The Hidden Time Watch, a Kickstarter-backed invention, looks just like any other watch from a distance; however, there’s a reason the team has already raised more than double its original goal.
Industrial designer Jiwoong Jung has found a unique way to express his fascination with time. As part of the Trio of Time, an international collaboration that melds technology and design, Jung created a watch that literally shows time disappearing. Using an ever-changing gradient display, the watch is designed to remind the wearer to live in the moment, instead of focusing on the past, obsessing over the future, or otherwise wasting the relatively little time that we have.
In a brightly lit coffee shop in Williamsburg, Max Stossel, a filmmaker and advocate in the Time Well Spent movement, succinctly summarizes the problem with how we spend our time in modern society. Highlighting the ways in which the design of our devices, in many ways, isn’t working in our favor, he states, “We live in an attention economy, one where the measure of success is in ‘time spent.’ There’s a lot of money to be made when we are spending our time on specific apps, company websites, and social media accounts. To that end, our technology is often designed around base metrics of ‘what grabs your attention?’”
With this in mind, according to Jung, the Hidden Time watch is meant to remind people of how they are spending their time—to draw people out of whatever their “time-suck” is and remind them that their time is limited and, thus, of terrible importance.
Indeed, time is our most valuable resource.
Art and Time
This watch’s sleek design allows the main focus to remain on the gradient face. It is made with top-of-the-line materials, and it is a testament to what is possible when art and technology merge. At it’s best, technology gives us new ways of seeing the world around us.
To that end, while mechanical aspects are often what tech stories are about, here, we see how inspiration and artistic interpretation can take something as simple as a watch and create a statement.
And keep in mind, creativity has allowed some of the greatest minds in history to answer questions that were previously thought unanswerable, to invent the never-before-seen, and derive new meaning from the natural world.
Sally can make 1,000 different types of salads using 21 ingredients that change depending on what’s seasonally available. She can create a salad in just about a minute and doesn’t require a living wage because, well, she’s not living.
Created by robotics startup Chowbotics, Sally the Salad Robot is destined for popularity as it provides hungry patrons with a wealth of healthy options. Chef Charlie Ayers, the first executive chef at Google, created a number of signature salads that customers can choose to order, but if they are not interested in a pre-planned option, they can customize their meal from the different ingredients offered.
CEO Deepak Sekar hopes to provide quick, healthy meals to busy professionals, at least in part replacing greasy fast food options. Sally’s capabilities will soon be put to the test as Sekar hopes to have 125 of the robots in tech offices in the San Francisco area by the end of 2017.
The Age of Automation
Sally is a testament to the age of automation. It’s sign that, in the very near future, we might be interacting with far more robots and far fewer people. Sally confirms that even the preparation of a chef-curated signature meal can be completed by a machine.
Now, Sally does still need humans to help it operate. The robot gets its ingredients from canisters that need to be loaded and reloaded by hand. But, even though humans are needed to keep the machine up and running, the difference between two humans interacting about a lunch order and the interaction between a human and Sally is monumentally different.
How automation will lead to job loss is a frequently discussed topic, and it is a major issue that we will have to find creative solutions to manage. But less talked about is how we, as humans, will change. If your daily interactions started to feature progressively fewer and fewer people, how might it affect you?
On April 10, the U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin demonstrated manned/unmanned teaming, which is another way of saying autonomous operation, in an experimental F-16 aircraft. The aircraft acted as a surrogate unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) during the flight demonstration, which was designed to resemble an air-to-ground strike mission, and autonomously reacted to the dynamic threat environment.
It was able to use available “assets” (information around it) along with mission priorities to autonomously plan and execute air-to-ground strike missions.
It was able to react dynamically to its changing threat environment while automatically managing contingencies for capability failures, loss of communication, and route deviations.
It maintained its Open Mission Systems (OMS) software integration environment and was fully compliant with USAF standards, ensuring that it could integrate software components developed by multiple providers quickly.
The first demonstration focused on control of advanced vehicles. The experimental F-16 began the demo by autonomously following a lead aircraft, flying in formation. Next, it conducted a ground-attack mission. Once it had completed its mission, it then automatically rejoined the lead aircraft. Throughout the sequence, Lockheed Martin automatic collision avoidance systems linked the capabilities to ensure safe, coordinated teaming between the surrogate UCAV and the F-16.
The Future of Combat
In the future, fleets of unmanned aircrafts may be heading into our skies to manage combat situations. This kind of technology, along with military drones and military robots, will hopefully make combat less deadly for humans.
Autonomous systems can access hazardous mission environments without endangering human soldiers. They also react faster than their human counterparts and aren’t susceptible to fatigue or stress. Effective manned/unmanned teaming allows the human warfighter to focus on complex and creative management and planning. It also reduces the high cognitive workload placed on soldiers and officers.
However, as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have warned, we must approach the use of AI in warfare with extreme caution. The potential dangers that come along with automated systems that are capable of doing massive amounts of destruction cannot be ignored, so testing like that of the F-16 is of the utmost importance as we enter this new era in combat.
Several politicians and leaders in technology law are calling for the United States to create a department that concentrates on robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). AI is becoming ubiquitous, and is present in everything from your cell phone to self-driving cars.
The future of the workforce is in automation, and a plan needs to be in place for workers who are affected. In his farewell address, former president Barack Obama expressed his concerns about the impact of future tech. “The next wave of economic dislocation won’t come from overseas” Obama said. “It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes many good, middle-class jobs obsolete.”
The U.S. should start taking action to address Obama’s concerns, argues John Frank Weaver, a lawyer who specializes in AI law. In an interview with Inverse, he advocated the formation of federal commission or similar government entity to establish overarching regulations of AI and autonomous technology.
