I wrote an article for the TechNyou website looking at the current state of robotics and the potential future for robots and humanity (yes I am talking about a robot apocalypse).
For those unaware, TechNyou was established and funded by the Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE) to meet a growing community need for balanced and factual information on emerging technologies. TechNyou raises awareness and engages the public on emerging technologies and their associated issues, for example GM foods, stem cells, genetic testing, gene therapy, cloning and nanotechnologies, focusing on teachers and their students.
Since I wrote the article, there have been even more advances in robotics, including:
The awesome: Robot Dubstep Dispute (video) (yes, I know it’s an animation, it’s just too cool not to include)
The cute: Baby robot learning to speak
The amazing: Insect robots self recovering (make sure you watch the video halfway down the page)
The advances are somewhat breathtaking, so make sure you check back here and the TechNyou blog in a week or so for part 2, to find out whether we need to start planning for our future robot overlords!
They are looking to improve from ASIMO’s 1 hour of battery life to a full 7 days of power, which would be an extraordinary improvement. DARPA are talking about getting better battery performance by making more efficient actuators, thus drawing less power from the battery, allowing it to last longer. This could be a viable incremental increase, but I doubt it will provide the 200X improvement in battery life. If anyone can do it DARPA can.
I note with interest that DARPA suggest that “companies developing proposals may need to take inspiration from the biological world”. This is called “biomimetics” and will be the the topic of upcoming articles. There are already biomimetic robots drawing their inspiration from spiders, dogs, insects and more.
Stay tuned, it’s gonna get exciting!
The end of 2011 brought me a gift – 2 gifts in hindsight, but more about that later. My first gift was the birth of my beautiful son, born a few weeks early – poorly timed because I was reaching the culmination of a year’s work. The Australian Institute of Management (AIM), the membership association I worked for, was about to move into a new property that had been a large part of my every waking minute for the past 12 months. As operational project manager for the new AIM property in Civic, I had become fully immersed and consumed by the $3million dollar project. If I had understood just how complex it was going to be, I may have politely declined the job.
Here are some highlights of the project:
- the successful development and bid for a half million dollar government grant
- the research and design of a completely bespoke and innovative space
- an organisational rebranding
- an organisational restructure
- the creation of some of the finest training and conference facilities in Canberra, delivering some of the best vocational training in Australia
- the best management library in Canberra, supported by the best management knowledge centre in Australia
- a superb membership lounge, meeting rooms, video-conferencing facilities
- a café, servicing members, training participants and the general public
- launching a space that creates a paradigm shift for AIM, mirroring the innovative developments happening in training, membership and across the organisation
This project involved dozens and dozens of people, hundreds of variables, and thousands of decisions, something I never would have imagined at the outset. You can check out some great photos of the property on AIMs Facebook page.
My son Max’s birth came right at the pointy end of this project. I attended his birth and was immediately reacquainted with a perspective on life that only seems to emerge when I have some space, time and a little perspective. (yes I know I just ventured into pop philosophy – forgive me)
If you haven’t guessed already, my second gift was leaving AIM. AIM is an amazing organisation. Born pre-World War 2 and blooming after, it defined and developed a skill that is still misunderstood and poorly supported, even by those who should know better. I will be writing an article on this later, but for now, back to my unemployment.
I joined AIM in August 2005, starting in the membership and events management role. It was a small office with about half a dozen staff delivering services to the 1200 or so AIM members, organisations and broader community. My first big job at AIM was to organise the AV for the new premises – we were moving from Deakin to Barton. Nearly 7 years later, I left AIM after another move. On the numbers, I left AIM a stronger organisation and I am proud of my achievements, although as with all things I left some things unfinished.
Over the course of my time at AIM, I was lucky enough to be able to work and learn across the business. AIM is Australia’s leading management association and on its mission to “build better managers and leaders for a better society”, delivers many different but associated services, including: learning and development, events, research & thought leadership, library and bookshop services, coaching, mentoring… The list goes on, and although I am beginning to sound like an ad for AIM, I must stress that beyond my continuing membership, I am not affiliated with AIM, nor being paid or otherwise rewarded to write this.
So, I worked across the business, a huge benefit to being a member of a small team and a practice I can’t stress enough. If you have the opportunity to work cross functionally, do it. The added knowledge of the business and the added skills you will attain are invaluable to both bettering your decisions in your job and furthering your career afterwards. My personal belief is that the increasing focus on specialisation is a detriment to growth and development, and I’m not the only one to think this! This great HBR article by Vikram Mansharamani and amazing RSA Animate drive home how specialisation can stifle innovation, but again, I will save this discussion for another day.
In my next post, I’ll continue my journey and look at what happened when the GFC hit in 2008.