Why This Site & What’s It All About

First: I believe that the whole robotics field will evolve at an ever increasing pace for the foreseeable future.  (Think “cell phones” —  a few bulky handhelds in1973.  Now, more cell phones than people. Really? one for each ear?  The experts say about 4 Billion world-wide — and counting!).

Why?  Lots of reasons:

There are many tasks that are entirely procedural.  Humans are error-prone, get tired, etc. and, in general, hate that kind of thing.  Even if complicated, a machine (e.g., robot) can be programmed to do it.  See Tesla, for an example.  Big-time capital costs to get started, but on-going costs are much lower than hiring folks, and the robots can be more precise and accurate.

Tasks that are dangerous, e.g., mining, bomb disposal, nuclear plant maintenance.

The government push to raise the minimum wage, and wage demands in general.  Big-time incentives to build robots to do those tasks.

Second: Our education systems are woefully inadequate to deal with the technical needs of this “revolution”.  The public school offerings are superficial, and  focused on “fun” and “entertainment”.  The STEM regulations/ are, well, unbelievably complex.  (see http://www.isbe.net/career/pdf/imsp/imsp-istem-area-ptnshp-rfp-fy15.pdf — and this is just Illinois)  Now, if you believe that government will take care of things and respond to the rapid changes that will come, then “all will be OK”. Not I! Bureaucracy and innovation seldom go well together.

Also, many of the teachers are “education majors” (OK, too strong, some do have math and science degrees). Few have ever actually worked in the relevant technology market place.

Third:  I asked a few roboticists (say that 5 times quickly!) and asked them what kids need to learn.  Answers are what you might expect; math, programming, engineering, etc., basic stuff — but the main thing was, “clear, precise logical thinking”.  If you don’t have that ingrained, you are toast.

For programming, knowing one or two of the basic mainstream languages (C family, Java, Python) is enough. Speciality languages abound, but they are easy to pick up, if you know any of the general ones.

Finally:  I want to make folks aware of the situation, realizing that no one really knows how it will all play out. AND to provide a carefully designed set of on-line courses to teach kids (even adults) what’s needed.

So, stay tuned.


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