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Eye'll Be Back

Should robots pay tax or would that hurt their feelings? Click meets the robots of the future and the human eyeborg. Includes tech news.


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on five people on Thursday night in which acid was sprayed

:00:00.:00:00.

on their faces in order to steal their motorbikes.

:00:00.:00:00.

Now on BBC News, it's time for Click.

:00:00.:00:07.

The cyborgs are coming, the eyeborgs are watching,

:00:08.:00:15.

the bar staff are serving, and Lara photographs a banana!

:00:16.:00:47.

This is Adam Jensen, star of the video game

:00:48.:00:49.

Set in 2027, the poor chap has to undergo extensive

:00:50.:01:01.

cybernetic modifications after being severely injured.

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Well, just ten years before those events might occur,

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that plot line doesn't seem that far off.

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For years now people have been body hacking,

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giving themselves extra abilities and, as our understanding

:01:23.:01:24.

of robotics has advanced, so has our creativity.

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Meet Rob Spence, like the cyborg in the video game,

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It doesn't have Terminator vision like this, yet,

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Inside a prosthetic eye, which is an odd shape,

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they're not a sphere, a prosthetic eye, they're actually

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Inside that is a battery, a video camera and a video

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transmitter all attached to a circuit board so they can

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The camera is turned on and off with a magnet.

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It doesn't look at all comfortable, is it in anyway comfortable?

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The first consideration that looks the most uncomfortable,

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it looks like a 90s iMac, you can see all the goods inside.

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Like the battery and the wires, but that's covered by smooth

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I don't have open wires and batteries, you know.

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That kind of made my stomach drop a little bit when I saw that.

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Rob damaged his eye when he was nine and in 2009 began exploring

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As a film-maker himself, he was fascinated with the idea

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It's like an absurd toy for a one-eyed film-maker.

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I used to watch the Bionic Man when I was a kid, The $6 Million Man.

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I had the action figure, you looked through the back of his head,

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I was looking at my Nokia flip phone at the time I was like -

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That's in fact who I called, I called Nokia.

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They said - well, we'll call the camera module people in China.

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It's very small, it's very challenging.

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It does visual dropouts, which is the visual language

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of all video from the future, including Princess Leia

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Since the initial prototype, Rob and his engineers have gone

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He now has one eye that glows red when it films and another camera eye

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I get calls from and emails from mom's whose kid has just lost

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an eye because it's some sort of fun thing to show a kid this maniac

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running around on videos and glowing red eye cameras and stuff.

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They're now looking working on ways to transfer the technology to other

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We're doing 3D scans of those now and then that creates a space that

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you can take into software to map on the technology that we're

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Some people golf, I like to make fake eye cameras and, you know,

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Right, that's the eye upgraded - now let's do the rest of the body.

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MIT's media lab is home to some of the most innovative tech

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research in the world, but there's one room here I find

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The mission of this lab is probably one of the most

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important goals of our time, they're trying to essentially

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They want to make it so that if you lose a limb,

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it won't have any impact on your quality of life and they're

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So we work on everything from creating new motors and designs

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for ankles and knees and artificial joints, all the way to marrying

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these biomechatronic devices with the human body through novel

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Evidence of this work can be seen with people like Ryan Cannon,

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complications after a broken leg left him needing an amputation.

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What's special about his new robotic leg is that it's doing something

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the human body can do instinctively, but it's extremely

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The motor is able to work in such a way that simulates a real

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It uses on board sensors to interfere whether the leg is,

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for example, in the air or on the ground and perform actions

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that to the person feel much more like real walking

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than they would get from a passive prothesis.

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For amputees like Ryan such innovations are life-changing.

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I can move in a more rhythmic, symmetrical way and being able

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to move in that manner allows me to walk at a faster pace

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for a longer distance and to do more activities during the day.

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This is not relying just on straight physics and mechanical design,

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Not all of the research here is about solving disability,

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this exoskeleton project is about augmenting humans.

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It allows the body to use much less energy when running or walking.

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It improves your ability to walk by 25%.

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So what that means is, if you were to walk 100 miles,

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it would only feel to you that you walked 75.

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We're able to do that today, right and those are devices that

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I would expect to see rolling out commercially in the

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We're already beginning to see this kind of technology deployed

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US retail chain, Lowes, is experimenting with kitting

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out its staff with exoskeletons, designed in Virginia,

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which could give their employees more stamina at work.

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With this in mind, the lab at MIT is now looking

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to the next huge question - how close are we to the point

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where people might actually want these kind of prosthetics instead

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I definitely think that we are entering an age in which the line

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between biological systems and synthetic systems

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But what might be some of the drawbacks of having these

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As there's widespread uptake, that they might only be available

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to people who have the financial ability to pay for them.

