This story was spotted by M.G. who passed it along, with our thanks. It's one of those stories that may not seem all that significant, until one connects a few dots, and connects a few technologies not referred to in the article. So without further ado, the article:
Note what's going on here:
Wearable technology takes on a different meaning in the world of automobiles. As employees get older and younger and avoid the idea of working on a factory production line, auto companies are looking for ways to lighten the load.
High tech exoskeletons are being studied by companies like Hyundai Motor Co., Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. The technology originally developed to help people who can no longer walk or stand alone, relieves fatigue and prevents injuries. It’s especially useful for repetitive processes that can’t be automated, even when robotics is making great strides in the industry.
All types of businesses have an “emphasis on corporate social responsibility and occupational safety” and strive to prevent workplace injuries, said Xu Zhenhua, founder of ULS Robotics, a Shanghai-based company that provides exoskeletons to automakers, airport operators, and other industrial manufacturers.
ULS Robotics is developing three exoskeletons that workers can wear to hold and lift heavy equipment. One is for the upper body, another goes around the waist, and the third focuses on the lower limbs. The first two weigh about seven kilograms each and allow the wearer to lift another 20 kilograms. They are powered by a lithium battery with a lifespan of around six to eight hours. (Emphasis added)
Many people have blogged about the rise of robotics, including this author, and more importantly, former Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Catherine Austin Fitts, who has offered the hypothesis that moves are afoot to robotize everything, including to the extent to make robots "legal persons" for taxation purposes.
With that in mind, I want to focus on this line in the above quotation: "It's especially useful for repetitive processes that can't be automated, even when robotics is making great strides in the industry." It's that line that forms the core of today's high octane speculation. Suppose for a moment that you had some manufacturing process that could not be automated, and you needed to learn how to automate it. Solution? Have the humans wear exoskeletons with computer memory that recorded every step of the manufacturing process, including such things as retrieving needed supplies for certain steps, or deciding when one process needed to be suspended in order to work on another. Over time, a database is accumulated allowing one to dispense with the exoskeleton - and the human worker wearing it - and replace it, and him or her, with a robot.
And with that possibility, we're in Isaac Asimov Foundation trilogy territory, as more and more is robotized and run by technocrats behind computer screens, until the inevitable breakdowns occur, and no one remembers how to actually make things...
See you on the flip side...