According to a recent report by the United Nations, nearly one-third of all jobs in first-world countries will be lost to automation over the next 15 years.
Even if the report fall short in its predictions, there is little doubt that millions, maybe billions, of people will be affected by automation. Workers in a wide range of industries are already in the crosshairs.
So, what are the ethical and policy impacts of automation and unemployment?
The introduction of new automation changes the entire business model and can affect all aspects of enterprise operations. Craig Salvalaggio, VP of Applied Manufacturing Technologies notes that companies can reduce the friction of new technology deployment by using collaborative approaches that can produce an abundance of opportunities for the existing workforce.
He notes that the solution involves a number of strategies, including, gaining buy-in from the company’s workforce, making the new technology familiar, repositioning the workforce infrastructure, and creating retraining programs.
The Toyota-Panasonic battery partnership announced last week is a clear sign that the giant Japanese automaker is joining the ranks of other mainstream manufacturers who are moving gradually toward battery-electric vehicles.
The announcement calls for the formation of a new battery company, 51%-owned by Toyota Motor Corp. and 49%-owned by Panasonic Corp. The new company would build prismatic cells for use in hybrids (HEVs), plug-in- hybrids (PHEVs) and battery-electric vehicles (BEVs).
Industry analysts said that the partnership is a sign that Toyota is moving toward pure electrification in a bigger way.
“With market forces pushing them in that direction in Europe and China, and to a lesser extent, in the US, they know they have to get more volume in zero-emission vehicles,” noted Sam Abuelsamid, senior analyst for Navigant Research.
“So, yes, they’re definitely making a bigger push into plug-in vehicles in the next few years.”
NASA scientists were startled when a recent exploratory mission revealed a huge and rapidly-growing cavity on the underside of one of Antarctica’s glaciers—signaling that the ice mass has been melting much faster than experts realized.
The cavity is two-thirds the size of Manhattan—large enough to have contained about 14 billion tons of ice before it melted, according to a report that was published in Science Advances on Thursday.
Much of that ice disappeared at an “explosive rate,” scientists reported—likely melting only in the last three years.
In the last year, we’ve seen a surge in cybercrime, plaguing organizations of every shape and size. However, 2018 also presented a relatively new trend of hackers increasingly targeting critical infrastructure operations, jeopardizing our national security more than ever before. Unfortunately, this has forced businesses to learn the hard way that they need to better arm themselves with security policies and plans to keep pace with evolving malicious actors.
Often, organizations find that it’s only after an incident occurs that they can appropriately prepare for another.
When a malicious activity occurs, every minute counts, and the last thing an organization can afford is to waste time laying out processes and procedures.
Having a well-designed plan for threat response allows organizations to respond to incidents as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Manufacturing is in the midst of yet another revolution.
Once defined by data silos which prevent valuable information from being shared, manufacturing is moving toward increased connectivity—and Industry 4.0 is a significant reason why.
New innovations made possible by Industry 4.0 are paving the way for more centralized, consistent data. Instead of wondering when a piece of equipment might break down, manufacturers have the luxury of leveraging technology like smart sensors to address potential issues before they arise.
The result? Minimal downtime, greater efficiency and a streamlined production process moving forward.
While those benefits can provide a big boost to your business, Industry 4.0 does have its downside.
Higher costs tied to new components, smart technology and infrastructure modifications have the potential to keep Industry 4.0 out of reach.
A way around such an obstacle is modular automation.
Researchers have taken the next step in developing soft mesh robots that can contract, reshape and grab small objects and carry water droplets while floating on water.
A North Carolina State University research team has found a way to 3D print soft, intelligent actuators that can be programmed to reshape and reconfigure under a magnetic field, which could prove useful in a number of applications, including soft robotics and biomedical devices.
To make this new material, the researchers first developed a new silicone microbead ink that is bound by liquid silicone and contained in water to form a homocomposite thixotropic paste that resembles toothpaste.
It can be easily squeezed out of a tube, but maintains its shape without dripping.
There has been a lot of buzz lately around graphene—a 2D material made from a single layer of carbon atoms tightly bound in a hexagonal honeycomb lattice.
It’s the thinnest substance ever made, with extremely interesting properties. It conducts electricity faster at room temperature than any other known material and it can convert light of any wavelength into a current. It is light, flexible and extremely strong.
Since graphene was first isolated over a decade ago, researchers have been investigating it for a variety of innovative purposes.
Over the last month, R&D Magazine took a closer look at different graphene applications as part of our “Special Focus” series.