June 23, 2017      

Recent advances in AI and algorithms will be bringing more of the technologies to the investment and marketing worlds, while industrial robot maker Kuka is seeking to move into the home robotics market. Meanwhile new European drone policy continues their global leadership in the field.

Robotics Business Review has partnered with me to bring you this roundup of recent robotics developments. From AI to consumer robotics, Wall Street to drones, the robotics world continues to move forward. Are you ready to be updated?

Enable me, know me, be me

During CES Asia 2017, Huawei unveiled its vision for artificial intelligence in three statements: enable me, know me, be me. This sounds more like a marketing play but it is in fact a powerful look into what Huawei wants AI to do. Huawei doesn’t just want AI to support its users in different tasks, like adding an address and location of a restaurant mentioned in a text message. It wants its AI to start learning about the world, autonomously, even when the user isn’t using their phone. And while this brings to mind an array of new possibilities, it also leads to an even bigger need to have proper cyber security and data laws in place.

If this AI is hacked, or if it isn’t storing information in countries it is operating in (or transferring information back to China), then Huawei’s AI could end up being a new, complex challenge for governments around the world.

KUKA enters the home; China follows

KUKA is moving beyond the factory and into the home. In an interview with Financial Times, the CEO of KUKA shared that the company is looking to produce robots for the home, in partnership with Midea, its parent company. What these home robots would do remains unknown, but the decision to move in this direction should be viewed as another sign of impending job-losses due to automation.

Kuka, alongside ABB, FANUC and , make up the largest industrial robot firms in the world. And a push by them into a new sector means that advanced technologies and huge resources will be deployed. Should Kuka launch a robot for healthcare, or a robot for lawn mowing or a robot for home maintenance, it could see jobs, such as the seasonal “cutting grass” gigs, disappear.

Equally important, and equally unknown, is whether this decision is influenced by Beijing to grow China’s robotics sector globally. And if so, will people be okay with having a Chinese robot in their homes, even if it is manufactured in Germany?

Wall Street vs. algorithms

For decades, Wall Street has generated the picture of sleek cars, expensive suits, and high-rise offices. Going forward, geeks and coders developing algorithms might more accurately represent investment banking.

According to a new Bloomberg article, algorithms are challenging human “money managers” in generating rewards for their clients. Humans are now being told to move beyond what is commonly traded and start looking for “obscure assets” — — like funding infrastructure projects in Mexico.

This profound change in investment banking, whereby robots are outsmarting humans, reflects just how out-skilled majority of the global workforce is. While traders have the luxury to look for new trading and investment opportunities, a plumber or teacher will have a tough time looking for “obscure assets” to generate revenue from.

Only time will tell whether the trend taking place in investment capitals of the world will be a wake up call for people and governments to begin training their workforce to compete with robots””.

Europe wants to become a drone hub

Drones are taking off throughout Europe. The recent Grenfell Tower Blaze in London saw firefighters use drones to tackle the flames, while in France, the state-owned rail company SNFC wants to have “drone trains” in service by 2019.

To guide drones, the European Union (EU) is moving forward with proposals first unveiled in November, 2016, to regulate drones. They plan to have these laws active by 2019. The main objective

is to create a new airspace called “U-space” which will be a separate airspace network to monitor drones, enable geofencing, and more. This U-space will also mean that there will be unified regulations across EU states for drones.

This move means that Europe is once again leading global robotics by implementing laws and regulations to govern robot activity. But, indirectly, Europe is doing something else. By implementing drone regulations, it is creating a blueprint for regulating robots that other countries in Asia, Africa or the Middle East might adopt. And that means what the EU does regarding robots could become standard around the world.

More on Global Robotics:

AI adoption surging

The adoption rate of artificial intelligence is surging. One study predicts that by 2022, close to 900,000 businesses will have adopted AI, compared to 7,000 today. A separate study estimates that within the next 24 months, 53% of marketers plan to integrate AI into their operations.

Alongside these two studies are projections from Salesforce, which say that by 2022, customer relationship management (CRM) software, backed by AI, will result in $1.1 trillion of increased revenue, 800,000 new jobs and 2 million new, indirect jobs.

All of this sheds light on how rapidly AI is overtaking other robotics technologies to become the dominant driving force. But, even with these projections and studies, we need to be careful in jumping on the bandwagon.

First, is “AI” just a buzzword this year, the way big data was in the past? Second, will more business adoption of AI result in increased productivity period, or increased productivity and increased job loss? Lastly, whose AI will companies be using, and from which countries?

Lack of answers to these questions require organizations to move slowly when it comes to AI. But the trade off of moving slowly is that you will be last to the party. Is that a risk you are willing to take?