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Welcome to the week in Tech. This week saw some interesting activity

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on Facebook, and saw Wiz Khalifa take over as the most watched

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YouTube video. It has been viewed a staggering 2.9 million times. Elon

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Musk launched a new vehicle, it is supposed to be more affordable than

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the previous efforts, which cost $200,000. Faraday future have

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scrapped plans to build a plant in Nevada, which leaves questions about

:08:54.:08:59.

their new vehicle. And this is not a digital version of the Ministry of

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silly walking, but this is artificial intelligence attempting

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to learn how to walk. So far, research is being led in virtual

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environments, but it could help robots learn how to navigate

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unfamiliar spaces. And, finally, a former scientist built a super

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Psycho which can fire a jet of water at over 200 mph. At least you'll see

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it coming -- super-soaker. It says - fashion, style,

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outfit, that's you. Sometimes it's not that easy to put

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into words what you want to search for online, and that's why companies

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are working on ways of us being able to take a simple picture and then

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search using that image. Pinterest is a place

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all about images and ideas, they've had a form of visual search

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for a couple of years now, allowing you to focus

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in on a particular object Through a combination of image

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recognition and the data points attached to that image,

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including the hundreds of thousands of boards it may

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have been pinned to, This January, they upped their game,

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though, launching Pinterest Lens, a way of being able to search

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through a photo with no other data And from that search term,

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it aims to come up with similar There we go, we've got a picture

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and something is emerging. Right, those are definitely

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shoes, but they don't Black shoe with blue

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laces, some men's shoes. So there are two parts

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to visual search. The first is computer vision,

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which is a way of translating the information coming

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in through the camera into words. The second is the data

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set and the data set So with Pinterest Lens,

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when you point your camera at something in the real world,

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the computer inside the phone translates that image into text

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and then it takes the text and it takes the image and runs a search

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against 100 billion pins on Pinterest to find the ones that

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seem the most relevant. OK, it knows it's a lemon,

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that's definitely a good start. OK, I think you scroll through it

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and some of the results make sense, which is sort

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of like when you search with words because often you search then

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and a lot of the things don't make And having come up with those words,

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I've got a series of recipes So we've got a lemon drizzle cake,

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a lemon polenta cake. We've now got some

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artwork of lemons. It's a lot better than it did

:11:57.:11:57.

on my boots and this's probably because this is a very simple image

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to recognise and understand. Pinterest Lens is also powering

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Vision, the image search function in Samsung's Bixby

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which is currently only available And so today we're announcing

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a new initiative called Google Lens. Google Lens is also

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due for release soon. The company says it'll be a new way

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of the computer being able to see and even act on its surroundings

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whilst you're talking Also working in this space

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is a chat bot called Glamix, which is a way of photographing any

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item that you like, sending it to them via Facebook messenger

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and receiving a response that should tell you where you can

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buy a similar item. So let's give this a go

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on my boots to start with. It works with pictures found

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on Instagram or your phone, eventually allowing you to narrow

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down results based on price The bot uses artificial

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intelligence, machine learning and what it calls 'content based

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image recognition' to search As well as shopping for individual

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items, it aims to be able to help Making clicking through to items

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so easy is of course amazing for retailers,

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but also if you're So if someone passes

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you by and they're wearing something you really like,

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you need to be quick. Having spent a while testing both,

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the results were sometimes surprisingly accurate, and other

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times, kind of questionable. But it is early days and the more

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this sort of technology is used, the more data it collects

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and the more reliable Well, that explains

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the weird birthday present Now, earlier we looked

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at human beings attempts to become more robotic,

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but there's a whole lot of research that's attempting

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to make robots more human. It's not actually taking place

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at a robot art school like this, but it's nice to think it might

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be, isn't it? There is a long way to go

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in robotics, just picking up all those weirdly shaped everyday

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objects is still an enormous challenge, requiring a robot

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to recognise a given object and to decide how

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exactly to pick it up. But a team at Berkeley says that

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Dex-Net here is the most effective When not playing with Lego,

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it's being taught and building up a huge database of 3D objects

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by its masters. When something new comes along,

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it uses its 3D sensor to compare it to this list,

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it then uses its neural network to figure out the best way to grasp

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it and it is said to get it right The springy legs of this creature

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were 3D painted at UC San Diego, they're designed to be able to more

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easily traverse difficult environments, such

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as disaster areas. As we know, even walking

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on flat surfaces is still Well, I say ouch, but of course

