“China has begun replacing the workers in its ammunition factories with robots… The move will reduce the number of accidents suffered by human workers, and has already increased the production of ammunition in the country.”
Safer, Thanks to Robots
China is one country leading the charge when it comes to embracing robotics and artificial intelligence. Last year, the country saw the first robot dentist successfully operate on a patient, and there are plans to build an unmanned, AI-powered police station in a capital city. Both developments show signs of China’s progress to becoming a global leader in AI by 2030.
To be a leader in AI, however, also means using such technology in the workforce as a replacement for human workers. Recently, China has done so in using automation to increase its supply of bombs and artillery shells.
Speaking with the South China Morning Post (SCMP), Xu Zhigang, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Shenyang Institute of Automation, said that nearly 25 percent of China’s ammunition factories have had their human workers replaced with “smart machines.” Interestingly enough, China didn’t turn to AI simply because it wants to lead AI adoption. It was instead because the factories were lacking in people who actually wanted to work in such dangerous environments.
“However high the salary offered, young people are simply not interested in working in an army ammunition plant nowadays,” said Xu. No one can really fault them for being wary of the job, though. According to SCMP, citing “research papers published in Chinese academic journals,” a significant number of accidents have occurred in recent years, with some leading to injured workers or even death.
So great were safety concerns that the 20-30 factories constructed over the last 60 years are in remote locations, or areas with much lower populations.
“One spark could lead to a huge explosion and reduce the plant to a crater,” said Xu. “The risk of fire was our biggest challenge. It hung over my head like a sword.”
“The robots can free workers from risky, repetitive jobs in the bomb-making process,” Professor Huang Dexian, from Tsinghua University’s department of automation, told SCMP. “It will create new jobs such as control optimization, hardware maintenance and technical upgrades. It will give us a stronger, healthier, happier defense workforce.”
Despite the AI’s improvements to safety, it’s fair to have concerns about their inclusion in the ammunition making process. Though Xu noted that China’s was not in a situation where it was “gearing up for a war and filling its armouries at breakneck speed,” the country’s new production abilities could spur other countries to produce weaponry at a greater pace, or encourage them to speed up development on their own AI projects out of fear of being outmatched. Russia, for example, is reportedly building an AI-controlled missile, and has plans to add autonomy to its land and aerial vehicles. The U.S., meanwhile, wants to use AI to boost its intelligence gathering capabilities, and successfully tested an autonomous F-16 last April.
It’s true that automation can improve productivity and have positive impacts on society, but experts caution that we should also be wary about how far we take automation without proper plans. This is something Jon Wolfsthal, a non-resident fellow at Harvard University’s Managing the Atom project, suggested society be cautious of, saying, “the possible advantages … are endless, but so too are the risks.”
Improved Productivity and Efficiency
Even before the accidents were a factor, however, workers were exposed to harmful chemicals while assembling ammunition, requiring them to wear masks and gloves. Needless to say, it’s not the most inviting job, and one that’s likely better suited for automation.
Since introducing automation to the factories, the AI — equipped with “man-made ‘hands and eyes’ — have been almost 5 times more productive than human workers and can assemble various ammunition including artillery shells, guided bombs, and rockets with the kind of efficiency and perfection some human workers struggle with. They also don’t get tired, which is a plus for any industry looking to implement robotics. With productivity somewhat limited by the supply of raw materials, Xu said that the productivity boost would probably fall between 100 to 200 percent “at a minimum.”
Soros Newest Investor Of Tesla Bonds
Tesla looks to have a new bond holder and it’s none other than George Soros. Whatever this mean, Soros has also taken a stake in Crypto-Currencies .
Zerohedge Reports: Amid Elon Musk’s darkest hour in late March – as his stocks and bonds tumbled in price – it seems there was at least one other billionaire willing to buy the ‘blood on the street’.
According to the latest 13Fs, George Soros’ investment firm took a $35 million stake in Tesla’s convertible bonds during the first three months of the year.
As a reminder, convertibles are hybrid securities, either bonds or preferred stock, that can be exchanged for a predetermined number of common shares. That effectively lets an investor participate in stock-price changes, but with the yield and greater security of a fixed-income instrument.
The March 2019 Converts bounced handsomely off those lows – tracking the stock’s divergent bounce – but in recent days has fallen back towards the lows, catching down to the straight bonds record low price.
“Racial Bias Education Day” To Close Down Starbucks Nationwide
Starbucks is going to the illogical extreme by taking an entire day to put their employees through what they call “Racial Bias Education Day”. Coming after a viral videos showed two men being arrested in a Starbucks in Philadelphia. Starbucks almost instantly gave into calls to do ‘something’ but will this really fix anything in a culture where ‘racism’ is more of a political talking point than an actual substantive conversation or debate.
CNBC Reports: Starbucks said Tuesday it will be closing all of its company-owned restaurants in the U.S. during the afternoon of May 29 to conduct a racial-bias education program.
“I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it,” Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks, said in a statement Tuesday. “While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution. Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities.”
Soros Now Investing In Crypto-Currencies
After a historic drop in cryptocurrency prices in the first quarter, one which deflated much of the euphoria that surrounded the sector in late 2017 and the start of this year, the space is about to get exciting again because none other than 87-year-old billionaire George Soros is reportedly preparing to trade cryptocurrencies as prices plunge.
According to Bloomberg, Adam Fisher -who oversees macro investing at New York-based Soros Fund Management – has received internal approval to trade virtual coins in the last few months, “though he has yet to make a wager.”
The question, of course, is whether Bloomberg’s leak is accurate, and if indeed Soros is only now getting started in the space or if he has quietly loaded up already.
What is ironic, is that just three months ago when speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Soros said digital coins cannot function as actual currencies because of their volatility, “but he didn’t predict the hard tumble that some observers had forecast at the time.”
“As long as you have dictatorships on the rise you will have a different ending, because the rulers in those countries will turn to Bitcoin to build a nest egg abroad,” Soros, 87, said on Jan. 25.
With Bitcoin tumbling below $7000 recently…