AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby Zamfir » Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:10 am UTC

So what you're saying is that we could already have plumbing robots if more people elected to set up their plumbing in a standard way

I am not sure sure about that. Even in car assembly, the robots do only some types of jobs. The more plumbing-like aspects (installing equipment and the wiring and tubing between them) involve a lot of workers. And that's in large scale mass production, with the associated possibilities for capital investment, standardisation, optimization. Home construction is already a very different business, and plumbing in existing buildings is yet another step removed from that ideal environment for robots.

I suppose it's technically possible to build a demo-house for robotised plumbing, at huge cost and quite some inconvenience. The history of automation has a lot of such demos, most of which never turn into a solid business case. I bet there's already something like this, somewhere in Japan.

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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby sardia » Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:08 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:
So what you're saying is that we could already have plumbing robots if more people elected to set up their plumbing in a standard way

I am not sure sure about that. Even in car assembly, the robots do only some types of jobs. The more plumbing-like aspects (installing equipment and the wiring and tubing between them) involve a lot of workers. And that's in large scale mass production, with the associated possibilities for capital investment, standardisation, optimization. Home construction is already a very different business, and plumbing in existing buildings is yet another step removed from that ideal environment for robots.

I suppose it's technically possible to build a demo-house for robotised plumbing, at huge cost and quite some inconvenience. The history of automation has a lot of such demos, most of which never turn into a solid business case. I bet there's already something like this, somewhere in Japan.

There's human AI aided work that can be done too. I think someone took Google glass, and used the visual projections​ to guide an apprentice worker through an installation. Stuff like, hilighting the correct tool, where to turn the wrench, or where to weld, give tips etc etc.

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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby ucim » Wed Apr 05, 2017 4:22 pm UTC

AI won't spring full-blown from the womb. It will begin as it is now - computers aiding people in simple ways. Then as they become more capable and more complex tasks are tackled, people will be aiding the computers that aid people... for example, (as said above) highlighting the proper tool, pointing out where things should go, and doing the things that computers haven't quite mastered. Then computers will get better at it.

In the end, people will be working for the computers, which will be working for themselves. The question is whether we will notice in time.

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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby Thesh » Wed Apr 05, 2017 5:00 pm UTC

Most change is going to be gradual - we aren't going to build a new house, but we may create robot that crawls in between the walls, and lays new wiring instead of trying to thread it through. Now installing new lighting can go a lot faster as a one-person job. Copper piping I'm not sure about, as you generally want to be a bit more careful with turning on blowtorches next to wooden framing (although I am by no means an expert on plumbing, so the whole thing about wood being susceptible to catching fire could be a myth).
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Re: Ai discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby cphite » Wed Apr 05, 2017 6:21 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
cphite wrote:It's one thing to create a robot that can put some standard pieces of something together in a standard way. We've had that for decades in the auto industry for example. We even have robots who can identify what's broken in a standard setup and decide how to fix.
So what you're saying is that we could already have plumbing robots if more people elected to set up their plumbing in a standard way.


No. It wouldn't be enough to have standard plumbing. It isn't just a matter of the robot knowing what parts are involved and how to fix them; it has to be able to actually find the parts and get to them. It has to know, for example, how to move all of the cleaning supplies you have under the sink. Standard plumbing would be just the beginning; you'd need standard homes, and you'd need standard ways of keeping homes organized. We don't have anything close in terms of AI right now that could go into an average home and even find the plumbing it needed to fix, let alone fix it.

Assembly lines are easy - you're doing the same thing with the same parts, and they're always in the same place. That isn't anything like a home.

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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby Thesh » Wed Apr 05, 2017 6:27 pm UTC

That's actually the easiest problem to solve: "Please remove obstruction"

The homeowner will do it for free!
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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby morriswalters » Wed Apr 05, 2017 8:20 pm UTC

cphite wrote:No. It wouldn't be enough to have standard plumbing. It isn't just a matter of the robot knowing what parts are involved and how to fix them; it has to be able to actually find the parts and get to them. It has to know, for example, how to move all of the cleaning supplies you have under the sink. Standard plumbing would be just the beginning; you'd need standard homes, and you'd need standard ways of keeping homes organized. We don't have anything close in terms of AI right now that could go into an average home and even find the plumbing it needed to fix, let alone fix it.
Yet they are developing autonomous cars capable of navigating much more complex environments. However it would be disingenuous of me to argue that it is a near term possibility. But it's just a matter of time, if an economic case makes it worthwhile. Just developing a sensor cabinet the size of R2 D2 that could sweep the walls and notable areas looking for the same things plumbers do, water, water stains, standing water in sinks, and so on, would be valuable. That robot could carry sensors that plumbers aren't born with. And that is how it starts.

