Episode 84: Steve opens with his adventure getting his motorcycle suspension tuned and tailored to his weight. Ben introduces the 2022 Oxford dictionary word of the year, then transitions to ultrasonic propulsion, and then the superiority of WiFi 6 over 5G. Stephen applauds Microsoft for testing the Earth’s oceans as a home for our D-waste. Benjamin thinks robot dogs will make great firefighters, but then Steve closes with a controversial soapbox rant about why robots are better for firefights.
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Benjamin Moses: Hello everyone. Welcome to AMTs Tech Trends Podcast where we discuss the latest manufacturing technology, research and news. I am the Director of Technology, Benjamin Moses, and today's episode is sponsored by AM Radio and I'm here with-
Stephen LaMarca: Stephen LaMarca Technology Analyst.
Benjamin Moses: Steve, how you're doing today?
Stephen LaMarca: Doing great. Dude, buttery smooth intro. That was amazing.
Benjamin Moses: I've been working on it for the past few years. I don't know if you noticed.
Stephen LaMarca: Oh man, that's impressive.
Benjamin Moses: So before we get into some articles, we've been doing some stuff on our own. I know you've been doing some self analysis.
Stephen LaMarca: Well, not self analysis, but so I'm a big fan of maintenance. I love me some good maintenance, but seeing as I don't have a machine tool to maintain-
Benjamin Moses: Oh, you have one.
Stephen LaMarca: Well, I mean I have one, but it's bulletproof and nothing ever goes wrong and frankly it's brand new. It hasn't seen and made enough chips yet. But what has made enough chips, well, in a certain way-
Benjamin Moses: Not in a good way.
Stephen LaMarca: My vehicles. I recently, well actually a while ago now, I did something really fun and had the suspension on my motorcycle adjusted for me and my weight.
Benjamin Moses: Nice.
Stephen LaMarca: So Japanese motorcycle, probably designed for... Well the designers and team of engineers that made it and conceived it, probably didn't have somebody as big and as heavy as me in mind when they set up the suspension.
Benjamin Moses: So like air airplane seats?
Stephen LaMarca: Exactly. Exactly. Well for any American for that matter. But fortunately a lot of, not necessarily premium but nicer, bigger engine motorcycles typically have fully adjustable suspensions. Mine is, figured I've got 2,500 miles on it now, it's probably a good idea to have it adjusted to my weight and size and whatnot. I've adjusted other things for my size and fit, but let's do the suspension. And the suspension to be fair is already great. But when you pay for a fully adjustable suspension, why not have it fully adjusted to you? And I did and crazy enough, so I take it to this shop, guy's been doing it for 30 years. He knows what he's doing and he's like, "We need to increase the rear suspension to", I think he said something like 0.95 newton meters per kilogram.
Benjamin Moses: Oh, the spring rate. So he is actually just [inaudible 00:02:58].
Stephen LaMarca: Spring rate for that and adjust the preload. Adjust the bound and rebound or compression and rebound of the actual shock absorber, the dampers and do the front fork as well because if you do the rear, you have to do the front. And what's crazy is he's measuring everything, he's measuring it with the bike by itself, measuring it with me on the bike and making these adjustments. And he's stiffening everything up. He's making it stiffer and I'm like, "Oh geez, he's really cranking this thing up". And it's already a pretty stiff suspension when I ride it around. Well it's certainly stiffer than other motorcycles I've ridden. And I haven't exactly ridden like a track bike before. And this is a sportier bike, but he's turning up the stiffness and the ratios on everything. And I'm just like, dude, this ride is going to be, it's going to be riding for Baghdad, hitting bumps and stuff.
Benjamin Moses: You going to feel everything.
Stephen LaMarca: And he is like, "All right, take it for a spin around the block or two". And I take it out and it is on a cloud really. I'm like, how did this happen? And I come back and oh, I reach for the breaks to come to a complete stop at a stop sign and the brakes are more grabby. And I'm like, this makes no sense. It makes no sense. We adjusted the suspension, we made it stiffer. Why does it feel softer? And how does adjusting the suspension make the brakes feel better?
And he explained all the physics to me and it made sense.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. Its realigned.
Stephen LaMarca: He's just like, she's well by stiffening suspension for your weight, which is heavier than what they anticipated, sure now the suspension doesn't travel as fast, doesn't travel as far and it is firmer, but now when you hit larger bumps, it doesn't bottom out. So the suspension can work fully and fully absorb bumps when you hit them, as opposed to absorbing some little bumps at slow speeds. It can now fully absorb large bumps at slow speeds and little bumps at high speeds and you won't feel it.
