Low-cost Robots

Researchers at Stanford have built a robot that does a pretty impressive job of cooking. ALOHA (stands for “a low-cost open-source hardware teleoperation system for bimanual operation”) can do a better job than a lot of humans, and it only cost $32,000.

It even cleans up after itself.

ALOHA uses off-the-shelf parts, 3-D printed hardware, and AI to create an inexpensive robot that can learn new tasks.

Human supervision

As you’ll see if you watch the video all the way to the end, ALOHA requires human supervision, and indeed it is almost entirely controlled by the movements of a human being.

It also makes mistakes, but who doesn’t?

The team at Stanford is hoping to teach ALOHA to do laundry next. This is a job that robots have been unable to do up till now. If they succeed, they might be able to say that they’ve proven that low-cost machinery, combined with AI learning, can do tasks that have not been successfully attempted before.

At a price

Costs for robots have been falling, several robotics companies are promising to mass produce humanoid robots, and options like leasing are allowing companies to move into automation more comfortably than in the past.

Cheaper robots could automate more tasks across various industries, potentially boosting productivity and economic growth. This could create new jobs in areas like robot design, maintenance,and oversight. Automated tasks could free up human labor for more creative or strategic work, potentially leading to higher efficiency and better resource allocation. Cheaper robots could also be deployed for search and rescue missions, hazardous material management, and disaster relief efforts, potentially saving lives and minimizing damage.

Basically, the things robots have theoretically been able to do could become commonplace in real life.

Still, even if we overlook the possibility that robots costing less than human workers would cause widespread job losses, overreliance on robots for critical tasks could create vulnerabilities to technical failures, cyberattacks, and unforeseen consequences.

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