Signal to Noise Report
Robot Arms, Space Junk, Virtual Influencers and Work Surveillance. More headlines from the bright, unnerving world of today.
The Signal to Noise Report collects headlines to illustrate humanity’s move into what is beginning to resemble a hybrid species: The Jetsons meets Blade Runner. The idea being that we have a proclivity to accept (with glee) whatever new techno gizmos are shoved at us, yet rarely question their purpose and/or their long-term effects on our health and sanity.
Forever young, beautiful and scandal-free: The rise of South Korea's virtual influencers
She's got more than 130,000 followers on Instagram, where she posts photos of her globetrotting adventures. Her makeup is always impeccable, her clothes look straight off the runway. She sings, dances and models -- and none of it is real.
Rozy is a South Korean "virtual influencer," a digitally rendered human so realistic she is often mistaken for flesh and blood.
"Are you a real person?" one of her Instagram fans asks. "Are you an AI? Or a robot?"
According to the Seoul-based company that created her, Rozy is a blend of all three who straddles the real and virtual worlds.
She is "able to do everything that humans cannot ... in the most human-like form," Sidus Studio X says on its website.
A Large Object Landed on His Sheep Farm. It Came From Space.
Mick Miners was herding sheep on a four-wheeler last week when he stumbled upon a pointy black object that looked more than nine feet tall. It reminded him of either a burned tree or a piece of farm machinery.
“Pretty frightening, actually,” Mr. Miners, 48, said by phone on Thursday from his roughly 5,000-acre property in a remote corner of southeastern Australia.
“I was quite surprised,” he added. “It’s not something you see every day on a sheep farm.”
It was space debris.
Source: NY Times
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300 Japanese stores will be reshelved by robot arms next month
The Tokyo-based robotics company, Telexistence Inc., announced a new partnership with the Japanese convenience store chain, FamilyMart, earlier today. The new partnership will see new workers arriving in 300 major metropolitan locations later this month—a fleet of robotic arms tasked solely with reshelving the minimarts’ refrigerated products.
Should things go awry behind-the-scenes, the TX-SCARA will also be able to fallback on human employees who remotely control the arms until the issue is addressed, although Telexistence vows the robots can operate autonomously up to 98-percent of the time.
Source: Popular Science
The Rise of the Worker Productivity Score
A FEW YEARS AGO, Carol Kraemer, a longtime finance executive, took a new job. Her title, senior vice president, was impressive. The compensation was excellent: $200 an hour.
But her first paychecks seemed low. Her new employer, which used extensive monitoring software on its all-remote workers, paid them only for the minutes when the system detected active work. Worse, Ms. Kraemer noticed that the software did not come close to capturing her labor. Offline work — doing math problems on paper, reading printouts, thinking — didn’t register and required approval as “manual time.” In managing the organization’s finances, Ms. Kraemer oversaw more than a dozen people, but mentoring them didn’t always leave a digital impression. If she forgot to turn on her time tracker, she had to appeal to be paid at all.
“You’re supposed to be a trusted member of your team, but there was never any trust that you were working for the team,” she said.
Since the dawn of modern offices, workers have orchestrated their actions by watching the clock. Now, more and more, the clock is watching them.
Source: NY Times
Future or fantasy? Designs unveiled for one-building city stretching 106 miles in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has unveiled designs for its ambitious urban project "The Line," touted as a one-building city in the desert which will stretch over 106 miles and ultimately house 9 million people.
Part of the Neom project, a grandiose scheme years from completion, the proposed futuristic city will be located in the northwest of the Gulf country, near the Red Sea, according to an announcement by the kingdom's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Line is a proposed 200-meter wide (656 feet) building acting as a vertical city, designed to sit 500 meters (1,640 feet) above sea level. It will span 34 square kilometers (13 square miles), according to the press release
“When the band gelled, it felt like the robot was part of our collective intelligence — that it was sensing what we were feeling and doing,” he said.
— from A.I. Is Not Sentient. Why Do People Say It Is? in the NY Times.
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Ned Mudd resides in Alabama where he engages in interspecies communication, rock collecting, and frequent cloud watching. He is the author of The Adventures of Dink and DVD (a space age comedy). Some of Ned’s best friends are raccoons.