Benjamin Moses: That's cool.
Stephen LaMarca: Well you can feel it, but you won't feel it in a negative way. And because the front is tightened up, now the front doesn't dive as much under breaking so the brakes feel stronger for that reason.
Benjamin Moses: That's cool.
Stephen LaMarca: It's simple Newtonian mechanics.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. I actually do enjoy vehicle dynamics. I started a little bit dynamics in school and understanding suspension settings. It's a very interesting course and also reminds me of my first car that I bought, 2001 Volkswagen Golf. And after of course the warranty died down, I said, let's start modifying this thing that it's something very similar. I looked at suspension first and then I modified. I went to a cup series where it's a set of stiffer shocks and springs and lowering kit a little bit. And I kept the same size tires. And of course when you lower the car with a little 15-inch little guy tires, every time I went over speed bump, I definitely scraped the oil pad.
Stephen LaMarca: Oh my God.
Benjamin Moses: So every time I'm changing the oil, I'm trying to get that plug out, I'm like, oh, there's more scratches on there.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. Oh man, that's brutal. That's really scary.
Benjamin Moses: It's not fun.
Stephen LaMarca: So sadly, I'm still a user of Facebook and I'm on some groups in there and one of the groups I'm with is for other people that own a similar car to me. Either BRZ or FRS or 86, what have you. They're all the same. They're all made by Subaru and paid for by Toyota. But a lot of people like to lower those. 'Cause they're all kids that.
Benjamin Moses: And it's funny, it is a cascade series of events. Because at some point the aluminum oil pan was just getting so beat up that I guess either selling after-
Stephen LaMarca: Aluminum.
Benjamin Moses: I went to a steel pan which is actually shorter so I had to have the oil pans changed-
Stephen LaMarca: Didn't that one have baffles in it so you could corner better?
Benjamin Moses: No, no it's a Golf.
Stephen LaMarca: Wasn't fancy?
Benjamin Moses: No, no.
Stephen LaMarca: But those are sporty cars.
Benjamin Moses: Not 2001. It's not the GTi. It was just a four door Golf.
Stephen LaMarca: Oh, gotcha.
Benjamin Moses: It had the cool engine and it had the 1.8 turbo but not the... It was four door.
Stephen LaMarca: Gotcha.
Benjamin Moses: And then I put a racing seat in there. I almost forget that. But it was so much fun. We took a couple of long road trips like driving to the Tail of the Dragon, which is like eight hours and eight hour in a racing seat, non-adjustable racing seat too. Luckily I did that in my youth. I would not do that now.
Stephen LaMarca: Wow. Yeah. As cool as racing seats are like don't get me wrong, I think they are awesome. I'm kind and glad I haven't gone to one.
Benjamin Moses: And I did have a harness, I had a seatbelt, the three point, the standard seat belt and a racing harness in there. So once I got on the ,ail I did wear the harness and being pinned into your seat, not moving around. It's an amazing experience.
Stephen LaMarca: There's a cheat to do that. It's not exactly the same thing. Well, it's far from the same thing. But I tell Melissa whenever we go on a mountain road that's really windy and we're definitely going to take it harder, pull your seatbelt all the way out. Pull it all the way out and then let it go in. And that's a thing that's a feature of that all seat belts of any car have that not a lot of people think about and even know what it's for. But it is, I don't know if it's for securing luggage-
Benjamin Moses: Oh, I know what you mean.
Stephen LaMarca: But it actually works best when you're doing some spirited driving, 'cause it doesn't let you, especially in long high G corners that don't gradually get to a high G, it doesn't allow you to swing out of the way. It doesn't pull you out of the way because when you pull the seatbelt all the way out and then let it go back in, it's locked. So it doesn't come out anymore until you unbuckle the seatbelt.
Benjamin Moses: Oh that's cool. That's a good hack.
Stephen LaMarca: It's a really cool hack. Yeah. Not a lot of people know about it but it is great. I don't think a lot of people understand how important a good seat is. For keeping you in place.
Benjamin Moses: Oh yeah.
Stephen LaMarca: You don't just get a racing seat because it looks cool or it's lightweight. It's like they are designed to hold you in place. Even when I got in my car, when the car first came out and I sat down in it and it was like wow, this makes me feel really insecure. I can feel love handles going all the way up and down my body. And the reason is because it's cradling you to hold you in place while you go around corners really hard.