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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby cphite » Wed Apr 05, 2017 9:29 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
cphite wrote:No. It wouldn't be enough to have standard plumbing. It isn't just a matter of the robot knowing what parts are involved and how to fix them; it has to be able to actually find the parts and get to them. It has to know, for example, how to move all of the cleaning supplies you have under the sink. Standard plumbing would be just the beginning; you'd need standard homes, and you'd need standard ways of keeping homes organized. We don't have anything close in terms of AI right now that could go into an average home and even find the plumbing it needed to fix, let alone fix it.


Yet they are developing autonomous cars capable of navigating much more complex environments. However it would be disingenuous of me to argue that it is a near term possibility. But it's just a matter of time, if an economic case makes it worthwhile. Just developing a sensor cabinet the size of R2 D2 that could sweep the walls and notable areas looking for the same things plumbers do, water, water stains, standing water in sinks, and so on, would be valuable. That robot could carry sensors that plumbers aren't born with. And that is how it starts.


The key difference is the ability to directly interact with the problem. An autonomous car needs to essentially stay on the road, obey traffic laws, know where to go, and not collide with anything else. Each of those things is based on direct interaction - be it with GPS, road markings, line of sight, or wireless communication and so forth.

Computers are pretty good at recognizing something and reacting accordingly. Road curves, turn. Someone moves in front of you, stop.

Your robot plumber has to deal with problems that it, at least initially, cannot directly interact with. It cannot initially see the plumbing, or even know the location of the plumbing, or how to get to it once it does know.

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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:03 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:I suppose it's technically possible to build a demo-house for robotised plumbing, at huge cost and quite some inconvenience. The history of automation has a lot of such demos, most of which never turn into a solid business case. I bet there's already something like this, somewhere in Japan.
Honestly, if you're going that far, you might as well just save yourself the trouble and make the whole house one giant, self-repairing robot.

(I'm sure something like this also exists in Japan)

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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby elasto » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:02 pm UTC

cphite wrote:Your robot plumber has to deal with problems that it, at least initially, cannot directly interact with. It cannot initially see the plumbing, or even know the location of the plumbing

That's not really the key disadvantage of a robot plumber over a human: Human plumbers are simply more dextrous (right now).

Robot plumbers will actually have an advantage over humans in the areas you suggest because they have way more senses - for example the ability to natively sense metal pipes or electrical wires inside/behind walls. Moreover, any plans that do exist they can know and apply with far more accuracy than a human - which is the same reason that self-directing robotics is starting to infiltrate medical surgery.

(It's no different to how robot vehicles have more senses than human drivers such as being able to detect human children playing behind vegetation at the side of the road and applying appropriate caution.)

The Great Hippo wrote:Honestly, if you're going that far, you might as well just save yourself the trouble and make the whole house one giant, self-repairing robot.

Naww.

What will eventually occur is that houses will be built initially by robots who record all the plans in minute detail; so that subsequent robots have all necessary information to perform any repairs - be they electrical, plumbing or whatever.

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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby morriswalters » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:08 pm UTC

cphite wrote:Your robot plumber has to deal with problems that it, at least initially, cannot directly interact with. It cannot initially see the plumbing, or even know the location of the plumbing, or how to get to it once it does know.
I don't think your plumber does much better. He can't see through walls. He knows how things are put together generally speaking but walks into most jobs blind. And then uses prior knowledge to find and correct that problem. In terms of AI, he teaching his neural nets how to fix plumbing. The more he does it the better he gets. That we won't have affordable plumbing robots is a function of how breeding plumbers is cheaper than manufacturing the same.

While I agree that a general plumbing robot is a business non starter, I could have convinced my boss to buy a robot that could have crawled high rise pipe chases to find and repair leaks in copper piping. It would also have been nice to have a drain auger with enough intelligence to be able to navigate DWV piping systems with the aid of a human navigator.

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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:44 pm UTC

elasto wrote:What will eventually occur is that houses will be built initially by robots who record all the plans in minute detail; so that subsequent robots have all necessary information to perform any repairs - be they electrical, plumbing or whatever.
Except when I decide that the robot who built my house fucked up on the plumbing -- and decide to rehaul it myself -- the robots who come in to fix it a year later end up installing a toilet in the middle of my new living room.

