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I used to be a cashier at a major big box retail store for years before I started my IT career, and I can tell you the hatred of the self checkout is real - and in a select few, it runs deep. At the time (over 10 years ago) they were still only a few years on the scene so quite a few people legitimately had never experienced them, but there were plenty of others who had their opinions and wanted to spread them to all those who were both willing and unwilling to listen.

It's fine to hate them, but one thing I can't/couldn't forgive is the hostile attitude some of those people projected at me and my peers because they they/I happened to be scheduled to supervise the kiosks. The complaints were always the same - "I hate these," "These take away jobs," and "Where do I go to see a real person".

Eventually I gave up caring and being a "good little customer service automaton" and just started firing back at them saying things like "Oh, so I'm not a real person?", "Actually no, having these does not eliminate any jobs, in fact it creates one. If these weren't here I wouldn't have a job right now", which usually made them more frustrated, but at least it shut them up. I don't care about your hatred of the self checkout, I make $9 an hour trying to pay for hobbies and maybe even a little bit of school. Get lost. :)

In our case it was true - we always had four locations in the store with a "real cashier" available but they were too lazy to walk over to them. The self checkouts happened to be at the "main" exit of the store where the bulk of the normal lanes were. We needed to have someone supervising each exit point (deter theft, direct incoming customers etc.), so there would always be one person at each location regardless. The fact that the self checkouts were at the main exit meant that there had to be an extra person standing there to watch them, in addition to the regular manned lanes. Only during lunch breaks at off-hours (or when someone called off) were the manned lanes closed at the main exit. Even so - people would go out of their way to find us to tell us how much they hated them - even when the manned lanes were open!


I too refuse all the "smart home" gadgets. I'll flip a switch to turn on my lights. I'm also not into subscription streaming services. I told myself nearly 10 years ago that eventually, the rest of the industry would catch up with the likes of Netflix and realize there was more money in withholding the rights to their intellectual property and selling their own streaming services to distribute the content than there was in licensing it to let others provide that service. And sure enough, what has been erupting all over the web over the last few years?

No longer is it one streaming service to get you 90% of what you need. It's 3 or 4 to get you that, if not more. And prices sure aren't going down either. With the new FCC leadership striking down net neutrality, it's only a matter of time before ISPs start working out ways to charge the streaming content providers more to deliver you that bandwidth-hungry content too, and who will pay that cost? The subscribers!

It's more expensive up front to buy the Blu-ray, sure, but at least I have the peace of mind knowing it won't be pulled off the digital shelves when there's a peeing match between rights owners. Plus for the video/audiophile in me, no streaming media (despite the claims/resolution of the stream) will match the bitrate of an in-home disc (your average FHD Blu-ray is 30-35 Mb/s and a 4K HDR Blu-ray is 3-4 times that). During high demand the streaming services have a hard time keeping up with even 8-10 Mb/s delivery for an FHD title with highly compressed video and 2 channel audio. :)

Is it appropriate for some people? Sure. Is it appropriate for me? Heck no. At the end of the day, do your research and be an informed consumer.
 

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What goods and services that have already automated to one degree or another have become cheaper than when they used to be with 100% human labor(accounting for inflation of course), that can’t be attributed to manufacturing labor that went overseas? What’s more likely for a business, reduce labor costs and use the savings to reduce product cost? Or use the savings to distribute amongst themselves and shareholders, and what’s to prevent that? This is where I see the argument for UBI, as automation and AI makes more people than ever mercy to the rich and powerful, who still need us to profit on. If we cannot uplift ourselves to that level, then we should receive dividends for the profit. Sorry, but a glut of chefs and artists isn’t going to be a viable living by itself, knowing how to make a delicious hamburger will be a hobby to show to friends, like knowing how to play a 30 year old rock song on guitar.
Food is a good example where automation has reduced its price dramatically.
At least before the pandemic, food was cheaper before than it has ever been and far fewer people work in agriculture thanks to advances in technology.


Academic article on the mechanization of Africa.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
Over the years I've seen and personally have had a chance of opinion on the self check out registers. Initially I saw that they were indeed eliminating jobs. A self-check out carousel of 10 registers staffed by one individual eliminates 9 jobs. No ifs, ands or buts about it. But, damn, you can't beat the speed and convenience of taking care of your own sh!t. With a large order and a traditional cashier you've still got to load your sh!t out of the cart and onto the conveyor. So, you're still handling your stuff at least twice - once to put it in the cart and once to take it out to be rung up and possibly again to put the bags back into the cart and again into the car!

