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  • (shrill electronic music)

  • [Narrator] Conventional wisdom these days

  • says that robots will soon put millions

  • of factory workers out of jobs.

  • (playful electronic music)

  • This may sound like the fever dream of Dr. Evil,

  • but in fact, there are very pleasant people

  • making this happen.

  • May I introduce Suzanne Gildert?

  • A budding AI overlord and founder

  • of Toronto startup Kindred AI.

  • (playful electronic music)

  • Tell me about these guys.

  • So these are research prototypes.

  • So they're some of the first robots we built at Kindred.

  • (mechanical sounds)

  • We tend to work with small robots.

  • It's a bit like if you imagine a child growing up,

  • and it breaks a lot of things.

  • Now imagine if the child was six feet tall

  • when it had the brain of a six month old.

  • It would be terribly dangerous.

  • How many of these robots have ever slapped you?

  • I have been hit in the face by robots a couple of times.

  • (laughs)

  • Suzanne seems nice enough.

  • (upbeat electronic music)

  • She makes exotic digital art

  • and she loves cats to the point where she's built

  • a robotic fleet of them for the office.

  • This one, I believe, is called Pinkfoot.

  • It's a quadruped robot loosely based on a cat anatomy,

  • although it's not a very highly faithful representation yet.

  • When you were growing up you would build things as well?

  • Yeah, that's correct. Yeah.

  • So I was really enthralled by electronics at an early age.

  • I guess most little girls would be

  • looking at trays of beads and things,

  • and I was looking at trays of resistors

  • and capacitors and little components,

  • but having the same kind of reaction to them.

  • But don't be fooled

  • by the hobby electronics and the cute cat bots.

  • Suzanne is a keen businesswoman.

  • And Kindred has recently embarked

  • on its first commercial venture.

  • (mechanical whirring)

  • What's going on here is that we have a bank of robots

  • that are learning, so they are continuously running,

  • picking up objects.

  • These would run all day?

  • All day, all night.

  • ("Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy")

  • Powered by state of the art AI,

  • these arms can do something that's very easy for a human,

  • but very hard for a bot.

  • Pick up objects of different shapes and put them down.

  • Most factories still use people

  • to do that sort of thing, lots and lots of people.

  • Today everyone's shopping on e-commerce,

  • thousands and thousands of different types of objects,

  • shapes, textures, weights.

  • How do you pick that up?

  • Right now it's human, so you have millions of humans

  • in warehouses just picking up things

  • and putting it into another location.

  • So we're teaching our robots how to do that.

  • (mechanical whirring sound)

  • What's the hard part, is it figuring out what's a belt?

  • What's a shirt?

  • Or it's just, how to grasp it?

  • Yeah, exactly.

  • It's very hard to pick it up, right?

  • So things will show up in any shape, right?

  • And you gotta figure out how to pick it up

  • without dropping it, put it in the location,

  • so it takes a lot of training.

  • Part of that training involves,

  • of all things, humans.

  • Robot pilots who manually control the arms while the AI

  • watches and learns the finer points of grabbing.

  • Alright man, teach me how to use this thing.

  • Alright, have a seat.

  • So you see a 3D mouse here, this lets you navigate

  • the arm through three-dimensional space.

  • So imagine you're holding the arm in that left hand

  • and you're just moving it around.

  • Move it slowly, gently.

  • There you go.

  • Trying to get the Oreos, I gotta go up.

  • Oh shoot, I went too far up.

  • I want these Oreos.

  • (Host groans)

  • (Host and George laugh)

  • You lose.

  • (Host and George laugh)

  • Come back to me, arm.

  • There. Success.

  • (playful electronic music)

  • It's like being at an arcade.

  • Basically.

  • But you actually get to win something.

  • Exactly.

  • (Host and George laugh)

  • Just down the hall, Kindred keeps a room

  • full of pilots doing the same thing as me.

  • Only these guys are actually competent.

  • They're remotely overseeing some arms in a Gap factory

  • 1,000 miles away in Tennessee.

  • How long have you been a robot pilot?

  • Just over a month, actually.

  • I've only been here five weeks.

  • What was the training process like?

  • Almost like playing a video game.

  • It's like a shirt gun?

  • That's a backpack.

  • That's a backpack, okay.

  • (Sai laughs)

  • Somebody's undies?

  • Oh, there it goes.

  • Yeah, one shirt at a time.

  • (Host and Sai laugh)

  • (mysterious chiming music)

  • As the arms observe their human guides,

  • they gradually learn how to do better

  • at picking up T-shirts and shoe boxes.

  • Eventually, they'll be fully autonomous

  • and Sai's services will no longer be required.

  • One day, this is just gonna light up

  • and it's going to be picking the objects all the time.

  • Pretty much, pretty much.

  • That's the ultimate end goal, at least for these

  • to have it just constantly whirring and going.

  • (robot arm whirring)

  • And the people will be free.

  • The people will be free to do other more important things.

  • (Host and Sai laugh)

  • Sai seemed kind of happy

  • about the prospect of unemployment.

  • But I was concerned for his future.

  • (mechanical whirring sound)

  • Isn't there something grim about the human

  • training their end?

  • Yeah, it's not good to take people's jobs away,

  • but this kind of technology coming into the workforce

  • should make us start thinking about how we're

  • going to pay people in the future.

  • Because AI is not just going to automate manual labor jobs.

  • It's going to automate things like doctors

  • and lawyers and accountants very soon.

  • So I think there's gonna be issues.

  • There's gonna be a lot of disruption

  • when these things come online.

  • Suzanne is a realist,

  • but she's also an optimist.

  • In her vision of the future,

  • robots won't be mindless competitors to humanity.

  • They'll be full-fledged citizens like the rest of us.

  • One of the crazy ideas that I see you talk about

  • was you've got a robot and it's working in a factory

  • and then it's gotta go, maybe it gets paid a wage

  • and it goes to buy lithium ion batteries to keep it going.

  • Why would that have to happen?

  • I mean, through having a physical body,

  • they will have a lot of physical needs just like we have.

  • You might have to go to their repair shop

  • to get a motor looked at or something like that

  • and they'll have to pay someone to do that.

  • I think they'll just be contributing to our economy

  • in the same way we do.

  • (mechanical whirring)

  • And if they have brains like us, they'll want

  • to explore new things they've never seen before.

  • They'll want to learn things, they'll want to perhaps rest

  • so that their mind has time to consolidate

  • all this new information.