Category Archives: Automation

California to ban sale of new gas-powered cars in 2035 

California will ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars to combat climate change starting in 2035, a move that could help reshape the nation’s automobile market and its output of greenhouse gases.

Source: California to ban sale of new gas-powered cars in 2035 under Newsom order –

The State that is currently unable to provide sufficient electricity to its people, will require that all new vehicles sold after 2035 be – basically – electric. Will be interesting to see how they solve the infrastructure challenge in just 14+ years. The State is presently building just half of a high speed rail system over a period of 25 years.

Related: I do not understand the full concept of Executive Orders. The report notes this mandate is done via Executive Order in order to bypass the Legislature and public input. That is not a democracy in action – that is an authoritarian and undemocratic government.

Separately, the SF Bay area Metropolitan Transportation Commission has voted to mandate that 60% of all workers must work from home – with exemptions for work that cannot be done from home.

Issues have been raised as to how this creates social isolation, difficulties for many people who do not have homes suitable for work, and wipes out large numbers of businesses and jobs that support workers downtown. It also treats those who already walk or take public transport to work the same as everyone else – they too would be required to work at home.

Continue reading California to ban sale of new gas-powered cars in 2035 

CBS flags its own marketing material on Youtube as a copyright violation – heh!

When Youtube originally announced they would auto-detect music copyright violations, I noted that they could not tell the difference between a licensed use and an unlicensed use. CBS just managed to issue a take down notice on its own stars – hilarious – and shut down a much watched live stream run put on by CBS marketing.

A bot can’t tell when playback is approved or infringing if nobody tells it.

Source: CBS’s overzealous copyright bots hit Star Trek virtual Comic-Con panel | Ars Technica

One of my videos was flagged on Youtube for a music copyright violation that illustrate that Youtube’s much vaunted AI is a joke.

I put together an edited video of a U.S. Civil War era historical camp and battle re-enactment. I added a recording of Taps, performed by a US Army trumpet player, and posted on an official US Army web page, with unambiguous wording that the recording was in the public domain and could be used for any purpose.

And then two different recording companies, Sony being one of them, flagged my video has copyright infringement!

First, how could both of them claim copyright simultaneously? That right there illustrated their fraudulent claims.

Second, the music was written by a Civil War private and a General during the Civil War and before the enactment of copyright laws. The music itself is not copyrighted.

Third, the music was performed by the US Army and released in a public recording which they said was not copyrighted.

I had to file a complaint to Youtube and my video was eventually released.

It sure illustrated the absurdity of automated copyright strike systems.

This is how you solve the medical mask shortage

DERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WHP) – The Hershey Company announced Friday that it is committing $1 million to acquire, install and staff a new manufacturing line dedicated to producing face masks.

The new line, which will be capable of producing up to 45,000 masks per day, will start operating near the end of May.

Source: The Hershey Company commits $1 million to production of disposable face masks | KATU

That’s a small production size but definitely higher output than manual/volunteer labor hand sewing operations.

Transportation: #Drone delivery of consumer packages is mostly hype but does have some specific good use cases

This euphoria is largely based on assumptions that drones inevitably deliver better customer service at lower costs with a better environmental footprint than conventional delivery by a driver in a parcel van. These claims are little more than flights of fancy that cloud a more realistic assessment of the potential for the use of drones in logistics.

For the technology to work in commercial practice, however, the economics must also work.

Source: Commentary: Drone-Delivery Projects Must Look Beyond the Hype – WSJ

The primary value in drone delivery may be

1. Delivering value dense items that need to be delivered quickly. Medicine is the classic example.

2. Very short hop delivery. The USPS is experimenting with drones that launch from your local postal delivery vehicles to carry small packages up to home door steps, rather than having the postal worker have to take time to walk that distant (and deal with loose dogs!)

3. Delivering items to remote customers, not urban customers. When a delivery truck comes through my neighborhood, they commonly stop and deliver packages to multiple homes. This is pretty efficient. But delivering to remote (e.g. farms, ranches) and rural properties is not as efficient.

The dreams promoted by Google, Amazon and UPS of zillions of drones flying miles out from warehouses to drop off low value packages at consumer homes are not realistic at this time.

Automation: Grocery stores setting up automated fulfillment centers to fill customer orders

Albertsons and Stop & Shop are testing automated “micro-fulfillment centers” in the backs of their own stores that are dedicated to fulfilling deliveries and pickups. At two stores, Albertsons is using robots to prepare customers’ orders, which it says speeds up the picking process.


.And in Salem, New Hampshire, Walmart is piloting a system with autonomous carts that gather customers’ grocery orders and bring them to Walmart workers, who then prepare them for delivery or pickup.

Source: Why supermarkets are building ‘dark stores’ – CNN

As remarked many times on this blog, automated machinery, which has been growing since the late 19th century, will take over more and more minimum wage jobs – and this will accelerate as minimum wage hikes and mandated benefits increase the costs of hiring for minimal skilled positions.

Business: Electric vehicles require less labor to assemble

Since EV’s need fewer workers to assemble, EVs may then be more attractive to manufacturers as they lower costs and potentially increase profits:

Not only is the industry grappling with falling consumer demand for cars, its shift to EVs will also cost even more jobs. EVs are simply easier to build and require fewer parts without an engine. The UAW expects the move away from gas engines could cut 35,000 jobs over the next several years, according to a research study conducted by the union last year.


Automation: McDonald’s fast food plows ahead with more automation

More automation going into McDonald’s outlets:

After closing the Dynamic Yield acquisition, McDonald’s quickly deployed its machine learning tech in more than 8,000 U.S. drive-thrus. The technology changes drive-thru menus based on the time of day, weather, traffic and the customer’s order — all to coax the customer to spend more

As labor costs rise, sometimes due to changes in minimum wage laws, retailers are increasingly deploying automation to reduce costs. This was going to happen regardless of minimum wage law increases but increases in required minimum wages are accelerating the trend to automation.

Not only does automation, and semi-automation like mobile apps and self order kiosks reduce costs, they say it also results in consumers spending more per order.

In the above example, McDonald’s is deploying systems to persuade or trick customers into buying more items or more expensive items than they may have been planning to purchase.

Automated espresso kiosks coming to SFO Airport

Automated, robotic espresso making kiosks are coming to San Francisco International Airport.

As noted previously, automation is coming and higher minimum wage and mandated benefits laws are likely to accelerate the trend to automation. According to the news report, airport employees are worried that more automation is coming and will replace other jobs.

In some ways, these are more advanced vending machines, albeit, producing a higher quality product than pre-packaged items in vending machines.

Robotic coffee baristas coming to SFO

Self driving cars have trouble with unpredictable pedestrians and cyclists

I imagine at some point they will propose requiring pedestrians and cyclists to carry a remote ID transponder, sending precise location, speed and direction of travel information to automated cars and trucks. May be even make it two-way to alert pedestrians to incoming automated vehicles.

Driverless car proponents say there’s one surefire shortcut to getting self-driving cars on the streets sooner: persuade pedestrians to behave less erratically.

Source: No jaywalking! Some self-driving car advocates want to reprogram pedestrians | The Seattle Times

Won’t be long before pedestrians will need to be licensed!

Update – we are close to making this work. The ubiquitous smart phone will become the transponder device. As we travel by foot, our phone will periodically send a data burst on Wi-Fi or perhaps Bluetooth (but range is limited). Children and those not having a smart phone will be required to be accompanied by someone that has a phone or perhaps they will need to have self contained beacon transponder clipped to their clothing.

Don’t laugh. This is exactly how bureaucrats think especially when lobbied by industrial organizations.