Monday, April 24, 2017

Farmbot Updates and Artificial Intelligence Musings

Remember the Farmbot open source farming robot that came out in July 2016?

Well apparently it looks like they are finally shipping.

As with something like this the forum is full of customer service issues.  A lot of these issues are I suspect because they are using Arduino.

The more I use Arduino, the more I realize just exactly how unreliable it is to work in a industrial environment.  It is cheap and easy to get into but there is something buggy about these things.  Possibly either bad assembly, bad code or maybe just the chip itself is unstable?

Prices on it are really high as well.  $3500 for it.  I mean yeah it is a good price, but not for something so buggy,  There is a huge trade-off between getting something sent out fast and software updates in the field or delaying delivery to send out a more reliable product,  It is a hard thing to think about.

In other news Drudge linked to a article about a Jack Ma speech describing the CEO of the future as an AI.  

In my circle of tech guys, this is already a reality.  Prototypes of this are available today.  PM me if you want one.

For the last couple years a buddy of mine has been developing his own version of Jarvis.  Well that is what it started out as, and has morphed into a combination factory, business assistant, and life organizer.

Which brings me to this idealized AI for business described here:


To solve the problem, Burger-G contracted with a software consultant and commissioned a piece of software. The goal of the software was to replace the managers and tell the employees what to do in a more controllable way. Manna version 1.0 was born.

Manna was connected to the cash registers, so it knew how many people were flowing through the restaurant. The software could therefore predict with uncanny accuracy when the trash cans would fill up, the toilets would get dirty and the tables needed wiping down. The software was also attached to the time clock, so it knew who was working in the restaurant. Manna also had "help buttons" throughout the restaurant. Small signs on the buttons told customers to push them if they needed help or saw a problem. There was a button in the restroom that a customer could press if the restroom had a problem. There was a button on each trashcan. There was a button near each cash register, one in the kiddie area and so on. These buttons let customers give Manna a heads up when something went wrong.

At any given moment Manna had a list of things that it needed to do. There were orders coming in from the cash registers, so Manna directed employees to prepare those meals. There were also toilets to be scrubbed on a regular basis, floors to mop, tables to wipe, sidewalks to sweep, buns to defrost, inventory to rotate, windows to wash and so on. Manna kept track of the hundreds of tasks that needed to get done, and assigned each task to an employee one at a time.

Manna told employees what to do simply by talking to them. Employees each put on a headset when they punched in. Manna had a voice synthesizer, and with its synthesized voice Manna told everyone exactly what to do through their headsets. Constantly. Manna micro-managed minimum wage employees to create perfect performance.

The software would speak to the employees individually and tell each one exactly what to do. For example, "Bob, we need to load more patties. Please walk toward the freezer."

Or, "Jane, when you are through with this customer, please close your register. Then we will clean the women's restroom."

And so on. The employees were told exactly what to do, and they did it quite happily. It was a major relief actually, because the software told them precisely what to do step by step.

Personally I would love to have this type of software running here for myself.  I do not have the development funds to get my buddys AI here, installed and tailored to my own use... yet anyways.