Benjamin Moses: Steve, let's pivot to the word of the year.
Stephen LaMarca: Word of the year, goblin mode.
Benjamin Moses: Speaking of racing, I thought goblin mode would be a good fit in that's-
Stephen LaMarca: The Oxford Dictionary officially announced a couple days ago that the 2022 word of the year is goblin mode.
Benjamin Moses: Have you ever used that in a sentence?
Stephen LaMarca: No. But I've heard the youth use it. I assume it's like lit or it's kind of mid for real.
Benjamin Moses: Something that people 20 years younger than me would say.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. Keep it a stack on God.
Benjamin Moses: I appreciate that. That's going to look great in the transcript by the way.
Stephen LaMarca: I feel bad for the transcriber.
Benjamin Moses: Steve, you want to tell us about our sponsor for today?
Stephen LaMarca: Our sponsor for today, AM Radio is the new podcast from Additive Manufacturing Media. Join editors, Pete Zelinski, Stephanie Hendrickson and Julia Heider as they share stories of companies succeeding with 3D printing today, talk about emerging trends and discuss the future opportunities and potential for AM in the context of the larger manufacturing landscape. New episodes are published every other week. Subscribe now on Apple or wherever you listen to podcast. Tune into Additive.
Benjamin Moses: Thanks, Steve.
Stephen LaMarca: You bet.
Benjamin Moses: I got a couple articles here and the first one I want to get to is from Science Daily and it's actually, I think it's published from one of their nature communication journals. And it's a weird tangent, but what they derive from here is researchers use ultrasound wave to move objects hands free, which is interesting. Hands free is-
Stephen LaMarca: Use ultrasonic sound waves to move objects. So this brings two things to mind.
Benjamin Moses: Sure.
Stephen LaMarca: Number one, acoustics.
Benjamin Moses: Yes.
Stephen LaMarca: And well number one is two companies. Acoustics in our industry, the people that did the machine tool spindle that vibrates at an ultrasonic frequency for cooling or I don't know, some reason was really cool. Same guy that made that patent for acoustics. I've mentioned this before. The same patent actually is now used by Fabrisonic to use ultrasonic waves to weld sheets of metal together. It's the type of additive manufacturing now.
Benjamin Moses: Yep. Yep.
Stephen LaMarca: That's really cool.
Benjamin Moses: That's really cool. [inaudible 00:12:03]
Stephen LaMarca: So also ultrasonic, does that mean super high frequencies?
Benjamin Moses: Super high frequencies. We can get into the frequency reigns that they're looking at, but it's-
Stephen LaMarca: I want to hear about it.
Benjamin Moses: We can, but it gets into the energy behind that. And the article covers a lot of different things. The research was done from Minnesota Twin City. Twin City researchers discovered a new method to move objects using ultrasound. And what they're interested in is contactless manipulation. And they're really looking for applications like optics and electromagnetic application like drives and things like that. So it's a smaller market segment I think, but it's a very interesting applications 'cause what they're doing, and I need to get into a little bit more but because it's fairly fascinating and the article also gets to they've known that they can use light and sound to move objects. That's been around for a while. I think they've done it on the particle level using light to move stuff.
Stephen LaMarca: Gotcha.
Benjamin Moses: But now they're trying to expand that concept up into larger objects. So that's why they're looking at optics-
Stephen LaMarca: You just buy an awful sound system.
Benjamin Moses: Exactly.
Stephen LaMarca: That's too much sub base. Now that's subsonic to be fair.
Benjamin Moses: So it's a combination of the source, so the ultrasound itself, but also they're looking at possibly coupling what they want to move with meta materials too. So they're using meta materials on outside to help move stuff using ultrasound as an energy source to actuate the meta materials for manipulation of the objects.
Stephen LaMarca: Or a non-Newtonian material. You can activate it or deactivate it with ultrasonic sound waves, stuff that we won't hear. So it's not like it'll bother you. That's really cool.
Benjamin Moses: So it's very interesting look at being able to moving this object around. And they're looking at very precise movement too. So it's not like they can move it across the room 'cause that energy level will be outrageously high and probably kill someone getting in that way. But realistically-
Stephen LaMarca: Sure. Shattered glass.
