Designed in China: Part Three Click


Designed in China: Part Three

Click meets the robotic monks of Longquan Temple and takes a look at how technology could be used for surveillance and censorship in China.


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played tributes on war graves. Lots more as always on our website, and

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Ben Bland will be here at the top of the hour.

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This week we are back in China with robots promoted to waiters and

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monks. Our journey through China has taken

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us across this vast country. From badminton smashes

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to smashing bridges. It's a fascinating place,

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hungry for success. But there's one subject

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you can't avoid here. People can't do what they want,

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say what they want, The government controls the media

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here and it tries is hardest to lock And if you go online here,

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you hit a massive obstruction. It is a filter that blocks access

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to sites, apps and search terms considered contrary to Chinese

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values, and that includes Facebook and Twitter,

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and all Google services, including Gmail and

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even the home page. Hong Kong publisher,

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Bal Pu knows more about Chinese Son of ex-high-ranking Chinese

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official, now dissident, Bal Tong, he's released a whole host of books

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that take a critical look at the politics

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of the Chinese state. The books are banned

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in mainland China. The Great Firewall, in its essence,

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is the Great Firewall of the mind. The firewall will last as long

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as the regime lasts, as long as the impulses of control

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for the Government last and work. If it doesn't work in the short run,

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it works in the long run. Because it blocks certain

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information, and for people who are actually not knowing

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this information ever As a foreigner, you might

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not actually notice We've been out and about, roaming

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on our smartphones, and I've been getting all of my Gmails,

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tweets and all my Facebook updates. But if you log your device

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onto a local Wi-Fi service, that's when you start to see

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the Internet as the Chinese do. Updates don't load,

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websites become unavailable. It turns out that though,

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not to be a huge problem. We've been accessing

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services through a VPN, How it works is that they give

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you access to a server somewhere else in the world,

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somewhere outside China So, I've got a phone

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here which is logged on to Chinese Wi-Fi, and as you can

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see, things just aren't However, things are starting to get

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a little more dark. Chinese citizens are being

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encouraged to report on each other online, looking for inappropriate

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content like politically Private messaging is being monitored

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and your digital footprint, what you do online and who you talk

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to, could start to automatically affect you getting a job

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or getting access to credit. Dan Simmons reports

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from the city of Shanghai. Just as big Chinese cities start

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to look more like Western ones, each day, so like in the West,

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the Chinese equivalents of Facebook and eBay are getting

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to know their users even better. Wandering round this metropolis,

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it's easy to feel very at home. But it's also really easy to forget

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that you could be being watched. Wii Chat has become a sort

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of WhatsApp and Facebook But while WhatsApp messages

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are encrypted to stop snooping, it's a very different story on Wii

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Chat. You know, day-to-day message,

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and we do video calls, Actually, we do everything,

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including payment. I mean, everybody knows

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we're being watched, If this were a student protest,

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it would only take about less than one day for the Government

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to find out and then it I sort of understand

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that the Government is trying to block some things to maintain

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the so-called harmony, or social stability,

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but I feel that it's our right to know what's happening out there,

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and it's our right to have our own judgment on stuff

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that is a threat to us. Certain accounts that

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post too many things that the Government doesn't approve

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of will be blocked forever. Being watched is one thing,

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but Shangue says that, increasingly, One of my roommates, actually,

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is a part of the team, so he received a message

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from his leader saying that you should do this

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and you should do that, So, you have university students

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spying on other university students? And reporting them

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to the Government? Yes.

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That's correct. Wii Chat's move into being

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a purchasing platform, as well as a social one,

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means they have each user's buying And that mixing of the social

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and financial is a cause The pressure group Privacy

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International says that it's worried about a new development in China

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called Sesame Credit. How would you feel if

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the information you were sharing on social media, all communications

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you are having with your partner impacted the chances of you getting

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credit, and essentially the chances of you getting a nicer house,

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and nicer car, having your kids go Would you be willing,

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or would you even be able to change behaviour and comply

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with such a system? Sesame Credit was created last year,

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not by the big banks, but by China's shopping equivalent to eBay,

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Alibaba and ANDE financial services. This online video suggests

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that your social accounts and who you are friends

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with could affect your access to credit, mortgages

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and even some jobs. Under this game, each

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user is given a score, a number that, if high enough,

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could be used for preferential treatment at Marriot hotels

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and Hertz cars, amongst others. And in the future, it's likely to be

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recognised much more widely. So, I find out, ooh!