Fast forward to today. Since the pandemic broke out my family has taken to remote ordering at Walmart Grocery and Whole Foods. You shop online, put your stuff into a virtual shopping cart, and check out. With our Prime account Whole Foods pulls the order, bags the order AND delivers it to the house! You can't beat that! With Walmart, they pull the order, bag the order and when it's ready you get a text and/or email. You just pull up and they load the stuff in your car. Saving time and handling on your part. I doubt my wife will ever go back to conventional grocery shopping. LOL It saves us time and, for now, creates jobs! Those out of work cashiers are now warehouse order fillers and delivery drivers.

Going back and on a car related note, full-service gas stations have also been history for quite some time - Except in New Jersey, where since 1949 it's been ILLEGAL to pump your own gas! I guess you're still allowed to plug your own EV in there??
 

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Over the years I've seen and personally have had a chance of opinion on the self check out registers. Initially I saw that they were indeed eliminating jobs. A self-check out carousel of 10 registers staffed by one individual eliminates 9 jobs. No ifs, ands or buts about it. But, damn, you can't beat the speed and convenience of taking care of your own sh!t. With a large order and a traditional cashier you've still got to load your sh!t out of the cart and onto the conveyor. So, you're still handling your stuff at least twice - once to put it in the cart and once to take it out to be rung up and possibly again to put the bags back into the cart!

Fast forward to today. Since the pandemic broke out my family has taken to remote ordering at Walmart Grocery and Whole Foods. You shop online, put your stuff into a virtual shopping cart, and check out. With our Prime account Whole Foods pulls the order, bags the order AND delivers it to the house! You can't beat that! With Walmart, they pull the order, bag the order and when it's ready you get a text and/or email. You just pull up and they load the stuff in your car. Saving time and handling on your part. I doubt my wife will ever go back to conventional grocery shopping. LOL It saves us time and, for now, creates jobs! Those out of work cashiers are now warehouse order fillers and delivery drivers.

Going back and on a car related note, full-service gas stations have also been history for quite some time - Except in New Jersey, where since 1949 it's been ILLEGAL to pump your own gas! I guess you're still allowed to plug your own EV in there??
Yes, you are allowed to plug in your own EV, and for some reason, diesel is also self-serve. The people in NJ have always rationalized that we had people pumping the gas for us, and still had the cheapest gas around, but the gas tax in NJ has been hiked 35 cents per gallon in the last year alone, so now NJ’s gas is significantly more expensive than all the surrounding states. I had hoped that this would prompt people to abandon the self serve ban in order to bring the price of gas back down, but no such luck!
 

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Yes, you are allowed to plug in your own EV, and for some reason, diesel is also self-serve. The people in NJ have always rationalized that we had people pumping the gas for us, and still had the cheapest gas around, but the gas tax in NJ has been hiked 35 cents per gallon in the last year alone, so now NJ’s gas is significantly more expensive than all the surrounding states. I had hoped that this would prompt people to abandon the self serve ban in order to bring the price of gas back down, but no such luck!
Oregon started allowing a few counties to pump their own gas a few years back. You'd think that covid would be the perfect excuse to allow for self service because it would minimize person-to-person interaction.

For those who don't live in a high tax state:
From NJ (2020): The tax on gasoline and diesel fuel will increase on Oct. 1 from 30.9 cents to 40.2 cents for gasoline and from 34.9 cents to 44.2 cents for diesel fuel.
CA (2020): Starting July 1, California drivers will be paying 50.5 cents per gallon for the gasoline excise tax, up from 47.3 cents per gallon presently. For those who drive a diesel car, the excise tax will jump to 38.5 cents per gallon, up from the current 36 cents.
 

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Not AI specific, but I just ordered a couple Pizzas from my local Papa John's. This time however, instead of my call being routed directly to the store, I got routed to a call center where some lady placed my order.

WTF, man?! 🤨
 

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Discussion Starter #27
Did she have an Indian accent? I was on the phone one time with Hewlett Packard support and I asked the representative where she was located and she said Canada. I told her I was so much happier to speak with a Canadian than an Indian. We both laughed. She said I hear that a lot!
 
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She had an accent for sure, but it wasn't an accent from India. She may have been here in the states for all I know.
 

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She had an accent for sure, but it wasn't an accent from India. She may have been here in the states for all I know.
Probably in the Philippines or Nam.
 

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Speaking of AI have you guys seen Rosie the voice actor? She does a perfect AI voice and messes with scammers all the time. She is so funny!
Here’s a sample.
 
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Since the COVID thread started to veer towards automation and AI I thought I'd give it its own thread.

I've always loved and been fascinated by technology from the advent of cell phones to the transition from CRT TV's to LCD flat panels and now OLED TVs. The rise of digital music, from NAPSTER to Spotify, iTunes, etc. and now EV's, Starlink, SpaceX and the list goes on.

