The first human-sized robot commercially available, Amazon Sidewalk is open to developers and Twitter to block unverified accounts from appearing in Recommended Tweets.
These stories and more on trending hashtags for Thursday, March 30
James Roy, I’m your guest host this week – here’s today’s top tech news.
A company called Agility Robotics unveiled the first commercially available human-sized robot, designed to work in warehouses.
The humanoid robot is slim, 5’9″ and 140 pounds. It’s been named Digit and will work alongside humans, pick up and move plastic cans, walk to its charging dock to rest, and return to work after recharging.
Damian Shelton, CEO of Agility Robotics, told news site Axios that “Digit will pick up anything a person would handle. Think of things that are bigger than a small box but smaller than a giant bag of dog food.”
Other tech companies such as Tesla, and a startup called Figure, have previously built humanoid robots for their own logistics work, while Sanctuary AI recently launched a new version of the robot at a Mark’s retail store in Canada, albeit with heels and feet. With no, a humanoid robot was deployed.
But agility comes from being the first to bring a product to market.
Amazon, which has developed several non-humanoid robots for logistics and delivery work, has also invested in agility.
The goal of developing these humanoid robots is to address labor shortages and perform jobs that people find boring, dangerous or repetitive.
But according to Agility’s chief technology officer, Jonathan Hurst, building a robot that mimics human movements is a major challenge. He added, “With other form factors, it’s very difficult to be multipurpose”.
Digit is set to be delivered in 2025, but Agility says the robot’s development will be determined by a partnership program, with potential customers shaping Digit’s skills and capabilities.
Amazon Sidewalk, the device that existed primarily to send motion notifications to Ring cameras or help Level smart locks connect to the internet, is now open to any developer looking to build a connected device.
Amazon Sidewalk was first announced in 2019 as a low-power, wide-area network (LPWAN) designed to be used as a replacement for expensive LTE or 5G connectivity on gadgets, including Doesn’t require a lot of data.
But now, Amazon wants others to make devices that use the network for free.
All you need is a test kit, which is a small gray wireless device with Ring branding. The kit will gauge whether connectivity is sufficient in the area you want to deploy your product, and you can start building.
According to an article in The Verge, consumer IoT devices that could benefit from Sidewalk include dog trackers, package trackers, soil moisture sensors, leak sensors, weather stations or anywhere that doesn’t have Wi-Fi.
Cloud giant Rackspace Technology has begun a restructuring process as it grapples with a slowdown in cloud computing growth.
The shakeup is set to reduce 4 per cent of the company’s headcount.
Like many other tech companies accelerating major cuts, Rackspace blames economic conditions, such as high inflation and high interest rates as well as the war in Ukraine and supply chain issues for the job cuts.
And it contained more or less the same ‘soothing’ words we’ve heard so many times now – ‘We know this is a difficult time for you, the news is concerning but the company is very grateful for your continued hard work and support.’
Affected employees in the US are currently being notified and those overseas have already been notified on Monday.
Along with the cuts, the company also shared plans to “align” cost structure to revenue and bookings, and restructure operations to improve efficiencies.
The company reported a loss from operations of $679 million in calendar 2022 on revenue of $3.1 billion.
It used to compete directly with the big cloud providers but now helps customers provide multi-cloud consultancy services. It also provides fully managed hosting services and other such solutions.
But companies may soon have another scapegoat to lay off – artificial intelligence
According to economists at Goldman Sachs, 300 million full-time jobs worldwide could be automated in some way by the latest wave of AI.
Globally, it has affected 18 per cent of the work.
Economists said administrative staff and lawyers are likely to be worst affected.
While physically demanding jobs or outdoor occupations like construction and repair work will be least affected.
However, economists note that technological innovations that initially displace workers historically also create jobs in the longer term.
Also, the widespread adoption of AI could improve productivity and increase global GDP by 7 percent.
Apple will now lend money directly to users with the limited launch of its new Apple Pay Letter service.
We first heard about the service in 2021. Then in June 2022 it was officially announced at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference.
Facing multiple delays, it only debuted on iOS 16 last September.
Users can apply for loans in amounts ranging from $50 to $1000 – but they will only be able to spend the loaned money with merchants (online or otherwise) that accept Apple Pay.
When users initiate a loan, Apple conducts a soft credit check before making the offer. The payment plan then appears on the user’s device.
Another screen within the Wallet app also allows users to track their loan balances and future payments on a calendar.
The loan repayment will be divided into four payments, and users will have six weeks to pay off the loan without interest.
Payment needs to be made by debit card.
Apple says the new service will be made available to everyone in the coming months.
Source: Ars Technica
Twitter has yet another policy that fits oddly with Elon Musk’s lofty promise to protect freedom of expression.
Starting April 15, Twitter will block unverified accounts from appearing in Recommended Tweets.
This means that only posts from paid Twitter Blue accounts will appear on the platform’s Recommended Tweets.
In a tweet announcing the policy, Musk said, “This is the only realistic way to handle advanced AI bot swarms. It’s otherwise a hopeless losing battle.”
But Twitter seems to have amended this policy after user backlash. Musk tweeted later in the day that “the accounts you follow directly will also be there for you, because you explicitly asked for them.”
Bots have been the scourge of the platform since the initial launch of paid blue checkmarks, which were being used to impersonate businesses, celebrities, and other high-profile individuals.
Then, in December last year, Twitter relaunched its Twitter Blue subscription, which you can get by paying $8. But Twitter Blue subscribers only receive a blue checkmark next to their name after their phone number and account are reviewed.
Musk said that paid verification significantly increases the cost of using bots and makes them easier to identify.
Just months after his acquisition, the platform is now valued at $20 billion, less than half of the $44 billion Musk paid for the company last year.
That’s the top tech news for today. Hashtag Trending airs five days a week with daily tech news and we have a special weekend edition where we do an in-depth interview with an expert on some of the tech developments that are making the news.
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I’m your host, James Roy, have an exciting Thursday!