“The idea that there’s one body where congress and the executive branch are able to pool their resources and come up with a coherent federal policy for the country, both in terms of domestic policy and how we approach international treaties, I think is important, because of the potential dangers in a lot of areas,” Weaver said.
Some of these potential dangers might be privacy concerns from drones or smart TVs, or safety issues stemming from cars driven by AI. There are also economic implications to these technological advances: what happens to taxis, Uber, Lyft, long-haul trucking, and other industries when AI takes over driving? Who is responsible for accidents caused by self-driving vehicles? A centralized federal agency could tackle these problems and others.
The idea of a federal agency to regulate robotics isn’t new. Ryan Calo, professor at the University of Washington School of Law and adviser of the Obama administration, wrote a proposal for one in 2014. The proposal points out that private tech companies are already looking to government agencies for guidance in these uncharted technological territories. For example, Toyota approached NASA for help when their cars were unexpectedly accelerating. But NASA cannot take on all the problems that will come with a growing robotics industry — its members have too many other things to focus on.
Currently, any regulations of robotics and AI are spread out across many organizations. The Federal Aviation Administration, Securities and Exchange Commission, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have some of the responsibility when it comes to robotics regulations. However, this arrangement doesn’t allow for full coverage or expertise in this highly technical and rapidly changing field.
While the U.S. federal government is lagging behind technological advances, many states are struggling to come up with their own solutions. Legislation on autonomous vehicles has been passed Alabama, California, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia, as well as in Washington D.C. , since 2012. However, when you compare the body of legislation to that of the airline industry, it doesn’t even come close. If every department takes on only the robotics issues that affect it directly, there’s no across-the-board policy, which can lead to confusion.
It’s not like such policies are impossible to put in place. Japan and the European Union have both created robotics commissions along the lines of what Calo and Weaver have proposed. In Japan in particular, robotics is an enormous industry. In 2009, the nation employed over 25,000 robot workers, more than any other country. This could be a solution for the country’s declining birthrate and diminishing workforce. The European Union’s proposal covers rules and ethics governing robots in addition to tackling the societal issues that will arise.
The consequences of allowing the robotics industry to run a muck without oversight could have far-reaching consequences. For a similar example, remember the the banking industry collapsed of 2008, which occurred because of a lack of federal oversight when it came to banking regulations. Nine years later, the industry is still suffering, according to author Anat Admati.
She says that it’s necessary to look to experts first to put guidelines in place — politicians and regulators probably don’t have the specific knowledge necessary to create rules about driverless cars, for example. In an interview with Inverse, Admati said, “It is important that policymakers rely on sufficient, un-conflicted expertise and make sure to set rules in a timely manner. Otherwise, we may discover that risks have been ignored when it is too late and harm has occurred.”
In a situation linked to the economy, it is vital that we have regulations in place to prevent another collapse like in 2008. A federal robotics agency is necessary in order to nurture this growing industry — and protect the nation from its side effects.
One of the hallmarks of our favorite science-fiction are the epic space battles where bolts of red and green light zip across the screen in opposing directions, connecting with spacecraft traveling at lightning speeds and causing glorious explosions in the vacuum of space. Of course, none of this is possible in reality thanks to the natural laws that govern such things.
Even so, modern innovation is bringing us closer to a similar future —at least one where laser weapons are a viable technology. In fact, some of the world’s biggest military contractors are currently developing prototypes for laser weaponry. The Navy has already been testing a 30 kW laser from the deck of the USS Ponce. Other more powerful lasers are being developed by Lockheed Martin to sit on trucks, prepared to defend against mortars and small drones.
Unfortunately, we won’t be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys just by looking at the color of their lasers; these real-life beams are colorless. Also — and perhaps most devastating of all — there won’t be a satisfying “pew-pew” with every shot.
The lasers would work by heating the target’s insides, causing it to explode prematurely. The weapon needs to be locked onto its target of a few seconds in order to achieve this feat; an impressive feat considering the target can be traveling at great speeds, and up to 457 meters (500 yards) away.
The more powerful lasers may be coming within the next few years. Lasers powered at 150 kW could take out an incoming missile if hit from the side, and a 300 kW laser could even take out a missile head-on. Developing these technologies will allow for a much cheaper missile defense system: instead of firing off a multimillion-dollar missile to combat an incoming attack, these lasers can take their place.
Right now, the most restrictive aspect of this technology is the size of the equipment it takes to operate them. They require a lot of power and the systems to generate and store that power are cumbersome. Further research is hoping to address that issue to make these weapons more viable.
Rumors about Google’s Pixel smartphone are swirling. One currently making the rounds in the South Korean press is that a one trillion KRW ($875 million) investment is in the works for LG Display, popular producer of screens for smartphones and tablets.
According to the Yonhap News Agency, the deal isn’t simply a purchase agreement — it’s a strategic move on two separate levels. Aside from potentially giving the Pixel curved edges courtesy of flexible organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels, the deal would also limit Google’s dependence on Samsung Display, which is nestled under Google’s rival Samsung and a supplier for Apple’s iPhones. Both Google and LG have yet to comment on the rumors.
The Pixel, which Google introduced in October 2016, has become quite a formidable contender in the world of smartphones. If these rumors are true, they confirm that Google wants to join smartphone giant Samsung in featuring devices with curved screens, which do seem to be the next step in screen technology for smartphones — according to other rumors, even Apple is moving toward them.
Changing Your World View
In a world in which so many devices rely on screen-based interactions, curved screens aren’t simply a gimmick — they’re a way for companies to reach their ultimate goal of transforming how we interact and communicate with our devices. However, they aren’t the only way.