Thanks to rapidly advancing software, the threat of job-killing automation has spread to nearly every occupation. According to a story in Wired, 70% of the jobs that exist today will vanish by the end of the century. Is your job on the list?
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- Why Ford (NYSE: F) Wants to Put a Robot in Your Driver's Seat
- A Hundred Billion Reasons to Invest in Robotics Technology
No, not the animal.
I'm talking about the four-legged robot built by the research division of the Pentagon known as DARPA. Their Cheetah robot recently clocked in at 28.30 miles per hour.
To be sure, the bot had a slight edge - it ran on a treadmill. Bolt was running on a track when he set the speed record for man at 27.78 mph.
Still, researchers say the Cheetah's new speed record shows that robots are becoming ever more agile. DARPA wants to use the bots to traverse tough terrain, like debris, ditches, and rocks.
Meantime, remember how I told you back in July about the robofish that could help save the oceans?
Next up are "coralbots." These diving ocean bots are designed to work in "swarms," like bees or ants. They may sound menacing but are being put to good use - saving the coral reefs.
Reefs are underwater living organisms essential to healthy life in the oceans. They make up some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world and do a lot to protect our shorelines. And they are in danger, not only from pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, but from overfishing, disease, agricultural runoff, a rising sea temperature, and ocean acidification.
That's why researchers in the U.K. are programming the bots to work in swarms to find coral fragments and re-cement them to the reef, restoring the structures. They will start work in the cold, deep waters off Scotland - a stretch often too challenging for humans.
Of course, these weren't the only fascinating high-tech advance I came across this month.
Here are some others that will blow you away....
If you drive a car, one of them might just be you.
Car crashes kill about 1.2 million people worldwide each year. And let's face it, drivers are getting worse -- not better.
Between texting, mobile e-mail and glitzy in-dash graphics, today's drivers are more distracted than ever.
In fact, more than 90 percent of all auto accidents are caused by driver error.
That's one of the reasons why Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) is taking the lead in producing robotic cars.
In other words, it won't be long before you can put your car on "auto pilot."
A Radical Change for Drivers
Technically speaking, though, the robot wouldn't actually drive the car for you.
Instead, the vehicle will be cram-packed with advanced sensors, computer chips, radar and software.
Together, all these gadgets are designed to take over driving at critical times, such as when a driver wanders out of his lane.
These autonomous features could also help combat the boredom many of today's drivers suffer in urban centers when they are stuck in traffic nearly an hour each day.
That's not to say that today's cars are unsafe.
Compared to vehicles from 20 years ago, today's feature-rich cars and trucks are practically like space capsules. A series of breakthroughs in design and materials have made cars safer and more sophisticated than ever before.
And yet the roads really aren't that much safer.
According to the journal Nature, the Milky Way Galaxy alone contains at least 100 billion planets.
Now forgive me if I sound excited...but that is huge.
After all, just 20 years ago, astronomers still widel y believed that our own tiny solar system contained allof the major planets.
So when I talk about how we are entering an Era of Radical Change, this is exactly what I'm talking about.
It's not about tiny incremental changes but gigantic shifts in thought.
And here is something else to ponder...
With all of this new data, scientists now believe the universe may contain more than 150 billion galaxies. The math is enough to make your head spin.
How Nuclear-Powered Robots Are Winning the New Space RaceAll this brings to mind one key point: The odds that we are alone in the universe grow smaller and smaller every day.
That puts us on the cusp of a New Space Race - one that will undoubtedly favor robots.
That's why I think NASA's new Spidernaut is such an important piece of technology. It's an eight-legged robot that looks like it crawled right out of a sci-fi movie.
NASA plans to use these robots to help construct a new generation of space-science platforms that are so large and fragile they'll have to be built in orbit.
As it turns out, spiders are really nimble creatures. NASA designed the prototype arachnid robot to have the grace and weight distribution of real spiders.
If the technology works as planned, these giant spider robots would crawl across a "web" of space tethers so as not to damage delicate equipment.
Now how cool is that?...
It all goes to show you that despite the soft global economy and budget cuts, we've actually never had more interest in space exploration.
But this time it's not just the United States and Russia. Indeed, China, India and Japan are also funding major programs.