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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


on their faces in order to steal their motorbikes.


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


The cyborgs are coming, the eyeborgs are watching,


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


This is Adam Jensen, star of the video game


Set in 2027, the poor chap has to undergo extensive


cybernetic modifications after being severely injured.


Well, just ten years before those events might occur,


that plot line doesn't seem that far off.


For years now people have been body hacking,


giving themselves extra abilities and, as our understanding


of robotics has advanced, so has our creativity.


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


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


Inside a prosthetic eye, which is an odd shape,


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


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


transmitter all attached to a circuit board so they can


The camera is turned on and off with a magnet.


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


The first consideration that looks the most uncomfortable,


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


It does visual dropouts, which is the visual language


of all video from the future, including Princess Leia


Since the initial prototype, Rob and his engineers have gone


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The mission of this lab is probably one of the most


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


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


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


So we work on everything from creating new motors and designs


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


these biomechatronic devices with the human body through novel


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


complications after a broken leg left him needing an amputation.


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


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


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


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


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


that to the person feel much more like real walking


than they would get from a passive prothesis.


For amputees like Ryan such innovations are life-changing.


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


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


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


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


Not all of the research here is about solving disability,


this exoskeleton project is about augmenting humans.


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


It improves your ability to walk by 25%.


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


it would only feel to you that you walked 75.


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


I would expect to see rolling out commercially in the


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


US retail chain, Lowes, is experimenting with kitting


out its staff with exoskeletons, designed in Virginia,


which could give their employees more stamina at work.


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


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


where people might actually want these kind of prosthetics instead


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


between biological systems and synthetic systems


But what might be some of the drawbacks of having these


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


silly walking, but this is artificial intelligence attempting


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


environments, but it could help robots learn how to navigate


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


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


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


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


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


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


search using that image. Pinterest is a place


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


for a couple of years now, allowing you to focus


in on a particular object Through a combination of image


recognition and the data points attached to that image,


including the hundreds of thousands of boards it may


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


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


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


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


and something is emerging. Right, those are definitely


shoes, but they don't Black shoe with blue


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


to visual search. The first is computer vision,


which is a way of translating the information coming


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


set and the data set So with Pinterest Lens,


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


the computer inside the phone translates that image into text


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


against 100 billion pins on Pinterest to find the ones that


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


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


and some of the results make sense, which is sort


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


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


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


a lemon polenta cake. We've now got some


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


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


to recognise and understand. Pinterest Lens is also powering


Vision, the image search function in Samsung's Bixby


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


a new initiative called Google Lens. Google Lens is also


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


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


whilst you're talking Also working in this space


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


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


and receiving a response that should tell you where you can


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


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


on Instagram or your phone, eventually allowing you to narrow


down results based on price The bot uses artificial


intelligence, machine learning and what it calls 'content based


image recognition' to search As well as shopping for individual


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


so easy is of course amazing for retailers,


but also if you're So if someone passes


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


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


the results were sometimes surprisingly accurate, and other


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


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


and the more reliable Well, that explains


the weird birthday present Now, earlier we looked


at human beings attempts to become more robotic,


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


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


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


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


in robotics, just picking up all those weirdly shaped everyday


objects is still an enormous challenge, requiring a robot


to recognise a given object and to decide how


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


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


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


by its masters. When something new comes along,


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


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


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


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


easily traverse difficult environments, such


as disaster areas. As we know, even walking


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


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


who are asking whether even feelings might one day be part


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


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


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


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


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


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


they need to understand the similar sort of experience and perhaps


develop something like Pain is not just about us


saying ouch, there's an emotional element to this


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


programming some kind of emotions We don't really understand


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


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


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


of that as well? There are those robots that


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


and the walking robots, we actually feel quite sorry


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


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


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


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


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


how we behave towards Is that where you're looking


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


seven million in this Australian Now robots can build houses


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


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


ETH in Switzerland is working on much more ambitious structures


like this undulating wall which has Now an increasingly robotic


workforce raises a number of issues and along with the worry


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


there is another one. Fewer workers earning a wage,


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


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


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


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


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


in San Francisco there are no waiting staff


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


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


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


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


products maybe quicker But it's one of the questions


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


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


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


to the latest addition to the autonomous family,


self-driving cars. Policy makers have noticed, every


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


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


the Great Depression we could have predicted


what would come afterwards, if government could have prepared


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


looking at potentially over the next ten years,


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


wiped out vary widely from study to study,


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


will replace 37% jobs in the United States


by the early 2030s. So the biggest concern


is mass job displacement, lack of true, meaningful,


high wage work. We are already seeing a decrease


of that in San Francisco where we have the fastest growing


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


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


middle-class and we have this growing imminent threat that


many of our meaningful, working-class and even


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


been replaced by a robot. An Americano with milk,


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


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


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


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


because what robots are supposed That means it allows a shift


in labour from doing highly repetitive, low productivity tasks


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


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


hardware and manufacturing to build Jobs like this require training


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


or you're an in home support services worker,


working with a senior or individual with disability,


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


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


truly living wage This would mean a robot tax


potentially subsidising low paying, but essential jobs,


so that the human employees Currently, many people are working


but not earning enough to live, leading several politicians around


the world to float the idea This would be expensive


for governments and Supervisor Kim is suggesting an automation tax


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


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


on technology and innovation, but as harder and harder questions


are asked about automation and what this really means


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


to the leaving train. Concerns about automation replacing


human jobs has been felt sense the Industrial Revolution and more


recently workers in the manufacturing industry


have seen jobs disappear As the issue of a robot tax


begins to spread further, a fundamental question still needs


to be answered - In the context of robots of course


automation is much broader They gave this definition


more than 100 years ago. Politicians can no longer


ignore the robots creeping into the workplace and while many


of the big questions are still being thrashed out,


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


and more of a political one. Yeah, really interesting


issues, aren't they? That was Cat Hawkins


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


@BBC Click throughout the week and like us


on Facebook, too. Thanks for watching


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


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


of cloud around at times, threatening some rain,


particularly on Saturday. And throughout Saturday,


the air gets warmer and more muggy.


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