EDIT: I mean, I'm with you; that's a pretty neat idea -- but humans like to tinker, and they have a propensity to not provide clear, thorough documentation regarding what they've tinkered with. Just ask anyone who's ever tried to do any sort of maintenance work in an industrial setting -- you have to contend with all sorts of bullshit the people before you added on and decided to never tell anyone about. Or heck -- same problem comes up when you're dealing with other people's code.

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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby speising » Thu Apr 06, 2017 6:25 am UTC

I thought you are talking about Artificial Intelligence? The ability to cope with the unexpected would be precisely the differentiating quality to a stupid robot machine of today.
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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Apr 06, 2017 7:35 am UTC

speising wrote:I thought you are talking about Artificial Intelligence? The ability to cope with the unexpected would be precicely the differentiating quality to a stupid robot machine of today.
AIs aren't psychic. If I somehow tied my gas-main into my water-piping -- and the only thing standing between my house and a pile of smoldering rubble is a three-quarter inch gate-valve -- the most brilliant AI in the world can still blow up my home while trying to repair a leaky toilet.

I mean, so could a regular ol' human plumber... but the point is only that perfect digital representations of a house's interior plumbing won't be perfect for long -- which is why, yeah -- you need machines able to contend with the unexpected.

EDIT: I mean, I guess the compromise would be smart machines that expect your plumbing to follow the documentation, but can respond to cases where it doesn't -- but I'm skeptical that the investment in well-documented plumbing would be worth it, largely 'cuz I'm skeptical anyone would actually go through the trouble of maintaining that documentation.

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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby elasto » Thu Apr 06, 2017 9:44 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Except when I decide that the robot who built my house fucked up on the plumbing -- and decide to rehaul it myself -- the robots who come in to fix it a year later end up installing a toilet in the middle of my new living room.

That's not the direction things move in though. Just look at cars - they've gone from something you could tinker with yourself (20+ years ago) to something you need highly specialised electronics to tinker with (today) to something you daren't touch (self-driving vehicles 20+ hence).

Houses are going to move in the same direction - starting with 'the internet of things' and getting increasingly more autonomous and complex from there on out.

In half a century you'd probably 'void your warranty' doing the plumbing rehaul you suggest...

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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby Trebla » Thu Apr 06, 2017 2:07 pm UTC

cphite wrote:Computers are pretty good at recognizing something and reacting accordingly. Road curves, turn. Someone moves in front of you, stop.


Two decades ago (maybe even one) this would have been a ridiculously absurd statement. I won't say a machine will be able to replace a plumber in any short time frame, but what seems absurdly beyond imminent capabilities may not stay that way for long.

These same "but what if something is out of the ordinary, a computer can't account for that" were arguments against self-driving cars, too... What if the bridge is out? What if there's an overturned truck on the highway? What if protesters are blocking the road? What if the maps are wrong? What if a tire goes flat? And the answer is... they get addressed.

Edit: Another interesting comparison is that a lot of early speculation for autonomous cars involved special roads with sensors making them, essentially, glorified tracks; that's much like the thought that houses can be standardized. I strongly suspect that overcoming "intelligence" limitations for autonomous plumbers will likewise prove more reasonable than expecting the entire building infrastructure to be overhauled to support them.

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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby speising » Thu Apr 06, 2017 2:51 pm UTC

I propose we create a scale for AI level based on jobs they can replace.

Assembly line worker: check
bus driver: almost there
plumber: ??

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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby Zamfir » Thu Apr 06, 2017 3:21 pm UTC

Trebla, your timeline for autonomous cars is a tad off. If you look at the capability that is currently commercially available, then it's comparable to the VAMP project from the early 90s (which was very expensive state of the art at the time). Roughly speaking, a system that can drive on a highway, but requires some human intervention every few minutes or so. That wasalready the end of a long research program, so the point where people switched from augmented roads to computer vision is over three decades (and many billions of euros...) ago.

That direction itself seems to be a bit of a dead end. Projects with ambitions beyond the highway rely on detailed, annotated and regularly upgraded 3d mapping. That is a kind of a halfway point in between augmented roads, and purely sensor-based logic. It's like the system carries a virtual augmentation with it.

