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You May Never Win Roboshambo Again

The robots are breathing down our necks. The Ishikawa Oku Laboratory in Tokyo, experimenting with highspeed motion sensors, have programmed a robot-hand to play rock-paper-scissors, or “roshambo.” Thanks to the motion-sensors, the machine can recognize what move a human is about to make and gain the upper hand, so to speak.

IEEE Spectrum has the story:

It only takes a single millisecond for the robot to recognize what shape your hand is in, and just a few more for it to make the shape that beats you, but it all happens so fast that it’s more or less impossible to tell that the robot is waiting until you commit yourself before it makes its move, allowing it to win 100% of the time.

First it was chess, now rock-paper-scissors. With each new parlor game, the machines advance one step closer to world domination. (Perhaps a fourth option needs to be included besides the traditional three: “Pull” that pulls the plugs on pesky robots.)

But the real implication of course has nothing to do with games. Robots are steadily gaining capacities, and the future of manufacturing is going to involve fewer and fewer people. Robots have been slow to get off the ground, but progress is beginning to speed up.

This, ultimately, is why nostalgic blue nostrums like “industrial policy” have such limited potential to turn things around. People are going to have to learn to make a living providing services to other people. There really is no other way into the future.

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  • WigWag

    I’m not sure why, but Professor Mead’s post put me in mind of this,

  • Because there were so many Baby Boomers and because so many of us have houses and so few of us had enough kids, more houses will not be needed as we retire & die off… So we won’t need construction workers. Because robots are becoming ubiquitous in all kinds of manufacturing, we will not need skilled blue collar workers for that, either. With the advances in driverless vehicles, we won’t need truckers. So we had better – REAL SOON – get unions out of the classroom so we are educating our kids far better than today, for the farther we advance into the Information Age, the less room there will be for stupid, ignorant or uneducated people. And we’d better figure-out what to do with those lacking the intellectual capacity or drive to keep-up.

  • Bill Woods

    This thing is kind-of cheating, by observing your move before making its own, but computers have been outplaying humans for a while, by remembering human players’ patterns.

  • Kris

    WigWag@1: Whereas I immediately thought of this. How uncultured of me.

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