I'm interested in discussing those things with you and hearing your thoughts on it all. Much can be made of this transition, also known as the 4th industrial revolution, which we're smack dab in the middle of right now. If we pay attention and play our cards right we can prepare ourselves and our kids for a very exciting and promising future and make some money along the way!
Well, AI is nothing new....... After the "world" announced in 1982 (IIRR) that it couldn't be done, Hughes Aircraft company (actually Hughes Research Labs, Malibu, California) brought in 2 scientists to support their own (BTW, this was 1 of 3 research labs HAC had and is where many of the German V2 Scientists were brought to and the end of WW2)... any way in 1984 (a year I will never forget) they announced to the world they had created AI..... after GM bought HAC, by the end of the 80's AI software was installing upholstery (headliners, etc.) in Caddy's. HAC was the largest electronics mfg in the world.... $6B annual sales with $10B backlog.

You can read the highlights about this research lab which still exists today but called "HRL"


Some of the tech that HAC brought to us ......

Invented the laser (and when Levi Strauss was in financial trouble back in the 60's because of the cheap labor imports, Howard Hughes met directly with Mr. Strauss and advised him that they had a new tool called a "Laser" that could be modified to cut material with both speed, accuracy in bulk nad he could be competitive and literally "put the imports out of business in this country"

Invented................

Satellite TV

Telemetry tech/devices used in our cell phones

The Kidney Dialysis Machine- Note Dr. John Smeara (spelling?) was one of the Von Braun Scientists, he not only designed the original one when a group of Dr's miniaturized it, he denounced it's ability to work.... John disappeared for 2 weeks - he re-designed the entire machine, called my Dad who had worked for John for a few years and he (my dad) was reassigned to John for about 1 month- so John could explain what he had done (John refused to speak with the military nor Dr's who had screwed up his machine)

First electronically controlled all-automatic factory (ie CAD manufacturing 1958)


Cybornetics- (computer actuated limbs for disabled)

Brought Doppler radar from a USN research product to the full scope of application we have today. 1 of the 3 original USN engineers (Dr. Pat Hyland) was later employed by HAC, worked at HAC Radar Systems Group and brought the project to the forefront. He later became HAC RSG present and later became President of HAC. He was also Instrumental in the B2 Bomber radar program.

"Quiet Radar"- this allowed our aircraft (fighters) to track and lock our weapon systems on enemy aircraft without them knowing it. It also ID'd the aircraft including the specific model (ex- Boeing 747, Airbus 340, MIG-35, etc.). The weapon system that was employed could not be stopped....IE by radar jamming, radiation, infrared diversion devices, etc.... and had a range of 200 miles.

and this is just a few of the "highlights"
 

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You know, if they had those stiff straight forward 1950s sounding narrators backed by cheery music today I could be sold on just about anything. Yay automation! 🤣
Yeah! The tech hasn't changed, just the applications....... Heck, Los Angeles Ports have had fully (software) automated cargo trailers operating at the port for over a decade now..... yup - driverless semi-truck type cargo trailers..... the cranes offload the ship containers onto them and they know where to deliver the cargo (to which pier warehouse)
 

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AI is being introduced into automotive manufacturing industry. I can see lots of jobs in vehicle manufacturing being lost. Sure, some jobs will remain / be created, but the number of jobs created won't be enough to offset those lost.

 

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Self driving cars.

We must go through baby steps on getting there. Tesla is ahead if the game by leaps and bounds in the self driving car arena compared to other manufacturers.

4:38 is hilarious.

6:08 is relevant to the baby steps on technology advancements towards self driving.

...
Self-driving cars won't really work until everybody is involved. By this I mean that cars individually figuring out what's going on around them with radar or sonar or cameras or whatever will get confused and do counter-intuitive crap trying to adjust to the legion of clowns out there who can't/won't drive correctly. What needs to happen is that all cars, including current cars that don't have computers, need to have transponders that talk to other nearby cars with transponders. Then the "smart" cars can correctly anticipate what's going on better with human-driven cars, the "smart" cars can coordinate their speeds and placements in lanes (optimize space, speed, draft to save energy, etc.) and minimize traffic.

I say transponders and not GPS because I can see the argument against letting Them know where you are all the time and where you're going, that's an invasion of privacy argument that would matter to some people who might rebel against The System spying on them (whether you agree with that or not). But transponders would just talk locally, letting the "smart" cars coordinate and make adjustments for us in our "dumb" cars. So, when we want to change lanes or get off the highway or whatever the "smart" cars would just get out of the way, what do they care about giving up their lanes, their "drivers" are just dozing off in the the driver's seat anyways. But you would want the transponders to be pingable by traffic lights and other areas because there will be a time when you want the police to be able to find your stolen car or your kidnapped kid who was last seen in that car with license plate blah blah blah and transponders could be pinged by the authorities at that time. And police helicopters and cars could ping cars looking for that transponder in the event of a stolen car, etc., if that car drove off somewhere remote, and traffic lights or other locations would catalog all the transponders that drove by, including when and in what direction. But only to track down a car in an emergency, not to stalk you.