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these things don't feel pain. That said, there are those of us

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who are asking whether even feelings might one day be part

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of a robot's mind. At the simplest level it makes

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sense, robots are pretty expensive, you don't want them to run

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willy-nilly into fire and acid But at a more complex level,

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we're looking ahead to a time when robots might interact with us

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on a more personal level as companion robots for the elderly,

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for those who are sick or are in pain and perhaps maybe

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they need to understand the similar sort of experience and perhaps

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develop something like Pain is not just about us

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saying ouch, there's an emotional element to this

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as well, isn't there? So are we actually talking about

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programming some kind of emotions We don't really understand

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what emotions are in human beings. Like you say, you might assume

:15:57.:16:05.

there's some sort of phenomenon that So hypothetically if we developed

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systems that worked like pain, might emotion develop off the back

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of that as well? There are those robots that

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do look so life-like, the Boston Dynamics' Big Dog

:16:17.:16:18.

and the walking robots, we actually feel quite sorry

:16:19.:16:21.

for them when they fall over or even When those videos were released

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online the reaction was like - oh no, you're bullying them,

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don't hurt them. They don't at this stage have

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that technology at all. There's no suggestion they do feel

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pain, but the human reaction So is that going to inform

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how we behave towards Is that where you're looking

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at applying our sympathies? I mean, I think science fiction

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model of a human-like entity There may be more kind

:16:46.:16:48.

of cute models we've seen already of robots that,

:16:49.:16:53.

sort of, pull on our heart strings in a more child-like way and there's

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those that suggest that we shouldn't have anything that looks human-like

:16:57.:16:59.

at all because it's disingenuous, it's cheating and it's tricking us

:17:00.:17:02.

into treating them like they're The doctor thinks that appearing

:17:03.:17:05.

to feel pain may make us treat Of course what many people

:17:06.:17:11.

are worried about is how much respect the robots will have for us

:17:12.:17:18.

and, most of all, our jobs. Last week Caterpillar invested

:17:19.:17:22.

seven million in this Australian Now robots can build houses

:17:23.:17:26.

at the rate of 1,000 bricks an hour. Ambition in the area

:17:27.:17:34.

is huge and for the first time out of the lab,

:17:35.:17:36.

ETH in Switzerland is working on much more ambitious structures

:17:37.:17:39.

like this undulating wall which has Now an increasingly robotic

:17:40.:17:42.

workforce raises a number of issues and along with the worry

:17:43.:17:52.

of what jobs will actually be left to us in the future,

:17:53.:17:55.

there is another one. Fewer workers earning a wage,

:17:56.:17:58.

means fewer workers paying income tax on their earnings and that means

:17:59.:18:02.

less money going into the economy. Now some tech brains,

:18:03.:18:09.

including that of Bill Gates, are calling for a robot tax

:18:10.:18:12.

to counter that and Cat Hawkins went Almost everyone in the world

:18:13.:18:15.

who works pays tax on the money they earn, but at this restaurant

:18:16.:18:24.

in San Francisco there are no waiting staff

:18:25.:18:27.

and robots plate the food. That work is currently not taxable

:18:28.:18:32.

and politician Jane Kim is now looking into how this is changing

:18:33.:18:35.

the city's economy. So what we're seeing

:18:36.:18:40.

is after automation that you can hire less people in order to deliver

:18:41.:18:43.

products maybe quicker But it's one of the questions

:18:44.:18:46.

that we have, it's true this is really convenient,

:18:47.:18:52.

but at what cost? It's not just restaurants, this

:18:53.:18:54.

picture is now seen across the city, from hotels and hospitals

:18:55.:18:59.

to the latest addition to the autonomous family,

:19:00.:19:01.

self-driving cars. Policy makers have noticed, every

:19:02.:19:05.

time a robot take as human job, The research is showing us that jobs

:19:06.:19:08.

are going to get lost over the next ten years and if before

:19:09.:19:16.

the Great Depression we could have predicted

:19:17.:19:18.

what would come afterwards, if government could have prepared

:19:19.:19:21.

for the job loss that occurred, That is the level at which we are

:19:22.:19:23.

looking at potentially over the next ten years,

:19:24.:19:28.

in terms of job loss Estimations of how many jobs will be

:19:29.:19:31.

wiped out vary widely from study to study,

:19:32.:19:37.

but a recent report especially has It's estimated that robots

:19:38.:19:42.

will replace 37% jobs in the United States

:19:43.:19:46.

by the early 2030s. So the biggest concern

:19:47.:19:49.

is mass job displacement, lack of true, meaningful,

:19:50.:19:52.

