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Amazon’s Humanoid Robots: A Step Forward or a Step Back?



In a world where automation is increasingly becoming the norm, Amazon, the e-commerce behemoth, is making headlines yet again. This time, it’s not about drone deliveries or one-day shipping but about humanoid robots in its U.S. warehouses. According to a BBC News article, Amazon is testing a new robot named Digit, designed to work “collaboratively” with human staff. The company claims the move aims to “free up” employees for more complex tasks, but critics argue it’s a slippery slope to job losses.

The Robot Named Digit

Digit is no ordinary warehouse robot. Unlike its wheeled counterparts, Digit walks on two legs and has arms capable of grasping and handling items much like a human would. Scott Dresser of Amazon Robotics told the BBC that the robot’s design allows it to navigate steps and stairs, providing a level of mobility that wheeled robots can’t offer.

The Promise and the Peril

Amazon’s foray into humanoid robots is a double-edged sword. On one hand, Tye Brady, Amazon Robotics’ chief technologist, insists that people are “irreplaceable” and that fully automated warehouses are not in the cards. On the other hand, Stuart Richards, an organizer at the UK trade union GMB, warns that Amazon’s automation efforts have already led to job losses.

The Numbers Speak

  • Amazon currently employs more than 750,000 robots.
  • The company claims to have created “hundreds of thousands of new jobs” due to its robotics systems.
  • Amazon has introduced 700 categories of new job types that didn’t exist within the company before.

The Bigger Picture

Amazon is not alone in its automation endeavors. Companies like Tesla and Google have also invested heavily in robotics and automation. According to a report by McKinsey & Company, up to 30% of the hours worked globally could be automated by 2030. However, the report also suggests that new jobs will likely be created to offset those lost to automation.

The Ethical Quandary

The introduction of humanoid robots in the workplace raises ethical questions. For instance, should companies be obligated to retrain workers who lose jobs to robots? A study by MIT Technology Review suggests that automation tends to disproportionately affect low-wage workers, exacerbating income inequality.

The Road Ahead

As Amazon continues to experiment with Digit and other robotic technologies, the debate over automation’s impact on the workforce is far from over. While robots like Digit may take over “highly repetitive tasks,” the human element—creativity, problem-solving, and emotional intelligence—remains irreplaceable, at least for now.

In conclusion, Amazon’s humanoid robots represent a fascinating intersection of technology and labor. Whether they will serve as a boon or a bane to the human workforce remains to be seen. What is clear is that as automation becomes more sophisticated, the conversation around its ethical and economic implications will only intensify.


Codegen Secures New Funding: A Leap Towards AI-Driven Software Development




In a significant advancement in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) and software development, Codegen, a pioneering company in the automation of software engineering tasks, has successfully secured new capital in a recent funding round. This breakthrough underscores the burgeoning trend of integrating AI into the software development lifecycle, promising a transformative impact on the industry.

Codegen’s innovative platform, which leverages the power of AI agents to automate various aspects of software engineering, is poised to revolutionize how code is written, tested, and deployed. By automating the “menial labor” of software development, Codegen’s AI-driven platform is not only enhancing efficiency but also enabling software engineers to focus on more creative and complex problem-solving aspects of their work. This approach aligns well with the current industry focus on devops and agile methodologies, which prioritize rapid development cycles and continuous improvement.

The infusion of new funds into Codegen signals a strong market confidence in AI’s role in software development. This investment trend is reflective of a broader movement within the technology sector, where companies are increasingly turning to AI to streamline processes and drive innovation. According to a report by PwC, AI could contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030, with productivity and personalization improvements being the key drivers of this growth.

The potential benefits of AI in software development are manifold. For one, AI can significantly reduce the time spent on routine coding tasks. Codegen’s platform, for example, connects to existing codebases and project management tools, like Jira and Linear, to automate repetitive tasks. This integration is crucial in a landscape where software development tools are becoming more interconnected and cloud-based.

Moreover, AI can enhance the quality of software by detecting and fixing errors more efficiently than human developers. AI algorithms are capable of analyzing vast amounts of code at a pace no human could match, identifying patterns and anomalies that might indicate bugs or security vulnerabilities. Tools like GitHub’s Copilot, which uses AI to suggest code and snippets, are already making waves in the industry, demonstrating how AI can assist in code creation.

However, this technological leap is not without its challenges. One significant concern is the impact on employment within the software engineering sector. While AI is poised to take over more routine tasks, the need for skilled developers remains critical, especially for complex problem-solving and creative aspects of software design. In fact, as the IEEE Spectrum highlights, the demand for skilled software engineers is growing, not diminishing, in the face of AI advancements.

