The Most Automated Catch, Part 1

I was watching an old episode of Deadliest Catch recently and one of the captains said he’d staff the boat with robots and run it from Seattle if he could. Naturally, that got me thinking…

First, could robots crab fish? Most of the process could be automated pretty easily, it’s a lot of repetitive actions. But, they are complicated by rolling seas and winter storms. So first order of business, the robots would need to be able to carry out their tasks on a shifting surface that isn’t always level. Or dry.

The two other tasks that, while repetitive, require some form of human cognition are throwing the hook and sorting the crab.

Throwing the hook could potentially be done by a pneumatic launcher that reels the line back in. Or by a specially designed robot. Or something else. But the tool will need to judge the distance to the line to be hooked. Launching the same distance every time seems inefficient and carries the common issue of a “standard” distance needing to be chosen, what happens when an outlier crops up? The entire system will need to be able to adapt and handle missed throws that may require turning around. Crab fishing isn’t just an assembly line on the ocean.

These seem like minor quibbles though, and it’s the crab sorting that interests me most.

Crabs must be of a certain size, gender, and type. A crab is plucked from a pile and checked to make sure it is a) the right species, b) male, and c) at least the minimum size or larger. If the crab meets all three criteria it is kept, if it doesn’t it is returned to the ocean. Sounds like a problem for computer vision! A system could be trained on pictures of different crab species and genders and then set look for only males of the species being fished. Then the crab could be measured for size and compared to the minimum allowable as the final yes/no criteria. You could even develop different systems for each species since only one species is fished at once.

So, yeah, I think it’s feasible that we could have robot crab fishers one day.

The Autonomous Vehicle Economy

I’ve been toying with the economic consequences of the impending autonomous vehicle revolution for a while now and this recent IKEA thought exercise got me thinking about it again. 🔁

For now, a brain dump in bullet point format. Maybe I’ll expand on/gussy up these thoughts in the future. 🤷

  • Drie-thrus will die and be reborn. Fast food restaurants will struggle as their convenience factor will be eroded once hands do not need to be on steering wheels. Connected and networked cars will allow for safely ordering ahead and cars will become dining cars with expansive, outsourced kitchens. Any restaurant that desires could be a drivethru or grab-and-go establishment. A Ruth’s Chris at every interchange sliding surf and turf specials through windows to be eaten on the go. 🥩
  • Horizon lines are decluttered as billboards disappear. Why pay to mass advertise on a floating wall when you can deliver targeted messaging inside your dream customers vehicle on a heads up, digital dashboard product with dynamic creative tailored on the fly using input from onboard sensors and information and the targets data portfolio from the web. Or a subscription allows riders to opt out of all advertising and cruise in peace as the admire the landscape. 🏞️
  • The roadside motel/hotel/travelodge industry dwindles as cars assume the duty of sleeper car, transporting their charge as they sleep. Why stop and extend travel time if you can careen towards your destination while unconscious? 🛌
  • Roadside assistance and emergency response becomes a rare occurrence one vehicles form a networked hive mind that eradicates traffic and accidents and vehicles can predict, plan, and schedule all necessary maintenance. 🚨

Src: MIT Tech Review

The Bot Economy 💵

A recent issue of the Inside AI newsletter included the prediction that eventually we will sell things to AIs. The inflection point is said to be when population growth levels off and capitalism foresees its downfall and doom. 📉

First, I think modern capitalism’s growth requirement is a bug, not a feature. Focusing on growth and appeasing shareholders can lead to a lot of bad decisions. I think we are better served by rethinking this aspect of capitalism, whether that means tweaking what we mean by that term or creating some kind of post-capitalism. But this has nothing to do with AI, I don’t think. 🤔

Back on track, I don’t see the true trigger to create a bot economy. Why would AIs suddenly want to buy things? Why will AIs compete in the same exact way people and corporations do? This idea seems to be to be an anthropomorphizaton of AI by projecting capitalistic human characteristics in to them. 📽

Once AIs are competing with each other for work – by reputation, by differentiation, etc, they will need ways to distinguish themselves.  In other words, they will have the same issues humans have – they want to appear better/different than others.

I just don’t understand how we get from our current version of AI to algorithms competing with each other and doing so via an open market. Also, I’m pretty sure toasters don’t aspire to buy things. 🤷‍♂️

Src: Inside AI

rAIdio 📻

Deepwave has released an AI radio transceiver. It’s got bits and chips that mean you can run AI applications on radio frequencies. 📡

The post contains some interesting potential use cases, but I’m having more fun imagining all kinds of weird AI radio futures. Being a podcast nerd and having a weird nostalgia for the golden age of radio I never experienced just makes this idea sound cool. 🕶

A smart radio that learns your preferences and auto-tunes to shows and music you would like. A radio that will announce sports scores during a music program on another station. A radio that interprets a TV broadcast and turns it into a radio show, adding context and narration and not just playing the show’s audio portion. An emergency radio that always monitors the weather bands and announces when alerts or warnings go into effect. 💬

Src: Military Embedded Systems