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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby Trebla » Thu Apr 06, 2017 5:04 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:Trebla, your timeline for autonomous cars is a tad off........

That direction itself seems to be a bit of a dead end. Projects with ambitions beyond the highway rely on detailed, annotated and regularly upgraded 3d mapping. That is a kind of a halfway point in between augmented roads, and purely sensor-based logic. It's like the system carries a virtual augmentation with it.


You're right of course, I didn't realize that capability was there in 94... a teenager at the time, the bits I remember were probably already outdated and I just didn't know it.

Storing (or having remote access to) detailed, regularly updated maps isn't what I'd call "augmented roads" in any sense of the phrase... carrying the "virtual augmentation in the car" is what I'd call the exact opposite of augmented roads. (I had interpreted that phrase to mean physical changes to the road to support self-driving cars, but I guess that may not be an accurate understanding of the phrase.)

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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby KnightExemplar » Thu Apr 06, 2017 5:51 pm UTC

speising wrote:I propose we create a scale for AI level based on jobs they can replace.

Assembly line worker: check


Not even. Things like the iPhone have curves and screws at awkward angles. Designs are no longer purely about being easy for a robot to do... but are starting to be "Fashion statements". Stitched leather gets added to a phone not because its easy to do... but because its hard for a robot to do.

Now yeah, there are sewing machines that do the actual stitching. But for the most part, textiles and clothing require a relatively large amount of manual labor (which is why most of the work is done in Chinese / Vietnamese sweatshops by hand).

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Now, cheap phones (like the Nokia 105) cut every single corner and create a device that only costs $0.70 per unit to manufacture. Keep the humans to a minimum, etc. etc.
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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby Zamfir » Thu Apr 06, 2017 7:34 pm UTC

Trebla wrote:Storing (or having remote access to) detailed, regularly updated maps isn't what I'd call "augmented roads" in any sense of the phrase... carrying the "virtual augmentation in the car" is what I'd call the exact opposite of augmented roads. (I had interpreted that phrase to mean physical changes to the road to support self-driving cars, but I guess that may not be an accurate understanding of the phrase.)

Sure, it's not the same thing. But there is some similarity between mapping and augmentations the environment, in that you offload some tricky parts of the task from the car by doing preparation work in advance. Which also allows efficient human input - the mapping software can flag an issue if it's stuck for human review, thus saving many cars from having to ask their driver. Of course, it's much cheaper and more flexible than physical changes.

There's also some similarity to elasto's hypothetical "perfect construction record" earlier in the thread, to help the hypothetical plumbing robot. Then again, car maintenance casts some doubt on that scenario: production cars are built to much tighter tolerances than houses, and there is a detailed digital model available of every car. That should work as a strong starting point for a car maintenance machine that can do standard tasks like changing v-belts. But I don't see much movement in that direction.

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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby KnightExemplar » Thu Apr 06, 2017 9:53 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:There's also some similarity to elasto's hypothetical "perfect construction record" earlier in the thread, to help the hypothetical plumbing robot. Then again, car maintenance casts some doubt on that scenario: production cars are built to much tighter tolerances than houses, and there is a detailed digital model available of every car. That should work as a strong starting point for a car maintenance machine that can do standard tasks like changing v-belts. But I don't see much movement in that direction.


I've actually read an interesting argument with regard to manufacturing and maintenance of appliances.

Large appliances were once built to last. They were serviceable and had replaceable parts for a technician to replace. However, now that automation and mass-production is so big... its cheaper to just throw away the appliance and buy a newer one. Not only is this mostly automated (with exception of the relatively cheap and low-skill movers), but the methodology makes more money and also leads to more efficient appliances in the long run. (Newer models almost always have better environmental regulations than older models: less energy use or safer materials).

Although... for cars... it seems to be going in the opposite direction. Before, it was common to throw away your car at 100,000 miles or so. But today, its common for cars to last well over 11 years with 200k or 300k miles on them. Indeed, the average car age is 11 years.

I think you pointed this out before Zamfir. If I remember your words correctly, they were along the lines of "It turns out that the best way to make a cheaper car, is to make a car last longer. Then sell the 60,000-mile used car as the cheaper car". So if anything, the necessity for humans to service various car bits has only grown as cars have become more reliable.
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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:12 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:Stitched leather gets added to a phone not because its easy to do... but because its hard for a robot to do.
Well sure. Like I said before, there will probably always be a market for prestige symbols that are made by human workers, just like there is now for handmade things.
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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby ucim » Thu Apr 06, 2017 11:37 pm UTC

A bit off topic but
Trebla wrote:Storing (or having remote access to) detailed, regularly updated maps...
... is an excuse for employing detailed surveillance and getting us to accept it. Cars don't need maps. Cars need eyes. They need to respond to what is, not what should be.

