Hashtag Trending Mar.30th-Agility Robotics’ first-ever commercially-available humanoid robots, Amazon Sidewalk open to developers, Twitter punishes unverified accounts

First human-shaped robots commercially available, Amazon Sidewalk open to developers and Twitter to prevent unverified accounts from appearing in recommended tweets.

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These stories and more on Hashtag Trending for Thursday, March 30th

I’m your guest host for the week, James Roy – here’s today’s top tech news stories.

A company called Agility Robotics unveiled the first commercially-available human-shaped robots, designed to work in warehouses.

The humanoid robot is slim, 5’9” and 140 pounds. It’s named Digit and will work alongside humans, lift and move plastic bins, walk over to its charging dock to rest and return to work after it’s recharged.

CEO of Agility Robotics, Damion Shelton told news site Axios that “Digit will lift anything that a person would handle. Think about things that are larger than a small box, but smaller than a giant bag of dog food.”

Other tech companies like Tesla, and a startup called Figure previously built humanoid robots for their own logistics work while Sanctuary AI recently deployed a humanoid robot, though with heels and not legs, at a Mark’ retail store in Canada.

But Agility maintains it’s the first to bring a product to market. 

Amazon, having developed several non-humanoid robots for logistics and delivery work, also invested in Agility.

The goal with developing these humanoid robots is to alleviate labor shortages and do jobs people find boring, dangerous or repetitive.

But building robots that can simulate human movements remains a huge challenge according to  Agility’s chief technology officer, Jonathan Hurst. He added, “With other form factors, it is very hard to be multipurpose”

Digit is set to be delivered in 2025 but Agility says that the robot’s evolution will be determined by a partnership program, whereby potential customers will shape Digit’s skills and abilities.

Source: Axios

Amazon Sidewalk, the tool that mainly existed to help Ring Camera send motion notifications or allow Level smart locks connect to the internet, now is open to any developer to build connected devices on.

Amazon Sidewalk was first announced in 2019 as a low-power, wide-area network (LPWAN), designed to be used as a replacement to expensive LTE or 5G connectivity on gadgets that do not need that much data.

But now, Amazon wants others to build devices that use the free network.

All you need is a test kit, which is a small gray wireless device with Ring branding on it. The kit will gauge if the connectivity in the area you want to deploy your product is adequate, and you can start building.

According to an article in The Verge, the consumer IoT devices that could benefit from Sidewalk include dog trackers, package trackers, soil moisture sensors, leak sensors, weather stations or anywhere where Wi-Fi is not a given.

Source: The Verge

Cloud giant Rackspace technology has begun a restructuring process, as it battles a slowdown in cloud computing growth rates.

This shakeup is set to cull 4 per cent of the company’s headcount.

Like many other tech companies expediting large cuts, Rackspace blames economic conditions, like high inflation and high interest rates as well as the war in Ukraine and supply chain issues for cutting jobs. 

And it had, more or less, the same ‘soothing’ words, we’ve heard far too many times now– ‘we know that this is a difficult time for you, the news is concerning but the company is very grateful for your continued hard work and support.’

Impacted employees in the U.S. are currently being notified and those outside have already been notified on Monday.

Alongside 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 on revenues of $3.1 billion in calendar 2022.

It used to compete directly with big cloud providers but now helps provide multi-cloud consultancy services to customers. It also provides fully managed hosting services and other such solutions.

Source: The Register

But companies could have another scapegoat for their layoffs soon – Artificial Intelligence

According to Goldman Sachs economists, as many as 300 million full-time jobs around the world could be automated in some way by the newest wave of AI.

That’s 18 per cent of work globally impacted.

The economists said that administrative workers and lawyers are expected to be most affected.

While physically demanding work or outdoor occupations such as construction and repair work will be the least impacted. 

However, the economists noted that technological innovations that initially displace workers, also historically created jobs in the long term.

Plus the widespread adoption of AI could improve productivity and boost global GDP by 7 per cent.

Source: CNN

Apple will now lend money directly to users with the limited launch of its new Apple Pay Later service.

We first heard about the service in 2021. Then it was officially announced at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2022. 

Facing several delays, it only began rolling out on iOS 16, last september.

Users can apply for loans ranging in amount from $50 to $1000 – but they’ll only be able to spend the lent money with merchants (online or otherwise) that accept Apple Pay.

When users initiate the loan, Apple performs a soft credit check before making an offer. Then the payment plan appears on the user’s device. 

Another screen within the Wallet app also allows users to track their loan balance and future payments on a calendar.

The loan payoffs will be split into four payments, and users will have six weeks to pay the loans off with no interest.

Payments need to be made with a 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 fitting rather awkwardly with Elon Musk’s lofty promise to protect freedom of speech.

Starting April 15, Twitter will stop unverified accounts from appearing in recommended tweets.

This means that only posts originating from the paid Twitter Blue account will appear on the platform’s recommended tweets.

In a tweet announcing the policy, Musk said, “This is the only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over. It is otherwise a hopeless losing battle.”

But Twitter seemed to have amended this policy following user backlash. Musk tweeted later in the day that “accounts you follow directly will also be in For You, since you have explicitly asked for them.”

Bots have been the bane of the platform since the very initial launch of the 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 have been reviewed.

Musk said paid verification significantly increases the cost of using bots and makes it easier to identify them.

Just months after his takeover, the platform is now valued at $20 billion, which is less than half of the $44 billion that Musk paid for the company last year.

Source: Macrumors

That’s the top tech news for today.  Hashtag Trending goes to air five days a week with the daily tech news and we have a special weekend edition where we do an in depth interview with an expert on some tech development that is making the news. 

Follow us on Apple, Google, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Links to all the stories we’ve covered can be found in the text edition of this podcast at itworldcanada.com/podcasts

We love your comments – good or bad. You can find ITWC CIO, Jim Love on LinkedIn, Twitter, or on Mastodon as @therealjimlove on our Mastodon site technews.social.  Or just leave a comment under the text version at itworldcanada.com/podcasts  

I’m your host, James Roy, have a thrilling Thursday!

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