AI TECHNOLOGY IS AT YOUR DOOR

The robot revolution has arrived

AI TECHNOLOGY IS AT YOUR DOOR

AI TECHNOLOGY IS AT YOUR DOOR

Machines now perform all sorts of tasks:

They clean big stores, patrol borders and help autistic children.

But will they make life better for humans?

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably never met a robot. But you will.

I met one on a windy, bright day last January, on the short-grass prairie near Colorado’s border with Kansas,

In the company of a rail-thin 31-year-old from San Francisco named Noah Ready-Campbell.

To the south, wind turbines stretched to the horizon in uneven ranks, like a silent army of gleaming three-armed giants. In front of me was a hole that would become the foundation for another one.

A Caterpillar 336 excavator was digging that hole—62 feet in diameter,

With walls that slope up at a 34-degree angle, and a floor 10 feet deep and almost perfectly level.

The Cat piled the dug-up earth on a spot where it wouldn’t get in the way; it would start a new pile when necessary.

Every dip, dig, raise, turn, and drop of the 41-ton machine required firm control and well-tuned judgment.

In North America, skilled excavator operators earn as much as $100,000 a year.

The seat in this excavator, though, was empty.

The operator lay on the cab’s roof.

It had no hands; three snaky black cables linked it directly to the excavator’s control system.

It had no eyes or ears either, since it used lasers, GPS, video cameras,

And gyroscope-like sensors that estimate an object’s orientation in space to watch over its work.

Ready-Campbell, co-founder of a San Francisco company called Built Robotics, clomped across the coarse dirt,

Climbed onto the excavator, and lifted the lid of a fancy luggage carrier on the roof.

Inside was his company’s product—a 200-pound device that does work that once required a human being.

“This is where the AI runs,” he said, pointing into the collection of circuit boards, wires, and metal boxes that made up the machine:

Sensors to tell it where it is, cameras to let it see, controllers to send its commands to the excavator, communication devices that allow humans to monitor it,

And the processor where its artificial intelligence, or AI, makes the decisions a human driver would.

“These control signals get passed down to the computers that usually respond to the joysticks and pedals in the cab.”

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