“Uh-Oh” Robots are about to take over our jobs! + a Puzzle

Scare piece 1,994 (this week), entitled, “The Rise of the robots: Is this Time Different?”.  Actually, it’s a good article and answers the question with a definite, “maybe”.  Always a good answer when forecasting the future. (redundant? Anyone forecast the past? just historians increasing their narrative’s punch.)

The problem here is that a., the future is unknown, and b., it’s easy to see how a new technology will eliminate some existing jobs.  So, because of the “unknown” part, it’s hard to see what new jobs will emerge.  What if they don’t arrive soon enough or are too technical for existing folks.?

Even though I am not a certified futurist, I humbly submit that the demand for “smarts” will exceed the demand for “muscles” (i.e, physical labor)  Maybe someday machines will produce all of our necessities and we will just do “mental” things, like selling, financing, insuring, inventing, creating, etc.  But, who knows?  My Crystal Ball is still in the shop, but its last message was, “Ride the horse in direction it’s going!”

I recently talked with the head of the robotics education at Northwestern University and asked him, “What should kids learn to prepare for a robotics career?”  His answer was something like,” Oh, what you’d expect. Math, electronics, computer science, etc., but the most important thing is to be able to think logically.”

Two books come to mind.  “Thinking as a Science”, by Hazlett and “How to Solve it”, by Polya.  Both have been around for years. They detail a systematic approach to analyzing and solving problems.

It’s important to develop a systematic approach.  If a computer is involved, then add “precise” to “systematic”.  As I said before, if you are not a programmer, the the amount of precision required will be mind boggling.

A little off subject, but I just saw this cute “thinking” puzzle.  Joe and Sam race 100 meters and Joe wins by exactly 10 meters.  (Both are idealized runners — they get up to speed instantaneously and run at a constant rate for as long as it takes.)

After the race, Sam, who lost, says, “lets race again, but you start 10 meters back.”  Joe agrees and they race.  Who wins?

Can you figure it out without algebra?  Hint:  Where will they both be when Sam has run 90 of the 100 meters?

How about solving it with some algebra?  I’ll show you (at least one way to do it) in my next post. (follows below)





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