So to that end I can see the DMV issuing an official transponder to each older car (new cars would have them by default) and registered one-to-one to that car (no trading, like license plates) and whenever you smog the car or re-register it the DMV would confirm the transponder's existence and function. That way all cars could benefit from self-driving cars that can adjust to traffic and accidents and construction and the like. The transponders in the "dumb" cars could also relay useful info to the drivers, sound warnings about impending collisions, etc. The newer "smart" cars would still have radar or IR or whatever in order to try to deal with animals or kids or other obstacles. But I would still want an actual driver in the driver's seat, and a steering wheel, for those times when the A.I. freaked out or failed and an actual person needed to handle the situation.

If you want to read a good illustration of the near future, I recommend Charles Stross' books "Halting State" and "Rule 34", everything he suggests sounds absolutely plausible. Also, Vernor Vinge's book "Rainbow's End". They describe the type of everything wi-fi connected hellscape that would be required to really get self-driving cars off the ground.
 

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Here is your "transponder" idea being introduced. I saw these for the first time a few weeks ago.


You do contradict yourself a bit here with the transponder idea. You say that they shouldn't have GPS tech inside them so that there wouldn't be any privacy conflicts. Then later you say that they should be pingable so that they can be easily found. The fact that it can be pinged means that it has GPS tech inside of the device.
 

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AI is being introduced into automotive manufacturing industry. I can see lots of jobs in vehicle manufacturing being lost. Sure, some jobs will remain / be created, but the number of jobs created won't be enough to offset those lost.

It was actually introduced in 1988.....it was used to install upholstery in caddy's including the overhead's....what many are calling IA, is not.... as an example the "driverless cars", self-steering vehicles... that is not IA.... if your vehicle has electric steering, you can make it self steering as well..... just go to comma.com, this gent was/is an IA engineer, he got so sick and tired of the IT industry making such claims that he wrote his own software and IIRR the download is free....to your cell phone, connect to the vehicles OBD port, hang your phone up by the window and wa-la! You now have a self steering car that will take you to your designation!

The AI that the auto industry has is very limited for good reason.
 

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Here is your "transponder" idea being introduced. I saw these for the first time a few weeks ago.


You do contradict yourself a bit here with the transponder idea. You say that they shouldn't have GPS tech inside them so that there wouldn't be any privacy conflicts. Then later you say that they should be pingable so that they can be easily found. The fact that it can be pinged means that it has GPS tech inside of the device.
Pretty much everyone already walks around with a personal tracking device (aka a smartphone) anyway. There is no expectation of privacy in the public sphere anyway so it doesn't personally bother me if my vehicle info is tracked.

The key components of an automated vehicle system are:
  • Sensing the outside world: visual cameras, lidar, and radar. To some extent IMUs to share heading/magnitude vector data.
  • Connectivity from the cloud: gets traffic and road condition info. Cars have this today to let them know when to raise up if there is a bump, etc.
  • GPS: you gotta know where you are to find the relevant traffic info
  • Vehicle to Vehicle or V2X: this is a longer term feature as it can increase the efficiency of vehicles. The first application is in platooning semi trucks (aka bunching them closer together nascar style for increased efficiency on long haul routes). Also serves as a warning so the trailing vehicles will know to break faster than any visual indicator. There is no reason that V2X comms needs to supply a unique ID that is tied to your name; just a unique ID relative to the other vehicles in the vicinity.
In THEORY, every vehicle can act on its own for the benefit of its users meaning that it can take the sensing inputs and derive its best path. It needs the positional and map info to determine where its going (unless its just a monitoring system). An autonomous car should react to a reckless driver the same way that a person driving would; you'd back off and let the mustang driver clown pass. Connectivity is only needed if you are trying to coordinate larger groups.
 

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I do like the idea of bullying autonomous cars into submission 🤡
Your comment made me think of an article from a few years ago.

So there was this prototype burrito delivery bot that was being tested by a company called Starship Technologies. 80% of people would ignore it but a decent chunk of the population would go out of their way to kick it.
This behavior baffles me a bit because WTF did the robot do to you? You wouldn't kick someone's car (unless they tried to run you over) so why would you do that to a robot going about its business? There are some shades of Westworld "so its not human i can do whatever i want to it" thinking going on there.


The report also links to an academic article about Japanese kids who would screw with a robot in a public mall

Q: Going back to Matt's probably humorous "plan" on how to drive in the future, would your opinion on how to "treat" autonomous cars change if there was an occupant in the autonomous car or not? Clearly, in our lifetimes we will be sharing the roads with vehicles which carry people AND which will clearly NOT have people inside (think: pizza delivery bot).
 
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