Sep 28, 2017

Living with robots

Hitachi robot EMIEW3 shown at the Halcyon event. Photo: Erin Ross / Axios

Our latest Axios Science event, hosted with AAAS and Halcyon, had a couple of discussions with scientists and policymakers on what our future will be like living with robots. Food delivery drones, robotic caregivers, and autonomous construction-bots are in our future.

Watch the event, hosted by our own Alison Snyder. Among the panel members were: Republican Rep. Will Hurd, CyPhy CTO Helen Greiner, and former White House CTO Megan Smith.

Hurd:

Hurd said that while there currently isn't a definition for a digital act of war, recent events have shown that AI can play a role in politics, particularly in disinformation campaigns.

"These are some of the broader questions we have to answer. When you talk about disinformation, we don't have a strategy for counter-disinformation. When you talk about the potential uses of AI in disinformation, and influence in perspective, that's scary. How do you prepare for that? That's a scenario that's scaring me," Hurd said.

Greiner:

"We've come a huge way, there's lots of robots out there, but we're not R2D2. Yet," Greiner said. As robots become more common, she said people need to think about what regulations are necessary to keep people safe, but also consider what regulations can stifle innovation.

"The robots are getting bigger, and stronger and faster and more autonomous, so there are more risks coming up," Greiner said. "Still, the industry has done a good job putting out products that are safe."

Greiner added, "I was inspired to go into robotics because of R2D2 when I was ten years old."

Smith:

Smith said the flexibility and capabilities of these robots mean they can respond to things like the disasters in Houston and the Caribbean. But they can also be used to spy and invade privacy.

"Technology isn't good or bad, but we choose to use it in particular ways. Any technology can be weaponized," Smith said.

Smith added that as robots take over conditionally gendered jobs like housekeeping, "we might be able to start seeing better gender equality, or racial equality."

Go deeper

Making sense of the UN's climate conference coronavirus delay

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The scuttling of November's pivotal UN climate conference is the starkest sign yet of how coronavirus is throwing a wrench into efforts to combat global warming. But like the wider relationship between the coronavirus and climate initiatives, the ramifications are ... complicated.

Driving the news: UN officials announced Wednesday that the annual summit to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, is postponed until some unknown time next year.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 952,171 — Total deaths: 48,320 — Total recoveries: 202,541Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 216,722 — Total deaths: 5,137 — Total recoveries: 8,672Map.
  3. Stimulus updates: Social Security recipients won't need to file a tax return to receive their checks.
  4. Jobs update: 6.6 million people filed for unemployment last week, a staggering number that eclipses the record set on March 26.
  5. Health updates: The Trump administration won't reopen enrollment for ACA marketplaces this year.
  6. National updates: The Grand Canyon closed after a resident tested positive for coronavirus.
  7. World update: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu re-entered self-quarantine after his health minister tested positive for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

The weirdest NBA draft ever

Table: Axios Visuals

The 2020 NBA draft was already shaping up to be the weirdest draft in years, and now that the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the sports world, it could be the weirdest draft ever.

Why it matters: While most drafts have a clear hierarchy by the time April rolls around, this draft does not. There's no reliable No. 1 pick, almost every top-10 prospect has a glaring weakness and the global sports hiatus has shrouded the whole class in mystery.

Go deeperArrow44 mins ago - Sports