Additionally, the ethical implications of AI in software development cannot be ignored. Issues surrounding bias, accountability, and transparency in AI-driven systems are at the forefront of ongoing discussions in the tech community. Organizations like Partnership on AI are actively working to address these concerns by promoting responsible practices in AI development and deployment.

As Codegen moves forward with its AI-driven platform, the software development industry stands at a pivotal juncture. The integration of AI into software engineering holds immense promise for increasing efficiency, improving quality, and fostering innovation. However, navigating the accompanying challenges will require a concerted effort from all stakeholders, including developers, business leaders, and policymakers.

In conclusion, Codegen’s recent funding success is more than just a financial milestone; it represents a significant step forward in the journey towards a more automated, AI-driven future in software development. As this technology continues to evolve, it will undoubtedly reshape the landscape of software engineering, offering both exciting opportunities and critical challenges to be addressed.

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The Best Devices for a Smart home – and what to do with them




Smart homes are here to stay. Right now, you can decide whether you want to turn your lights on manually or with your voice. Already, household electronics are being designed for Internet of Things so that one day soon, your home appliances and fittings will automatically adjust themselves to fit in with your lifestyle.

These devices will collect information, analyze the information, and respond to this information. This will make your home a smart home.

The promise of smart homes is an easier life as well as more efficient use of scarce resources like water and energy.

Defining Smart Homes

When the gadgets in your home are connected wirelessly, they operate in smart ways. The lights might come on when you walk into your home. Your entire home may even be able to secure itself at night without you doing anything – doors locking, curtains closing, thermostat dialing down, and lights going off. The whole routine goes on without you lifting a finger.

‘SMART’ stands for Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology, which means that a smart home is not just automated – it actively gathers information and amends its behavior accordingly. All these are possible features of an automated home. Pre-determined triggers prompt the home to do things. For example, lights can go off at a certain hour, or in response to a verbal instruction. Thermostats can dial up or down depending on the temperature.  Soon, smart homes will feature cutting-edge artificial intelligence.

All the home automation options available rely on programming to connect all your devices into a truly smart home. Programs are designed to respond to voice commands, the location of the home owner, and other triggers.

Smart Devices for a Smart Home

Smart Lighting

Smart lighting is a good place to start if you want to achieve a smart home. Besides energy savings and convenience, smart lighting instantly makes your home cool. Smart bulbs can adjust intensity, oscillate between warm and white, even change color. Smart switches connect all the lights so that they are easy to control.

Smart Locks

Smart locks add convenience and let in visitors securely. They save you from the hassle of carrying keys – or hiding them under a rug.  A fingerprint, code, or phone is enough to let you in. They can also trigger other features like light or shut everything down upon departure.

Smart Heating

With a little help from your phone, the locks, or presence sensors, your thermostat can know whether you are home and turn itself down or up. This saves energy. The thermostat can also adjust to more heat from the sun.

Smart Security

You may not have CCTV, but a smart home allows you to keep watch using cheap wifi enabled cameras that are motion activated. They are simple enough for anyone to install and use.

Burglars are more likely to avoid a home under surveillance because they provide evidence. They help you watch your pets, elders, or teenagers home.

The video doorbell is a special device that functions like voicemail on your door. Visitors who turn up in your absence can record a video message for you.

With a smart security system, you can monitor your home from anywhere using your smartphone.

Smart Entertainment

Smart TVs are already present in most homes. Smart speakers are also super cheap and serve such a variety of uses as to be indispensible.

They can play a specific song on demand even enable your TV to receive voice commands.

You can connect your speaker to Alexa, Google, or Siri and it will take instructions like read the news or set a timer in the kitchen.

Why you should think about a Smart Home

There are three major reasons why people invest in smart homes. Smart homes offer efficiency, security, and convenience.


The interconnectedness of devices in a smart home makes it possible to manage your home more effortlessly. You can create a morning routine that involves setting off your alarm, getting the coffee maker started, turning on the lights, tuning into your preferred radio show, and starting off the shower.


With cameras and an internet connected smart home, you can always monitor the goings on while you are away. Someone showing up at your front door, any movement in the home, doors opening, can all trigger smart sensors to alert you. Smart locks can even tell you who it was that came in through the door, making it possible to keep tabs on your kids.

Energy Efficiency

The smart thermostat drastically reduces energy consumption. But every aspect of the smart home contributes to energy efficiency. You can remotely manage your energy intensive domestic gadgets using a smart phone. You can ensure that rooms are only warmed and lit when they are being used. Smart plugs monitor home energy consumption and allow you to discern opportunities for cutting costs.