As to the rest of the (recent) robotics discussion, there is a difference between making machines think, and making machines useful. We can make machines (more) useful by arranging their environment (just like we can make people more useful by making their jobs easier). However, arranging things so that it's easier for a machine (or any agent) is not the same as that agent thinking. In a sense, it's the opposite; it lets the agent get by without thinking. Think of the fast food order takers; they push a button for a big mac, they don't look up the price and add it to the running total. This makes it easier for the order taker to take the order, but requires less thinking on the part of the order taker. Ditto any machine whose environment we arrange.

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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby Zamfir » Fri Apr 07, 2017 6:52 am UTC

Large appliances were once built to last. They were serviceable and had replaceable parts for a technician to replace. However, now that automation and mass-production is so big... its cheaper to just throw away the appliance and buy a newer one.

I have seen this claim, but I am not so sure that it is true (at least, true in general beyond specific cases). As you say, it's the oppiste for cars. it doesn't decribe houses either, and those two categories already cover most of a household's capex. People always complain about whitegoods, but there's a lot of survivor bias there - people compare the average new machine to the lucky or expensive survivors from the past. At least my white good appliances don't seem less servicable than old ones, and replacement components are now easier to get than a decade ago. Do you have hard data on this?

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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby KnightExemplar » Fri Apr 07, 2017 3:30 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:
Large appliances were once built to last. They were serviceable and had replaceable parts for a technician to replace. However, now that automation and mass-production is so big... its cheaper to just throw away the appliance and buy a newer one.

I have seen this claim, but I am not so sure that it is true (at least, true in general beyond specific cases). As you say, it's the oppiste for cars. it doesn't decribe houses either, and those two categories already cover most of a household's capex. People always complain about whitegoods, but there's a lot of survivor bias there - people compare the average new machine to the lucky or expensive survivors from the past. At least my white good appliances don't seem less servicable than old ones, and replacement components are now easier to get than a decade ago. Do you have hard data on this?


I don't have hard data. The last discussion I've seen was this blog-post: https://medium.com/@ryanfinlay/they-use ... 383ff28a8e

The author is a bit gloomy with its outlook, but there are a few points that do stand out as relatively accurate in my experience:

For example, one of, if not the best selling washing machines of all time was the direct drive Whirlpool washing machine. They made those splendid washers for a little over 30 years. Then a few years ago they replaced the direct drive with the “Vertical Modular Washer”. These new washers can be recognized by the led lights under the timer as you see in this picture, and can often be seen in large quantities at your local scrap metal yard. They are one of the worst designed washing machines ever produced and you will encounter serious problems within 1–3 years of purchasing one. They replaced the most reliable washer with the least reliable washer.


A. Painting techniques have changed. For a long time washing machine lids used to be dipped in paint, so that every surface, nook and cranny could receive an adequate amount of paint to prevent rust. This was very effective and kept rust out, often times for decades. Now washer lids mostly are sprayed. The problem with this is that you physically cannot spray parts of the lid because of angles, so they do not receive any paint. Can you guess where the first part to rust is on a top loading washing machine? The lid! I’ve seen new washer lids begin to rust within a year. Over time the rust builds up and becomes an eyesore and eventually starts dropping rust flakes in the washer.


It might be a US-specific phenomenon, because these are US brands that the author is talking about.
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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby Thesh » Fri Apr 07, 2017 3:37 pm UTC

I mean, that doesn't say it's just because it's cheaper, that's talking about things like planned obsolescence - it's not cheaper to do it this way, but it's simply more profitable to make lower quality appliances since it will be years before customers know it's junk, and they might even move before they find out. It's extremely inefficient, but it's better for the manufacturer.
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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby Zamfir » Fri Apr 07, 2017 6:28 pm UTC

@KE, some of those brands also sell here. Whirlpool is somewhat notorious as a company that buys old brands, then sells the same cheap machine under different names to old people who remember the brand names. He mentions the same practice for the US. Makes like-to-like comparison difficult.