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I got a high score. So, I'm proud of that

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and show my friends, There is so many incentives built

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into this system from a psychological level,

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from a competitive level, The reason that it is self-policing

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is because there are so much Maybe go to make more friends,

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make more good-quality friends. The idea that people

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pick their friends, or change their on-line

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behaviour in pursuit of a high score is challenged

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by Sesame Credit's creators. They told us that they currently

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have no intention of tracking any non-consumption activities

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of our users. And there's no evidence

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to the contrary, but This government document states

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China's intentions of having credit scores partly based on news media,

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that blacklists should be widely publicised with an overall aim

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to categorise credit scores. So some feel proud, and lower

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scorers learn to change I'm off to see a seasoned

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international journalist He believes it's just a matter

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of time before schemes like Sesame Credit do start

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to use social media. We invited Tencents, the owners

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of Wii Chat, to talk to us about online surveillance and credit

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scores but they didn't reply to us. The Chinese credit rating system

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for individuals is very young. Social credit scores,

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as they are being called, could see the blending of financial

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and social information, be it judging our posts

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or friendship groups So, it's likely that the credit

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for introducing new rules governing people's access to money,

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and perhaps other life opportunities will go to China's biggest tech

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companies rather than its banks. And here's another quirky thing

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I haven't seen before. I keep getting these

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Chinese text messages Now, I thought they were saying

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things like, welcome to such and such, but they are actually spam

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texts offering you a massage But I wondered, how do

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they know my number? Only the mobile network should know

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that my mobile number is currently in China and they wouldn't be

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spamming me, would they? Well, it turns out that there

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is a scam going on here. People can set up fake mobile cells,

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so you can get these little black boxes that you can buy, and they

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pose as a mobile cell tower. People drive around the city

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and your phone hops onto that cell, They get your phone number

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and they send you a Authorities say it could provide

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greater clarity on potential criminal connections. Fed up with

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unloading the dishwasher? You are apparently not the only one. If only

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there was a robot dog that could help. This has been well house

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trained to deal with a dirty dishes, and its makers say that having

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stretched from hydraulics to electric, it is one of the quietest

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robots have ever built. Now just has to keep up the good work. Finally,

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if you are determined to get the last bit out of your soap and

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shampoo bottles, you are going to love this. Ohio University have

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created a bottle that allows you to empty every last drop. It involves

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lining a bottle with nano particles, creating air pockets so the soap

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never quite touches the container. Now, we're going to see how

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an interesting robot is being built But first, we asked LJ

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Rich, back in the UK, how hard it is to actually

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build one yourself. I'm building a MeArm,

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an affordable robot arm that just needs a screwdriver

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and time to put together. It's the result of a Crowdfunded

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project that made nearly So, imagine being plunged

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into a really complex version It's fun, even though

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the instructions for the new model are still a bit rough

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around the edges. And it's a great way to learn

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how servos those work But why stop at just

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one robot to play with? Why not get a job

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somewhere like here? This is the "Body in White" area,

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containing around 1,200 robot arms. It's where the metal parts

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of the car get put together At full whack, this plant can make

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up to 1000 units per day. These robots are so big and strong

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they have to work in cages. Each one costs about ?20,000,

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that's around $30,000, but there are additional software

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programming costs on top of that. These robots use laser sensors

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to align parts before fixing them and have to be accurate to half

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a width of a human hair. Robot expert and fast walker,

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Tom Bradford, has worked He's been here so long he saw

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the first robots start work here, and it's all this eye candy,

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he tells me what's next. There is a move, I'm sure,

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in the future, to make robots So, we see down here,

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a pair that are on what we They are on a track

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like a short railway line. They can move backwards

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and forwards. But I can see a time

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where they'd just be skating around on the floor,

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in two dimensions, to take short cuts between points

