International Robotics Rivalries Intensify Amid Calls for Jobs Policies

In the News
March 31, 2017

International robotics is more than just a scattering of researchers, manufacturers, and end users around the world.

The flow of funding, government policies, and regional needs and specialties have a huge influence on how the technology develops and spreads into different industries.

It’s easy to assume that the robotics advances and adoption are inevitable and universal. However, every robotics organization needs to take into account emotional reactions, bureaucratic inertia, and national priorities.

In this week’s look at the most important developments in global robotics, we jump from the UAE to Canada, from government policy to fears of automation, and to artificial intelligence and more.

UAE advances through AI

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has long been forward-thinking. The oil-rich kingdom has invested millions of dollars into redefining how its economy and society will integrate technology such as robotics.

The Smart Dubai Office and Smart Dubai Government Establishment recently launched a laboratory to train public- and private-sector employees on how to deploy AI.

The government wants to learn how to use AI to reconfigure how people live and work. A key figure in the Smart Dubai Office said it wants to use AI to “replace call centers” and help parents find schools for their children.

What the UAE is doing goes beyond just another investment in a commercial machine-learning application. Instead, the country is making AI accessible to the masses by integrating the technology into its platforms, services, and design.

This kind of thinking is will take AI from labs and boardrooms into people’s offices, cars, and homes. The UAE has been a pioneer in “smart city” planning, and now it is creating a vision for AI.

Have no fear, automation is far away…

Back in September, the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., said it would replace 7,000 employees with robots.

In January, an insurance company in Japan laid off 34 workers and started using IBM Watson. That same month, the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) said it would conduct a trial for AI to respond to “111” calls (its version of 911).

Apparently, these developments aren’t enough to...

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