Tag Archives: China

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Is China’s government ever going to grow up?


I have thought a lot about this piece since I read it: Is China’s government ever going to grow up? – The Washington Post Key quote from it:

.. the sad truth is that as China rises, instead of embracing a superpower mindset and growing a thicker skin, it is becoming increasingly more sensitive to perceived slights — all while it fosters a thin-skinned, resentful nationalism among its people.

I wonder why China is so thin-skinned and taking action against any one doing the slight thing (e.g. favouring a tweet). It is the response of a weak country or a bully, not a strong one. China is a strong nation: it should act like one.

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Humanless stores: a bad idea that refuses to die


It’s funny how certain tech ideas are bad and yet keep coming back, like zombies. Micropayments is one. Another is stores or establishments run without people: automats, in a sense. It’s a terrible idea in my opinion, and yet people keep trying them. Case in point, here’s some in China that came and went: China’s unmanned store boom ends as quickly as it began – Nikkei Asian Review. 

I am sure these will pop up from time to time. Robots are becoming more prevalent, and the urge to keep putting more and more of them in establishments will continue. But like the old automats, I think they will only get so far before they fail.

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Chinese millennials are just like young people everywhere (surprise!)


I love this piece: Chinese millennials are rejecting dull factory jobs — and transforming the economy – Los Angeles Times.

Why? Because it affirms my view that people are largely the same when it comes to certain demographics.

I say “largely” because there are differences. Chinese millennials will still have differences with millennials in Serbia or Canada or Kenya or Peru due to culture and geography. But there are many similarities. Going through that piece in the LA Times, I kept reading the quotes and thinking: that’s true for young people here too!

People ignore age demographics all the time, as if young people — not to mention older people — have different interests and drives in different eras and in different regions. Don’t be one of those people. 🙂

On deplatforming on social media

Deplatforming is starting to rise up as a means of dealing with the bad effects of social media. For instance:

AI is hard, China version

According to this, chatbots in China have been removed after being critical of the Chinese government. This to me is not unlike what happened to Microsoft's chat bot that became racist after being feed racist input from users. If you put AI out there and allow any form of input, then the equivalent of vandals can overtake you AI and feed it whatever they choose. I'm not certain if that was the case in China but I suspect it was.

AI researchers need to expect the worst case use cases if they allow their software to do unsupervised learning on the Internet. If they don't, it's likely that their projects will be a disaster and they will do damage to the AI community in general.

Calamityware is the best dishware you can get


This porcelain is not just amazing, it is something you can buy. And not just robots, but sea monsters and flying monkeys too. Perfect for anyone needing a house warming. 🙂

I love the detail: the robot is in the middle of the plate and also all around the edge.

Via the always interesting Colossal blog.

In the future, people will not make manufacture things. The question is: what is next?

As this article in the Wall Street Journal shows, advances in Robots May Revolutionize China’s Electronics Manufacturing. Here is some key parts of the article (underlining is mine):

A new worker’s revolution is rising in China and it doesn’t involve humans. With soaring wages and an aging population, electronics factory managers say the day is approaching when robotic workers will replace people on the Chinese factory floor. A new wave of industrial robots is in development, ranging from high-end humanoid machines with vision, touch and even learning capabilities, to low-cost robots vying to undercut China’s minimum wage.

Over the next five years these technologies will transform China’s factories, executives say, and also fill a growing labor shortage as the country’s youth become increasingly unwilling to perform manual labor. How the transformation plays out will also go a long way in deciding how much of the electronics supply chain remains in China.

Now, I would argue that while wages are relatively higher in China, the idea of them soaring is very relative too. I’d also argue that even if the wages were stagnant, it would not matter, for the robots will become cheaper and more productive year after year. The question isn’t how will robots manufacture every thing, it’s a question of when will they manufacture every thing.

From there, the next question is: what will people do? Who will buy these products? There is a hint of an answer from the realm of software development. As more lower levels of software development were taken over by other software (e.g. assemblers, compilers, IDEs), software developers focus on higher level versions of software and bigger and more complex problems. This could also be the future of manufacturing. People who work in manufacturing will not make the things: they will design the things (e.g., robots and instructions for robots) that make the things and work on more complex ways to make things (e.g., how to take parts made in China, Kenya, and Canada and have them all come together in the same place and as little time as possible).

(Photo is of a concept robot from Delta Electronics).