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CES 2018: Were robots more than a gimmick at the tech show?

Media playback is unsupported on your device If you’ve ever wanted a robot to do the vacuuming, then the CES tech show has something for you. The Aeolus robot is designed to perform a range of household tasks – including mopping floors, rearranging furniture and putting away dishes. However, like many of the bots showcased in Las Vegas this year, the pressure sometimes got to it. “Aeolus has had enough,” tweeted Signe Brewster, a writer at tech site Wirecutter, after observing the bot stall inexplicably during a demo. The moment…

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Workplace robots could increase inequality, warns IPPR

The government must intervene to stop automation driving up wage inequality, a think tank has warned. The Institute for Public Policy Research said robots would not necessarily be bad for the economy. However, it warned lower-skilled jobs were much more likely to be phased out in the coming decades, and only higher-skilled workers would be able to command better wages. The government said it was committed to making automation work for everyone. According to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) – a centre-left think tank – automation could raise…

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Culture 

What the Robots of Star Wars Tell Us About the Future of Human Work

Millions of fans all over the world are eagerly anticipating this week’s release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the eighth in the series. At last we will get some answers to questions that have been vexing us since 2015’s The Force Awakens. Throughout the franchise, the core characters have been accompanied by a number of much-loved robots, including C-3PO, R2-D2 and more recently, BB-8 and K2-SO. While often fulfilling the role of wise-cracking sidekicks, these and other robots also play an integral role in events. Interestingly, they can also tell us useful…

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San Francisco to restrict goods delivery robots

San Francisco officials have voted to restrict where delivery robots can go in the city, in a blow for the burgeoning industry. Start-ups will have to get permits to use such bots, which will be restricted to less crowded urban areas. Opponents are concerned about the safety of pedestrians, particularly elderly people and children. Walk San Francisco, a group that campaigns for pedestrian safety, wanted a complete ban. A range of companies have begun trialling small robots that can deliver food and other goods. They use sensors and lasers in…

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Terrorists 'certain' to get killer robots, says defence giant

Rogue states and terrorists will get their hands on lethal artificial intelligence “in the very near future”, a House of Lords committee has been told. Alvin Wilby, vice-president of research at French defence giant Thales, which supplies reconnaissance drones to the British Army, said the “genie is out of the bottle” with smart technology. And he raised the prospect of attacks by “swarms” of small drones that move around and select targets with only limited input from humans. “The technological challenge of scaling it up to swarms and things like…

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