Benjamin Moses: They're looking at very small and very accurate manipulation of these objects. So you could have, and I've seen that quite a bit. So a couple years ago I looked at Disney actually doing animatronics research on coupling pneumatics and electromagnetic drives for animatronics and that cascades into robotics. The reason they're looking at that is the speed and efficiency of coupling both those twos to mimic human motion. 'Cause if you had just electromagnetic drive, it's going to be a little slower but hematic drives a little faster in some scenarios. So they couple those two. So I think this is another progression in robotics where we're seeing energy sources being added to robotics or changing how robotics manipulate objects quite a bit. Now the scenario into manufacturing, obviously going to have some limitations, but being able to manipulate objects with different end of arm tooling is also a big shift in the market too. So I thought it was very interesting article.
Stephen LaMarca: That is really cool. You said you had the frequency measurements in front of you. Do you know what-
Benjamin Moses: No I don't.
Stephen LaMarca: Okay. 'Cause I know when you hear a really awful sound system and that has way too much sub base, that sub base frequencies are coming from the sub woofer speaker and sub woofers typically operate in the five to 10 hertz range.
Benjamin Moses: Sure. Not bad-
Stephen LaMarca: So that's subsonic. A lot of people can hear below 10 hertz, but it's almost unanimously agreed upon that nobody can hear below five hertz. But going below five hertz is when you get really annoying, windows rattling and stuff in your house or apartment. If you're one of those people that likes to annoy your neighbors, that's when you make really annoying rattling around your house. That's that your sub base range, 10 hertz and below. The really highs. Well first off speakers, I just want to bring up this really fun and cute thing real quick. So for good balance sound, you want two types of speakers on each channel. For your mid to lows or mids to base, you want a woofer. And for your mids to highs, you want a tweeter. If you want even more lows, you get a sub woofer. And if you want even more highs and really sharp and piercing or airy, sparkly and bright highs, you will get a super tweeter speaker. But what gets right in the middle of the perfect mids, do you know what that speaker's called?
Benjamin Moses: No.
Stephen LaMarca: A squawker.
Benjamin Moses: A squawker.
Stephen LaMarca: I just learned that the other day.
Benjamin Moses: That's interesting. I never heard of that. And I've researched speakers for quite a while, so thanks Steve.
Stephen LaMarca: You bet.
Benjamin Moses: I learned goblin mode and squawker. The next-
Stephen LaMarca: Here's a word.
Benjamin Moses: The next article I have is controversial. So this is from Elektor Magazine. It's actually, they published a white paper so you have to input your info to get the full white paper. And I thought it was a good look. And the stance I'm taking from this is, it's similar to the stance we've been taking in general. 5G is cool, 5G cellular communication's cool. But we're still get manufacturing. If you want faster speeds and you want to be able to keep up with technology as it's progressing, look at Wi-Fi six.
Stephen LaMarca: I didn't even know that existed.
Benjamin Moses: Wi-Fi is your wireless communication. The word itself, Wi-Fi doesn't mean anything. That's an actual fact, it's just a name that they wanted to call the standard. So Wi-Fi, they've gone through several progressions, four when it looks at 2.4 gigahertz and five gigahertz and then they went to Wi-Fi five, which is mainly five gigahertz and now they've gone to Wi-Fi six and it's still 2.4 and five. But what they've done is they're increasing the speed and the bandwidth within the different standards.
Stephen LaMarca: And voice [inaudible 00:17:54], what a little nerd.
Benjamin Moses: And the reason I bring this up is we've gone through our own migration here. So we update our network infrastructure here a little while ago and taking a step back to look at how do companies keep up with technology, especially infrastructure technology. So cellular communication is not easy to keep up with. Especially, I mean even if you talking about scale, it's crazy even trying to keep up with your phone. It's one, I keep my phones longer than I should but it depends on your strategy. So for me, I go to, it's actually end of life, the company says we're not supporting the OS anymore. So that's probably the seven-year range, five to seven year range. But realistically by the time new things are being published, so even if you don't buy the latest and greatest, realistically you're looking at maybe two to three year cycle on that type of device.
Stephen LaMarca: Yes. That's the ideal range.
Benjamin Moses: And if you look that to you in your laptops just in your own infrastructure, our warranty period is roughly two to three years. So after warranty then you're taking risk of-
Stephen LaMarca: We get a new laptop every three years.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. We've been shifting to a two to three year timeframe for laptops. So even leases for laptop are roughly that timeframe, maybe four years at the most. The data infrastructure is going to be along the same lines. We're seeing a progression of faster throughput on networks. So we're seeing 2.5 gig speeds on network structures, five gigs and now 10 gigs is coming fairly commercially available. And that's over standard cat cable, obviously it's Cat six. My friend Scott had a-
Stephen LaMarca: Cat 6e.
