October 13, 2017

This light and breezy video takes you to Mcity, a tiny town that serves as the test track for the University of Michigan’s autonomous vehicle research program. Engineers observe closely as self-driving cars learn how to avoid pedestrians and navigate through obstacles in a realistic setting.

Questions:

  1. What is the benefit of testing products like autonomous vehicles in controlled but realistic settings?
  2. Do you think self-driving cars will become a common sight on the road within a few years?
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June 19, 2017

robert-scobleA few months ago we looked at how increased competition has hurt sales at Whole Foods and slowed its growth in recent years. Faced with the possibility of shutting down stores, CEO John Mackey cleared five people from the board of directors, appointed a new chairwoman, and hired a new CFO. Executives even developed plans to cut costs while also improving operations.

Then suddenly everything changed: last week Amazon announced that it would buy Whole Foods for $13.4 billion. This Continue reading

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lyft-carSelf-driving vehicle technology has improved so much in recent years that the concept is no longer a futuristic fantasy. As automated driving becomes more refined, companies have begun to move out of the research phase and on to developing commercial strategies. Waymo, for instance, became a company in December 2016 after eight years of autonomous vehicle research by its parent Google. During that time, Waymo says that its vehicles logged more than 3 million miles driving in the real world. Continue reading

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For most non-rural people, the classic image of a dairy farm likely involves a solitary, bucket-toting farmer trudging out to the barn to milk the cows before dawn. As this video shows, though, modern American dairy farms are far more advanced than most city slickers would imagine. From automated milking machines to robot feeders, these high-tech tools help dairy farmers cut costs while also improving efficiency.

Questions:

 

  1. What are the advantages of automation on dairy farms?
  2. How have labor Continue reading
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March 29, 2017

ChantelMcGeeFrom factory floors to Wall Street financial firms, robotic labor is becoming an increasingly important part of production for many companies. And according to the head of Yum Brands, fast food could be the next industry to adopt automation on a wide scale. This week CEO Greg Creed said that robots could start replacing humans at Yum-owned chains like Pizza Hut and Taco Bell by the mid-2020s.

Other fast food companies have already begun to experiment with automation. Wendy’s, for Continue reading

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September 23, 2016

Although drone deliveries are still a few years away from becoming a reality, automated machines are already having a big impact in other parts of the supply chain. This short but visually rich video takes a look at the robots made by a company called Symbiotic and the ways that they have streamlined operations at a grocery warehouse.

Questions:

  1. What makes Symbiotic’s robots more efficient than human workers?
  2. Will worker robots from companies like Symbiotic eventually replace human labor?
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February 19, 2016

For years manufacturers around the world have taken advantage of the efficiency and speed of robotic labor. But these mechanical monstrosities aren’t polite or funny like the droids in a Star Wars movie. Instead, industrial robots are big, clunky pieces of equipment that have no regard for humans. As a result, most factories have separate rooms for robots that people are prohibited from entering. Many countries have even passed laws requiring the separation of automated and human labor. After all, Continue reading

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December 13, 2014

 

In past posts, we’ve taken a look at the rise of mobile ads and how they were starting to beat out older forms of media for marketing dollars. Despite this growing dominance, however, the overall effectiveness of mobile ads remains suspect. For many they’re little more than a nuisance, something along the margins of the screen that can be easily ignored. Others see them as an intrusion on their privacy given the way that many mobile ads target certain Continue reading

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August 1, 2014

Recent technological advancements in automation could soon make many human workers obsolete, according to this rather bleak video. Due to the length and potentially overwhelming nature of this piece, we recommend showing just the first five minutes.

 

 

 

Questions:

  1. What has been the true value of mechanical advancements for society?
  1. What is the key message sent forth in this video?

From CGP Grey

 

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April 30, 2014

In our increasingly connected world, people are constantly generating new data about themselves. While social networks collect a record of one’s feelings, sensors that measure sleep patterns and Wi-Fi-enabled scales can keep track of vital statistics. To tech experts, all this seemingly vain information may actually lead to the next great innovation: predictive computing. Soon enough our gadgets will know us so well that they won’t just store our to-do lists, they might actually write the lists themselves.

Many smartphone Continue reading

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