 percent) are between 18 and 29 years old, Forbes recently reported, while 30- to 44-year-olds make up 20 percent of its user base.Scott Moody's five-year old company K4Connect focuses on bringing the latest technologies -- including Alexa -- to senior citizens. It's a largely overlooked market with significant potential, he recently told ZDNet. On top of that, deploying technology for older Americans and observing the way they use it can shed light on what it takes to build a successful product. SEE: Alexa's land-and-expand strategy is racking up the numbers"There are some unique challenges associated with older adults," Moody recently said to ZDNet. When it comes to voice-activated assistants, that can include adjusting for "the cadence of [the user's] voice, acuity levels, maybe, as you get much older... the … [Read more...] about Bringing Alexa to seniors: What can it teach us about tech?
IT, automate thyself. For years, IT has been leading the charge to automate processes up and down the business, but has been criticized for not automating itself enough. Manual scripting, firefighting, ad-hoc fixes and endless coding have long filled up the timesheets of IT teams. That's beginning to change, a recent Capgemini survey reveals. Enterprise-scale automation, while still in its infancy, is not only the job of IT, but in most cases, starts with IT itself. At the same time, automation proponents shouldn't look to automated IT for ROI or paybacks. Rather, the payback comes as automation-at-scale reaches selected critical business processes. The survey of 705 executives finds at-scale automation that stretches across multiple domains is a rare thing, with only about 16% if the organizations in the survey are deploying multiple use cases at scale, which the survey's authors define as "implementations that go beyond pilot and test projects and are adopted at a larger scale across … [Read more...] about Enterprise automation starts in IT departments, but gradually pays off elsewhere
We don’t actually have any truly self-driving cars on the roads just yet, but, according to a new poll, 71% of drivers across the world think they can buy one today. Of course, they can’t. Perhaps even more alarming, 11% of drivers are okay with the idea of having a little nap while using current driving assist technologies like adaptive cruise control. What the hell is the matter with you, global drivers? The poll was commissioned by Thatcham Research, Euro NCAP and Global NCAP, and clearly shows how cloudy and confusing the current state of driving automation is in the minds of most drivers. Current driver assist systems and semi-autonomous systems fall uncomfortably in the realm of both doing too much to assist the driver and promote disengagement, while simultaneously not doing enough to compensate for that disengagement. Matthew Avery, Director of Research at Thatcham Research describes the situation like this: “Some carmakers are designing and marketing … [Read more...] about All the Talk About Autonomous Cars Is Confusing the Hell Out of Everybody
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the need for a “common language” when it comes to self-driving cars. Ford recently came out in favor of standardized visual cues that autonomous vehicles could use to communicate intent to pedestrians, bicyclists, and other drivers. Meanwhile, critics continue to assail the five levels of automation as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers, the global standard for self-driving, for being overly broad and possibly dangerous. Most experts agree: we need a better, more unified way to talk about self-driving cars. Today, the RAND Corporation unveiled its own well-researched attempt to introduce a common language for autonomous vehicles. Titled “Measuring Automated Vehicle Safety: Forging a Framework,” the 91-page document seeks to answer the burning question: can fierce rivals find common ways to measure safety that would be helpful to the public? After all, that is the core obstacle to any effort to … [Read more...] about Self-driving cars need a common language to talk about safety, or they will fail