Benjamin Moses: I have to see what's standard, but I think he had a friend who's moving back to Korea and for some reason had Cat eight cable.
Stephen LaMarca: Wow.
Benjamin Moses: Did you know about CAT eight?
Stephen LaMarca: I did not. That's cool.
Benjamin Moses: I don't know what speeds that are. He must be doing something interesting, but back to the point of technology progression. So if you are using wireless communication on your floor for wireless like AMRs, you've got a ton of traffic that where you do have true wireless devices or even communicating through tablets or other communication devices on the floor, it still makes sense to try and keep up with more Wi-Fi six because I feel like the Wi-Fi standards changing your wireless access points is going to be easier than changing your cellular communications if you're using that on the floor.
Stephen LaMarca: Makes sense. Makes sense. And when we upgraded our network here in the office, I was like why are we doing this? Our Internet's always been awesome here. And Sean even asked that, our IT guy, asked that to the technician who was installing the new access ports, access terminals, whatever, the new browsers, the network hardware and the guy was just answered him and he was like, "Well, you wouldn't keep your phone more than two years, would you? Why would you expect your network hardware to perform for more than two years"? Especially with the evolution of these standards. I knew about 5G and I remember... It's funny how the tables have turned with 5G 'cause 5G comes out and everybody's like, "Oh yeah, this isn't for cellular service, this is for the industry. This isn't for consumers, this is for the industry. Go away. LTE is enough for you, 5G is for the industry". And now no 5G is for cellular service.
Benjamin Moses: For commercial.
Stephen LaMarca: Like you start using 5G, Wi-Fi six is for the industry. And I didn't know that. I've always wondered what does Wi-Fi mean? 'Cause you hear high-fi, that means high fidelity. What? Wi-Fi's wireless fidelity?
Benjamin Moses: No doesn't mean anything. It's just a word.
Stephen LaMarca: That's wack.
Benjamin Moses: Just a name like Benjamin.
Stephen LaMarca: Wack fidelity.
Benjamin Moses: Doesn't mean anything. And so moving on to the next article Steve, we've been talking about data. You got something on digital waste and Microsoft.
Stephen LaMarca: So speaking of all of this data, we need all these advanced networks because companies are making more data, whether it's for manufacturing or for it's advertising, there's more data being flung around the world and we need physical hardware, more than hardware but actual infrastructure buildings to support this slinging of data around. And-
Benjamin Moses: Real quick for the audience, look up the highest concentration data centers in the US and it's right down the street from where we're currently recording.
Stephen LaMarca: And it's really tough for people like me who would really love to stop paying rent and start paying a mortgage and owning lands to live. And I have to, instead of competing with other people my age or younger, I have to compete with data centers who have a lot more money than me by the way-
Benjamin Moses: Maybe.
Stephen LaMarca: Because data is doing great
Benjamin Moses: And it-
Stephen LaMarca: Data's doing great right now
Benjamin Moses: And it's really hard to understand the scale until you actually drive past one when it takes you... There's a couple highways I'll cut between where I live to further north and I pass all the data centers. You're doing like 40, 50 miles an hour on this road, probably a little faster according to speed limit. But it takes you several minutes to actually pass the length of the building. These aren't small buildings. So when you talk about land usage-
Stephen LaMarca: And they're really creepy because there's no windows on them.
Benjamin Moses: No windows, like two cars parked in front and a full security system. So it's pretty entertaining. At least for me.
Stephen LaMarca: It's ominous.
Benjamin Moses: 'Cause I bought a house already.
Stephen LaMarca: Thanks, Ben. But we've seen a few articles come up recently and I'll have to queue up the other one for the show notes. I have to find it. But there's a concern with all of the smog generated from big data and I saw an article a couple weeks ago about the infinite cloud isn't a thing. It is finite number one, but what is infinite is the amount of smog these data centers are producing to bring you as much content as possible. Whether it's advertising or something you actually want, which is wild to me. And you brought up, which had me bring in this article that Microsoft is doing something special with their data centers and not just special for data and the environment but also for me and Ben, what's the most awesome thing about the ocean? What's great about the ocean?
Benjamin Moses: You can pee in it.
Stephen LaMarca: It's the perfect place for e-waste and d-waste. Microsoft has experimented with putting data centers in the ocean.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah, that's cool.