high wage work. We are already seeing a decrease

:19:53.:19:55.

of that in San Francisco where we have the fastest growing

:19:56.:19:59.

income gap in the country and a wealth gap that is akin

:20:00.:20:01.

to the country of Rwanda, and so we have a shrinking

:20:02.:20:08.

middle-class and we have this growing imminent threat that

:20:09.:20:12.

many of our meaningful, working-class and even

:20:13.:20:16.

middle-class jobs may go away At Cafe X, again a human worker has

:20:17.:20:19.

been replaced by a robot. An Americano with milk,

:20:20.:20:25.

served by a robot. Now, the human has a different role,

:20:26.:20:29.

advising on coffee beans and showing customers how to use the tablet

:20:30.:20:33.

to operate the robot. The owner is not sure about the idea

:20:34.:20:37.

of a tax on the replacement. I guess I find it a little odd

:20:38.:20:41.

because what robots are supposed That means it allows a shift

:20:42.:20:44.

in labour from doing highly repetitive, low productivity tasks

:20:45.:20:51.

to more useful things. So in order to have this machine

:20:52.:20:57.

operate, there has to be a lot of engineers on software,

:20:58.:21:06.

hardware and manufacturing to build Jobs like this require training

:21:07.:21:09.

and that's what Supervisor Kim wants If you're a childcare worker

:21:10.:21:12.

or you're an in home support services worker,

:21:13.:21:17.

working with a senior or individual with disability,

:21:18.:21:20.

you often work three or four hours So one of the ideas was,

:21:21.:21:23.

why not tax robots and invest in these poverty jobs and make them

:21:24.:21:30.

truly living wage This would mean a robot tax

:21:31.:21:33.

potentially subsidising low paying, but essential jobs,

:21:34.:21:38.

so that the human employees Currently, many people are working

:21:39.:21:41.

but not earning enough to live, leading several politicians around

:21:42.:21:46.

the world to float the idea This would be expensive

:21:47.:21:49.

for governments and Supervisor Kim is suggesting an automation tax

:21:50.:21:55.

could be a solution. If there's one thing that

:21:56.:21:59.

San Francisco is known for, it's leading the conversation

:22:00.:22:01.

on technology and innovation, but as harder and harder questions

:22:02.:22:06.

are asked about automation and what this really means

:22:07.:22:09.

for people's jobs it seems appropriate that this city,

:22:10.:22:12.

which has added so much to the problem, is also grappling

:22:13.:22:14.

with what could be the solution. But the rise of robotic workers

:22:15.:22:21.

is playing out on a global scale and San Francisco is not the only

:22:22.:22:25.

place trying to lead In the EU, a proposal to tax robot

:22:26.:22:28.

was voted down earlier in the year and one of the Commissioners who did

:22:29.:22:36.

so says robots will create more They are worried because they say

:22:37.:22:40.

robots they will take their jobs, Progress always created more jobs

:22:41.:22:44.

than progress used to destroy. The train is moving and speed

:22:45.:22:50.

is high and now it's up to us to be on that train or to stay and to wave

:22:51.:22:55.

to the leaving train. Concerns about automation replacing

:22:56.:23:05.

human jobs has been felt sense the Industrial Revolution and more

:23:06.:23:08.

recently workers in the manufacturing industry

:23:09.:23:11.

have seen jobs disappear As the issue of a robot tax

:23:12.:23:13.

begins to spread further, a fundamental question still needs

:23:14.:23:20.

to be answered - In the context of robots of course

:23:21.:23:22.

automation is much broader They gave this definition

:23:23.:23:29.

more than 100 years ago. Politicians can no longer

:23:30.:23:36.

ignore the robots creeping into the workplace and while many

:23:37.:23:38.

of the big questions are still being thrashed out,

:23:39.:23:41.

it's clear that the issue of robot workers is becoming more

:23:42.:23:44.

and more of a political one. Yeah, really interesting

:23:45.:23:53.

issues, aren't they? That was Cat Hawkins

:23:54.:23:57.

and this's it for this week. You can follow us on Twitter

:23:58.:24:00.

@BBC Click throughout the week and like us

:24:01.:24:02.

on Facebook, too. Thanks for watching

:24:03.:24:05.

and we will see you soon. Some decent, dry, and also for some

:24:06.:24:33.

sunny weather around this weekend. But there will be a lot

:24:34.:24:37.

of cloud around at times, threatening some rain,

:24:38.:24:40.

particularly on Saturday. And throughout Saturday,

:24:41.:24:42.

the air gets warmer and more muggy.

:24:43.:24:45.