How the Smart Home Works

Smart devices are easy to install and use because they depend on wireless connections. You will not have to lay down untidy cable wires across your home. They run on Z-Wave, Bluetooth, Zigbee, Wi-Fi, or Thread protocol most of the time. These wireless radio protocols make it possible for your electronic devices to communicate with each other and with the Cloud.

In a smart home, devices may communicate with each other through a hub within the home and only use the Cloud to store data and process commands. This data includes video footage, photographs, etc. This data is relayed to the Cloud over Wi-Fi.

Most devices need to be controlled and set up via an app installed on a tablet/smart phone. The app enables smart home users to interact with their devices at home. They can schedule things or hook up to their smart home network to automate your home and put in place routines.

Choosing a Smart Home Ecosystem

You can buy smart gadgets like video doorbells that can do their job autonomously but a smart home is a lot more than just a single gadget. Your gadgets have to coordinate with each other to create routines, automate functions, and generally adjust to your lifestyle.

You can achieve this with a Smart Home Ecosystem which connects to all your home devices and allows them to be programmed, manipulated, and coordinated to create routines.

There are now four leading smart home ecosystems in the market: Homekit from Apple, Home from Google, Alexa from Amazon, and SmartThings from Samsung. They are all easy to install and set up. You do not need to hire someone else to install them, unless you want to.

You are already on the right track if you have a digital assistant combined with an ecosystem like Apple’s Homekit. To start setting up a smart home, you have to first have a clear picture of your priorities. Elements like lighting, temperature, security, and entertainment all need to be modified to fit in with your lifestyle as it is. Your lifestyle and preferences should inform your Smart Home design.

Start by looking for devices that enable you to control the elements you need to control, like heating. Once you have the device, you now need to put in an ecosystem to support the devices. Anything else will come as an add-on.

Most devices are capable of functioning within multiple ecosystems. You will not have to spend too much money on hardware. And apps are free on the Playstore or Applestore. You can switch from one ecosystem to another or even use them simultaneously. They are not designed to be mutually exclusive.

HomeKit from Apple

Pros and Cons of HomeKit from Apple:

HomeKit is simple and reliable, as well a secure solution for people who care about their privacy. The HomeKit processes all your data locally and encrypts it before uploading it to the Cloud. This ensures the privacy of your personal information.

Apple’s HomeKit is ideal for Apple users because it works with iPhones, Macs, iPads, and Apple Watches. Siri provides voice control. The HomeKit runs on Thread, WiFi, and Bluetooth.

The downside of working with HomeKit is that it is only compatible with iPhones and iPads, not Android devices. Users will need to deploy the HomePod Mini, Apple TV or other Apple Hub. This drives up the cost of the Apple HomeKit.

Pros and Cons of Alexa from Amazon:

Alexa is named for the voice assistant called Alexa. Alexa is affordable and offers the widest range of compatibility with the devices in your home. This range has been enhanced by the addition of Zigbee radio to Alexa’s Echo speaker (it already has Bluetooth and Wifi). This means that it works well with everything from light bulbs to motion sensors.

Alexa makes it easier to create a voice-control enabled smart home system because so many affordable smart speakers, thermostats, displays, and light switches come with it already inbuilt.

Even though it is compatible with more devices than HomeKit, there are some devices that do not necessarily work properly with Alexa. Do not purchase any electronic device before first testing how it works with Alexa. One more downside to Alexa is that it is harder to access using a smartphone compared to the other smart home solutions.

Pros and Cons of Google Home from Google:

The app for controlling this smart home system is also aptly called Google Home and you can use your smart phone to run it. Google Home’s answer to Alexa is the Google Assistant and it enables a voice controlled home. You can operate the Google Assistant from anywhere because it is in your smart watch or Android phone.

Google offers two smart displays: Nest Hub Max and Nest Hub with a touchscreen for a control panel. You do not need your voice to adjust your thermostat, lights, speakers, and locks.

The range of home devices that work with Google is growing fast, but still relatively small.  Google Home does not offer users the option of using sensors to trigger routines. It only has voice command, phones, and automated schedules. Plus, Google Home only has Thread, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. It does not support Z-Wave or Zigbee.

Pros and Cons of SmartThings from Samsung:

SmartThings is one of the premier smart home solutions and is compatible with more smart home gadgets than the others. This includes most Samsung appliances, of course. SmartThings is capable of controlling Wi-Fi as well as Zigbee and Z-Wave devices.

This is an advantage because Z-Wave can work with smaller devices using less power. And it responds faster because it communicates to its hub and not the Cloud.