Stephen LaMarca: They're only unsightly to scuba divers nerds. Yeah, good luck with the Ben's loser. And they're only unsightly to scuba divers and it's the perfect environment because you have a constant circulation of cooling.
Benjamin Moses: That's true.
Stephen LaMarca: And that's just really great to me because they're trying to keep land free.
Benjamin Moses: Land free and harvest natural cooling energy as opposed to trying to use coal or whatever the US energy sources around the US to cool these. That's probably the biggest thing. It's cooling of the electronics. And I thought that was a very good test too, and it's interesting the article that you see is them actually lifting the server back out into space and you can see everything on the outside just growing on it.
Stephen LaMarca: All the barnacles.
Benjamin Moses: All the barn, I love me some barnacles. So I thought it was a very fun experiment and very useful test on how do we repurpose the land we're living in.
Stephen LaMarca: I also really like that they came up with that term d-waste. And I'm only kidding about the ocean stuff. There's a huge problem. It's crazy that we have a land mass the size of Texas swirling around in our oceans that is essentially nothing but e-waste in our plastic garbage and throwing it in the ocean is not the solution. Throw it in space on the other hand, get it out there and we can do the same thing with data eventually.
Benjamin Moses: Launching toward the sun.
Stephen LaMarca: What do you think quantum entanglement is going to be implemented for? Putting all of our data in space.
Benjamin Moses: Now so the lesson learned that I have here is, the big takeaway here is that for me, if Microsoft's willing to experiment this, what can we do within our own office building to positive and work in the environment that we live in. So it's not just we work in a nine-story building, how can we positively influence the environment around us and not destroy it? And a lot of manufacturers are going to solar panels for energy usage and that strategy makes a lot of sense. But also they're still consuming a lot of water. They're still consuming a lot of cooling, they're still consuming a lot of energy around the facility. So energy usage has been the biggest shift. Can we get to solar? Can we get to turbine power? But also if we start taking a look at the different layers within the organization, what other ways can we harness the natural environment for energy reduction?
So that was a cool takeaway. I appreciate that. Microsoft and Steve.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, good job. Microsoft.
Benjamin Moses: The article I want to transition to is called Walk This Way, which I enjoy a good title pun.
Stephen LaMarca: Yes.
Benjamin Moses: This is published from Syracuse University, syracuse.edu. So it's official. And the New York City Fire Department made headlines of hiring two prize recruits. They didn't hire firefighters. Well I guess technically they did. But they purchased firefighters by buying two-
Stephen LaMarca: Slavery's wrong.
Benjamin Moses: Buying two Quadruped AMRs.
Stephen LaMarca: Oh robot dogs.
Benjamin Moses: Robot dogs. So it's a shift in... We been talking about Spot in different use cases from Boston Dynamics. I think they were using a different company for this, but it's a very interesting use case where they're still exploring AMRs to put those in places of danger where humans can avoid. So they're talking about crawling into class buildings to help identify and retrieve victims or injured people and detect radiological and nuclear materials in toxic gas.
So basically putting all kinds of sensors and say, "Hey Canary, is there something dangerous in this tunnel"? So I thought that was a very interesting straightforward article. And the reason I like the article is because it does talk about the development of new technology. So they do talk about the development of this at the university and how the trials and tribulations that walked through and the development cycle of earlier discussion of car dynamics. The first thing is, what are the dynamics of this AMR, of object? How does it move around? How does it articulates legs? And when it is moving, what is the motion dynamics of the object.
And we talked about high side versus low side as it moves around. So the motion dynamics and how the robot learns about itself and incorporating a lot of machine learning applications. So there's positive reinforcement on improving its efficiency and then getting to a practical application. So this guy developed this cool thing, now how am I going to use it in the world? I thought the article does a pretty good job of putting all that together and kicking it off with a very interesting use case 'cause I do like the ability of identifying places where humans are at danger and saying, "Oh we don't need a human there. Just put something else. Send a robot dog".
Stephen LaMarca: This is a perfect segue by the way. So it's awesome that the fire departments are doing this and it's good that they're doing this first because nobody ever has a problem with the firefighters.
Benjamin Moses: Sure.
Stephen LaMarca: Nobody's going to look at a firefighter and be like, "Oh you baby killer". No, they're saving babies and kitties out of trees and stuff like that. It's great. Maybe the dog robot dogs will be scaring the kittens into trees. But one thing that has popped into the news recently, San Francisco natives and locals are absolutely losing their minds, as they always do, about the San Francisco Police Department has announced that they are going to authorize police robots under certain circumstances, where there's no other option that can be used, the power of the use of deadly force.
