The Robots are Coming for your Job
2023 version: Did we get it all wrong, robots arriving before AGI? Amazon adoption progress update.
This is a special Saturday edition of A.I. Supremacy, but something came up that just couldn’t wait. Metaphors like “robots coming for our jobs” surround the fear of automation. Many of my readers don’t see it happening.
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After the exposition byon General Purpose Robotics startups, I had some private conversations with my readers who were saying that humanoid robots won’t become useful soon.
While I might have agreed a few years ago, recent advances have changed things somewhat I believe, and I really wanted to explain how Amazon is testing humanoid robots out.
Large language models might also give robots new ways of learning, Eureka bridges the gap between high-level reasoning (coding) and low-level motor control.
Eureka, an open-ended agent that designs reward functions for robot dexterity at super-human level
Eureka, is a human-level reward design algorithm powered by LLMs. Eureka exploits the remarkable zero-shot generation, code-writing, and in-context improvement capabilities of state-of-the-art LLMs, such as GPT-4, to perform evolutionary optimization over reward code.
See Eureka on Github.
On a benchmark suite of 29 tasks across 10 robots, Eureka rewards outperform expert human-written ones on 83% of the tasks by 52% improvement margin on average.
Is pen spinning really a big deal?
The Robots are Coming
I can fully understand that most don’t believe human-shaped robots with dexterous hands will be staffing warehouses and retail stores, tending to the elderly and performing household chores within a decade or so like the startups are claiming, but we do know that big players like Walmart and Amazon are very interested in robots performing tasks and some of those will automate jobs previously done by humans.
Why would Amazon not acquire the company behind the robot Digit? Oregon-based start-up Agility Robotics with backing from Amazon has come a long ways in a short time. Amazon already invested a significant amount of capital.
Digit can walk forwards, backwards, and sideways, as well as crouch, and stands 5ft 9in (175cm) tall. It can carry up to 35lb (16kg).
How Quickly did Robots Accelerate at Amazon?
Amazon’s infatuation with robots isn’t exactly new:
10 years ago, robots were practically non-existent in their global warehouse and distribution network.
But take look at this acceleration…
2013: 1,000 robots
Clearly in the 2030s Amazon will be working with millions or robots.
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