We have some disheartening news for those who fear one day losing their job to a hunk of metal.
On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that Andy Rubin, the boss behind Google's Android operating system, is manning the company's next "moonshot" effort: A division building and experimenting with robots. The project is similar to Google's initiatives to develop computerized glasses and driverless cars, but with one notable difference: The robots won't be sold to regular folks, but to businesses looking to streamline manufacturing.
"The company’s expected targets are in manufacturing — like electronics assembly, which is now largely manual — and competing with companies like Amazon in retailing," writes John Markoff, citing people familiar with the project. Google isn't saying much about what it's got planned.
Google's decision to disclose its robotics program comes on the heels of Amazon's announcement that it's developing drones that can deliver packages.
The one-upmanship is unsurprising. Tech companies like Google and Amazon need to convince the public and their shareholders that they are on the cutting edge of innovation.
But both initiatives promise one thing the companies probably don't wish to emphasize: These hot, new technologies will probably replace jobs done now by blue-collar delivery personnel and factory workers.
While invention often displaces workers to the overall benefit of society -- few miss the horse-and-buggy days that drove carriage drivers out of business -- the coming wave of robotics stands to put a lot of people out of work.
An Oxford University study from last year predicted that 45 percent of U.S. jobs were "at high risk" of being lost to computerized machines. Some of the fields most most vulnerable, according to the researchers, including transportation and production.
In other words, just the jobs Google and Amazon are targeting.
Earlier on HuffPost:
Google Glasses: A New Way To Hurt Yourself
It didn't take very long for Tom Scott to upload <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/05/google-glasses-parody-project-glass_n_1406274.html" target="_hplink">this hilarious spoof</a> of Google's "Project Glass" video -- he literally posted his video on the same day Google posted theirs. In a short 20 seconds, he shows all that could go wrong with a futuristic tech device like this one.
Windows Project Glass: One Day Too...
What if Google's glasses <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/09/project-glass-parody-smashes-windows_n_1412340.html" target="_hplink">ran Windows</a>? It's likely the problems (and pop-ups) would be endless, as shown in this parody <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ZwModZmOzDs" target="_hplink">by Vlakkeland</a>.
Google Glasses Warfare [Project Glass: One Day Parody]
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=rM4KF0SAm0I" target="_hplink">Binx Films</a> goes gamer on Google's "Project Glass" video, showing how the device would work in the middle of a Call of Duty-like mission.
Project Ass: Google Goggles (The Parody)
The wearer of Google's glasses in this <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-KmFSmkDyr8" target="_hplink">Grad Life production</a> definitely makes the video hilarious with how he puts them to use.
Project Dangerous Glasses
With this video, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Ma8NbpCvSwo" target="_hplink">Happy Toaster</a> shows how not-so-great Google's high-tech glasses might be, especially playing up how it may point out the way-too-obvious and even accidentally cause a death.
Google Project Glass - Cheating Wife Parody
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=5vrxfiXU5lo" target="_hplink">LessFilms' funny video</a> points out yet another pitfall (or perhaps plus?) of having Google glasses: You can find out if your loved one is cheating whether you like it or not.
ADmented Reality - Google Glasses Remixed With Google Ads
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/05/is-this-what-google-glasses-video_n_1406993.html" target="_hplink">Jonathan McIntosh</a> tells it to the world straight <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_mRF0rBXIeg" target="_hplink">with his Google glass spoof</a>. In the same way that Google pages are riddled with ads, he suggests that Google's glasses might be filled with ads, too -- but they'll be a lot more distracting.
Google Glasses: FIRST HANDS ON!
Unfortunately, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=RC8p8olw2oU" target="_hplink">Studio Hoofnail's short parody</a> of Google's video ends quite tragically -- but not before poking fun at its potential shortcomings.
Google's Project Glass
Even <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/06/jimmy-kimmel-google-project-glass-video_n_1407927.html" target="_hplink">Jimmy Kimmel had his fun</a> with Google's "Project Glass" video. The clip he shows may <em>look</em> like the original, but keep on watching to discover the funny bit he added on.
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Google unveils a preview of its futuristic Web-based digital glasses that puts the company's Web services, literally, in your face.