Benjamin Moses: That's interesting 'cause I consider California a very human centric and this is exact opposite, to some degree.
Stephen LaMarca: Well you would think that, but to be fair, they're not the first ones to do it. There's a huge, in our industry, especially with the robot people, including Boston Dynamics and other people we know that we won't name, that are super anti weaponizing automation. And it is the dumbest and most immature take on it ever. Allow me to get on my soapbox.
Benjamin Moses: Oh boy.
Stephen LaMarca: Here's the thing. Let's go back to the main topic, the San Francisco Police Department. First off, calm down California. Trust me, Texas did it first.
Benjamin Moses: Of course.
Stephen LaMarca: Back in 2016, a solid six years ago, an active shooter in, I think Dallas, it doesn't matter, all Texas is the same, that's not true at all. But an active shooter somewhere in Texas near a university opens fire on crowds of protestors and police officers trying to maintain the protest. And this guy did not have any discretion. He's like, doesn't matter which side of the argument you're on, you're getting shot at. And this dude unloaded several hundred rounds of ammunition. By the time SWAT arrived, this guy retreated into a building that was under construction. I think it was a dorm.
So nobody was safe because bullets are going through that thin awful sheet rock of the dorm. And this guy retreated into this building that's under construction, down a long hallway with absolutely no cover down it. I'm no tactician, but this is called the fatal funnel, meaning the SWAT officers to arrest this guy would have no other choice other than to throw themselves in harm's way to get advanced down this hall and be shot at. This would genuinely, without question, this would generate more loss of life. So obviously nobody wants to do that.
And they've got this guy cornered. They've got to stop this before the guy figures something else out to do to cause mayhem. So they can't just wait it out and wait for the guy to run out of food and die of hunger or something. They've got to go get him now. So what do they do? They get the EOD, the bomb division of their swat. And they have a robot and they do the opposite of what an EOD robot does. Instead of defusing a bomb, they put a bomb on the robot and send the robot down the hall. You can't shoot a robot to death. So the robot just advances down the hall, gets up close to the active shooter who's on the other side of a wall and they detonate the bomb and it neutralizes the threat. Happy ending.
This guy's taken care of and now they can do cleanup. It would not necessarily happy end, it's still awful-
Benjamin Moses: It's an ending.
Stephen LaMarca: But there's less awfulness with the way that this ended and it's just like get over yourself. In some ways, arming a robot means that there's going to be less loss of life and this whole childish mentality of we shouldn't weaponize automation, one of my favorite counterarguments to this is, what do you think a heat-seeking missile is? What do you think an AIM-9 X is? That's a suicide drone with a rocket pack.
Benjamin Moses: That's true.
Stephen LaMarca: A heat seeking missile. The pilot of a fighter jet locks onto another fighter jet. Or if it's an AGM, an air to ground munition, there's soldiers on the ground, they target a tank. That tank is moving and rolling around causing mayhem to the soldiers and the air support gets a lock from the ground troops and they fire an AGM and before anti-air can shoot down that plane, they get out of there because it's fire and forget. That missile is an automated munition that was programmed by somebody to destroy something. It's all it is, is just a drone that has a job to get from point A to point B and it's just carrying an explosive charge. Or in some case of the brimstone, doesn't have an explosive charge at all 'cause it's that accurate.
Benjamin Moses: It's kinetic.
Stephen LaMarca: It's just kinetic. And it has a rocket booster. It's a really fast suicide drone. And that is weaponized automation. And let's think about automation in the beginning. If you go back to the American Precision Museum, one of my favorite places to visit in the American manufacturing industry, it shows that not the assembly line, but automated manufacturing, mass production began with the US Government making a request to speed up the production of small arms like muskets and rifles. And not only do that, but muskets and rifles at the time were made of all hand fit parts. You and I both know that's awful. It's an awful firearm. That's an awful platform to have everything hand fit. If something breaks, you need to be able to get another part in there as soon as possible with as little to no gunsmithing as possible. So the American Precision Museum, our industry was founded on the development of automating the manufacturing of small arms for the US Government.
Benjamin Moses: Sure. Sure.
Stephen LaMarca: Weaponizing automation, weaponizing robots is not the problem. Automation stemmed from making weapons.
