September 2011

When Robots Take Over: Automation And The Death Of The American Economy

The Lights In The Tunnel, a new book by Martin Ford, foresees a future in which the American labor force whithers from automated technology.

It's hard to believe that the check-out register cashier will be a viable job posting much longer, particularly as self-checkout lines get longer and self-checkouts get more numerous. Technology is simply replacing the necessity of a human cashier. This is the case with many industries around the country; where software, mechanized tools, and even robots are gradually replacing positions once held by human beings. This is the impetus behind Martin Ford's controversial new book, The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation. Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future. Ford's concern is that as software and robots edge humans out of their jobs, mass market buying power and consumer confidence will erode to the point that the entire global economy may collapse.

Car Talk: Car-to-Car Communication Precursor to Self-Driving Automobiles

University of Michigan tackles car-to-car tech that could open doors to dramatically improved efficiency and safety.

It's absolutely true that any technology that must be operated manually could eventually be automated. Once of the most pivotal technologies that humans still operate all over the world? Automobiles. We've all seen the popular science fiction films (I, Robot and Gattaca, for instance) where automated cars were the rule, not the exception; cruising along at peak efficiency with little more needed from its human occupants than to get inside. The technology today doesn't even approach that kind of large-scale automation, but there are existing technologies that allow automobiles to communicate with one another, increasing the potential for greater efficiency and safety. Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, researchers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor will be running an unprecedented test of that technology.