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and things like this. You can't train easily a robot

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to look for a fault that is It really is a problem,

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so, you have to... There's a lot of good reason why

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people are still involved They are a lot better,

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perhaps, at doing things I brought the MeArm to meet

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its biggest siblings, and showed it to Tom

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and robot trainer, Martin. Because the interface is quite

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simple, it's surprisingly difficult compared to programming those,

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because you've got so many options of speed and how you want it

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programmed and setup. You don't have this

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kind of on-off nature. But for practising and understanding

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the principles, it's We are in the rarely-filmed

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robot experimenting area, where these majestic, metallic

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machines are tested and programmed. Just like my little robot,

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these bigger machines work both Yours goes a little

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bit faster than mine! If anything,

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visiting this factory and building my own robot arm

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shows me the rise of the machines Even with machine learning

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getting more sophisticated, humans still bring autonomy

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and adaptation into the mix, And now back to China to see how one

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company is hoping to bridge the gap This factory may not be much to look

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out from the outside, but as has often been the case

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in our visit to China, Surprising technological

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treasures lurk inside. They've become rather famous

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for making robot waiters and waitresses for restaurants

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all over the country. And they also make industrial robots

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that play "Fur Elise". I have to say this seems to be

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the standard warning tune in many We are waiting for a different part

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of the market for China. Each robot costs about $7,000

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and can be made in a couple of days out of the parts

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here in the factory. The robots are programmed

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to move around on a track. Right now, the robots are most

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likely to be found in restaurants But in the future, the plan

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is for them to be able to pour This new robot uses a six direction

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hand to pour a drink, Instead, it will move using a stored

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map to find its way around. It's a bit controversial,

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but the team here believes that the robots will serve

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an important role in society, taking away jobs, they say,

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that some people don't want to do. So, how are these bots getting

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on in the real world so far? Well, we sent Click's boss,

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Simon Hancock, down to a local restaurant where one of the robots

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is employed as a waiter. I'm not sure how many jobs

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this robot will remove. It seems like you need more people

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than you would do normally. So, it may be a few years before

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humans are overtaken by robots, Well, it's nearly time for us

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to leave China, but, before we do, here's Jen Copestake with some monks

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who've built some robots, This was the last place

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we expected to find a robot The Longquan Temple

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was built at the foot north-west of Beijing,

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a thousand years ago and the site Underneath this bridge is said

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to live a Golden dragon, and in this ancient ginkgo

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is rumoured to be an old man with a white beard,

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who is a God of the tree. Buddhism is an ancient tradition

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that forms the spiritual practice And the monks here are hoping to use

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technology to promote their beliefs to many more,

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through an extremely cute robot. Xian'er's name actually means

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'Stupid, virtuous one.' But he's Through the touch screen held

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on his tummy, he can answer simple voice commands and answer up to 100

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questions about Buddhism. He's happy to have a conversation

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about various deep topics... The master has just asked

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the robot monk where And he says, even human beings

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cannot answer this question. The robot monk has got

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some sensitive parts. The master showed me around

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the grounds where they grow their own food, and have a high-tech

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library as well as a lower tech one. The temple is gaining a reputation

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as being a high-tech monastery. Some of the monks here have degrees

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in computer science. The main master monk

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was the first in mainland China to start an internet blog,

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and at least one monk is rumoured The robot is based on a cartoon

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the monks created in the temple and is the subject of several

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bestselling books in Asia. This studio is where volunteers

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create stop-motion animation about his life, using these dough

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figurines made from flour. We also use this editing system

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at the BBC. It might help if I pick up my

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Chinese language skills before volunteering. Concubine. Close

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enough! I was surprised to find such

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as sophisticated stop-motion studio operating at the heart of the temple

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with so many volunteers. But it was the volunteers

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that drove the creation He was designed by technology

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companies in China who donated their expertise and time to help

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promote Buddhism in a high-tech way. They are already working

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on an updated version. I wish that we could

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communicate in English. I hope you found it as fascinating

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as we have. Next week, we are on the opposite

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side of the world in Follow us on Twitter for all

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the backstage action at Click.

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