Benjamin Moses: So the reason I appreciate both sides of the argument, 'cause I hear the manufactured designs, and this is not a new discussion.
Stephen LaMarca: It's not.
Benjamin Moses: This discussion occurred long time ago when-
Stephen LaMarca: Long before Terminator two-
Benjamin Moses: Large companies-
Stephen LaMarca: Skynet and cyber dying, it's not real. It's not coming for you.
Benjamin Moses: Large companies making a technology and they happen to be a defense or weaponization of this technology or use in defense or police forces. And it's an interesting take on it because it's the black and white discussion of it is, it's a technology and they don't want technology to be hurting people, which is fine. But one thing that there's two sides, and I appreciate your take on it, because I appreciate the view from California and the application in Texas that in the end it comes down to the human making decision to use that technology.
Stephen LaMarca: Yes.
Benjamin Moses: And I think we're missing that in the discussion of should we do this? And I think empowering the decision-making and holding the decision makers accountable, is something we're missing a lot-
Stephen LaMarca: Absolutely.
Benjamin Moses: And to your point of launching a rocket and forgetting, that comes down to the pilot and the human making that decision. And I think in the broader discussion of things we are losing sight of, we're very focused on the technology as opposed to there's still a human involved. There's still a human that says we need to do this thing. And what is the closed loop cycle for holding that human accountable or that process or system of humans involved in that thing? 'Cause we are talking about humans in dangerous, in extreme circumstances. The active shooter you mentioned in Texas and then we talking about earlier example of the fire department. Do you want a human to go in there with a sensor to see if there's nuclear waste or if there's toxic fumes when you can send a dog. So if you extract that to the police force, how do we hold the police force accountable for making the decisions? And I do see the argument of, well the humans outside the decision-making process, that's a little scary, but how do we move past that?
Stephen LaMarca: And you touch on the argument, well okay, maybe we need to defund the police. And it's like, no, nobody wants to defund the police because the people who want to defund the police are also the same people that are first to call the police. And there's no shame in that. What there is shame in is your message. What you want to do is demilitarize the police. Because what you're getting out of saying defunding is because police departments, the idea is that they think police departments are spending all of their money on buying toys instead of buying training. Because they're not the military.
Benjamin Moses: And I think-
Stephen LaMarca: Their job is to protect and serve, not patrol and secure.
Benjamin Moses: And I think we're stretching a little bit of our conversation from technology. And I do think there's a-
Stephen LaMarca: But I'm getting back to it. I swear to God.
Benjamin Moses: There is a cultural aspect about training and the ethics of technologies. And there has been a lot of discussions on artificial intelligence and ethics also. And there is a lot of, when you're training a model, an AI model or machine learning model, there's automatically biases built into that. And there's a huge environment of ethics and technology. And to be honest, to your point, Steve, I think where we're seeing is a shift into the conversation of ethics in technology a little bit more.
Stephen LaMarca: And why I'm so supportive of technology is because a police officer whose job is to protect and serve, isn't the job of a soldier to patrol and secure. They're not trained the same way as military. Although in some cases they should be. And in some cases they are like SWAT. But when it comes to your standard police officer that isn't necessarily trained for a combat situation, a lot of the things that the police get in trouble for is because they are acting on fear. They are fearful of their lives, of their livelihood, of dying. And if you take that equation out, which you can do that by putting the person behind a computer in a robot in the place instead, then there's no risk to a robot being damaged or destroyed other than money. There's not a loss of human life. Then the person who's controlling said robot can be more careful, can be more... And that's what I think the de militarization is the better term than defunding. We don't want that.
Benjamin Moses: Steve, the second to last-
Stephen LaMarca: It got heavy.
Benjamin Moses: Second to last episode for the year got really heavy at the end there. You feel good?
Stephen LaMarca: I don't know. Listen... I don't, no, I'm not.
Benjamin Moses: Okay, we'll talk about it later. Yeah. Thanks everyone. I appreciate everyone.
Stephen LaMarca: What do you people think? Like, share, subscribe, and comment down below.
Benjamin Moses: Where can they find more info to yell at you about this episode?
Stephen LaMarca: Write your complaints on the back of a $100 bill and send it to 7901 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, Virginia 22102. No, but seriously, and for more information, you can learn and hear more rants, not quite like this at amtonline.org/resources.
Benjamin Moses: Thanks Steve.
Stephen LaMarca: Bye everybody.
Benjamin Moses: Have fun getting off your soapbox.
Stephen LaMarca: Don't hate me too much.