He also illustrates the survivor bias problem:
I’ve bought and sold refrigerators and freezers from the 1950’s that still work perfectly fine. I’ve come across washers and dryers from the 1960’s and 1970’s that were still working like the day they were made. Now, many appliances break and need servicing within 2–3 years and, overall, new appliances last 1/3 to 1/4 as long as appliances built decades ago.

For some reason, he never encounters machines from the 1960s that broke within years of being made ;-)

Don't get me wrong, the thesis might still be correct. It's just hard to tell without true fleet-wide data, like we have for cars. Though that same lack of data might also be the cause of the hypothetical effect - it's the lemon market effect where manufacturers cannot charge for quality if they cannot prove it.

Perhaps relevant to this point: professional washing machines start in price at the very high end of consumer machines. Same for many whitegoods categories, or power tools. The pro market is designed for much higher cycle numbers, this costs money, and intensive users are willing to pay because the per-cycle cost is still lower. But delivery vans are built to mid-range consumer-car specs, suggesting that such consumer cars are built close to the per-cycle optimum.

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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby Dauric » Fri Apr 07, 2017 7:23 pm UTC

Another possible angle to examine (which I haven't found numbers for) is the "appliance repair industry". IE: how many stores are out there that do appliance repair. Anecdotally it seems to me there's less storefronts that house appliance repair businesses, many of the ones I used to see have long since closed.

If appliances are designed to be repairable then repair services should be available. If the marketplace has changed to a more "disposable/recyclable" rather than "repairable" model then stores offering appliance repair will decline with the change in emphasis in the marketplace.
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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby ucim » Fri Apr 07, 2017 7:28 pm UTC

A third option to consider is that objects are designed so that their components tend to fail around the same time. In the "Good Old Days"TM, when a component failed, it was reasonably assumed that the rest of the device still had a lot of life left in it and it was worth repairing. However, if this turns out to be (or be becoming) false, then the first component to fail is best viewed as the canary in the coal mine. It's a signal that the rest of the device already has its feet in the air and is only working because of cartoon physics.

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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby Zamfir » Fri Apr 07, 2017 8:19 pm UTC

There's a nice poem on that exact theme (from the good old days, no less), it's long so I skipped parts
Spoiler:
Have you heard of the wonderful one-hoss shay,
That was built in such a logical way
It ran a hundred years to a day,
And then, of a sudden, it — ah, but stay,
I’ll tell you what happened without delay,

[Some delay skipped by zamfir]
Now in building of chaises, I tell you what,
There is always somewhere a weakest spot, —
In hub, tire, felloe, in spring or thill,
In panel, or crossbar, or floor, or sill,
In screw, bolt, thoroughbrace, — lurking still,
Find it somewhere you must and will, —
Above or below, or within or without, —
And that’s the reason, beyond a doubt,
A chaise breaks down, but doesn’t wear out.

[Another century of delay skipped by zamfir]

There are traces of age in the one-hoss shay,
A general flavor of mild decay,
But nothing local, as one may say.
There couldn’t be, — for the Deacon’s art
Had made it so like in every part
That there wasn’t a chance for one to start.
For the wheels were just as strong as the thills,
And the floor was just as strong as the sills,
And the panels just as strong as the floor,
And the whipple-tree neither less nor more,
And the back crossbar as strong as the fore,
And spring and axle and hub encore.
And yet, as a whole, it is past a doubt
In another hour it will be worn out!

[Skipping another hour ]
What do you think the parson found,
When he got up and stared around?
The poor old chaise in a heap or mound,
As if it had been to the mill and ground!
You see, of course, if you’re not a dunce,
How it went to pieces all at once, —
All at once, and nothing first, —
Just as bubbles do when they burst.

End of the wonderful one-hoss shay.
Logic is logic. That’s all I say.


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Re: AI discussion from The Darker Side of the News

Postby morriswalters » Fri Apr 07, 2017 8:57 pm UTC

Repairs are available easily. Both self repair and professional on site service. However it costs and arm and a leg. Two or three service calls could cover the cost of a new appliance. If the specialty controls have copyrighted code as part of the functionality, then you are at the mercy of the manufacturer, should he discontinue support. There is a vigorous after market otherwise. Generally speaking modern appliances offer greater functionality at lesser price points. I love my Cabrio by Whirlpool. Three phase motor with no complex and heavy transmission full of oil with a replaceable belt. They short the cabinet of steel, but then again if they used the metal that was in my mothers wringer washer I couldn't afford it. Take that for what it's worth.


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