SmartThings can work with Alexa as well as Bixby voice assistant from Samsung. You can use both.

The downside is that SmartThings is the most complex system, especially when paired with Zigbee and Z-Wave devices. This is the downside of working with such a powerful and multifaceted system.

Building your own Smart Home System

What if you want a Smart Home but do not want to give tech companies access to your home? You could consider creating your own smart home. Use open-source software for your home assistant and Raspberry Pi.

This approach calls for the type of people who enjoy the challenge of building computers. It is rewarding and allows you to customize it and protect your private information.

Adding Voice Control to your Smart Home

All smart home systems can be voice-controlled. You should not have to get up from your couch to turn off the light (or adjust the temperature) after installing a smart home.

A smart speaker will give you the best voice control. Each of these systems has compatible speakers which have radio for wireless protocols. These speakers do more than just add voice control.

Smartphones, smart watches, tablets, and smart speakers have digital assistants. Only Siri from Apple works from a desktop computer.

Voice control works when you equip each room with a speaker which will automatically know which room it is placed in.

Putting it all Together

After installing your smart home gadgets, you want to create routines and scenes and automate functions. Thankfully, the ecosystems we have discussed are nearly similar.

You start by picking a trigger which will prompt the automated functions.  The trigger could be your location, the time, or an event – like a door being opened.

You then decide on when or the ‘conditions’ under which these functions will happen. It could be daily or on weekends, or when you are away. You could put in place one condition or multiple conditions.

You can now decide what happens next. For example when someone opens a door, a camera comes on or the thermostat is adjusted. Multiple actions can happen at once. They are called a Scene.

To trigger a scene, you may use the app or voice command. For example, a ‘movie’ scene will turn up heat, dim lights, and start Netflix.

Here are some routines you can start with: Goodbye, Good Morning, Welcome home, and Goodnight. These are all fully customizable.

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The key to smarter robot collaborators may be more simplicity




Maybe if self-driving cars did not have to process all the details of every move they made, they might be able to more around more nimbly.

When we are driving on the road, our brains are processing so much information sub consciously. We are scanning the surrounding vehicles, anticipating their next move, and contemplating how we might respond. We even wonder how our moves might influence other drivers to act.

Robots have to do the same things that we do to operate in our world. Researchers have come up with new ways of enabling robots to better model our behavior. The researchers from Virginia Tech and Stanford University will be presenting their innovation to the annual International Conference on Robot Learning which takes place next week.

They plan to make robots more efficient by designing them to only analyze the major moves of other drivers on the road instead of analyzing each detail. This will enable them to predict their next actions faster and to respond swiftly.

A Theory of Mind

Robot makers are usually guided from Psychology’s theory of mind which posits that people are guided by their understanding of other people’s beliefs in their effort to empathize with and interact with them.

According to the Theory of Mind, young children master this skill and use it throughout their lives.

If robots can come up with a system for predicting the next moves of other actors, they can operate more efficiently on the road.

According to Stanford Professor Dorsa Sadigh, when two people are doing something simple like moving a table, they go by simple things like their discernment of the force from collaborators as they push or pull to make their next move.

A robot store could use this to remember basic descriptions of the actions of the agents surrounding. For example a robot playing a team sport could take note of the movements of its opponents and classify them as right, center, and left.

This data is enough to come up with two algorithms: one for predicting an opponent’s next move, and another for determining its own response.

The second algorithm will also track the opponent’s responses to the robot’s own responses, in order to allow the robot to learn how to influence its opponents.

The key feature of this innovation is that the robot handles minimal data and is therefore able to train itself as it goes along.

Usually, a robot in such a situation would remember not only the exact coordinates of every one of its opponent’s steps but also the direction in which they were moving.

This might seem like an approach that will yield greater accuracy, but that is not how the human mind operates. The human mind goes by simple clues and does not process too much information on the fly.

Future Uses

There are still a lot of questions that will only be answered in the long run. At the moment for example, researchers are working with the assumption that robots only interact in finite interactions.

Researchers assumed that robot cars involved in simulating self-driving were only experiencing single interactions with other cars in every training session. But that is not how driving works.

Cars interact with each other continuously and a self-driving car needs to keep learning and adapting its actions with every interaction.

Sadigh explains that the approach assumes that robot designers know how best to describe the behavior of other actors on the road. They thought of using ‘left’ ‘center’ and ‘right’ to describe the actions of opponents in an air hockey game.

These labels will become much less obvious when the interactions are not as simple. Researchers are still optimistic about their innovation being a game changer. By bridging the gap that separates human-AI interaction and multi-agent learning, scientist never stop learning because it is an important new field of research.

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