One of the arguments in favor of automation, is that even though robots will take our jobs, surely they will replace them with better jobs. Right? They will eliminate menial vocations and replace them with programmers and repair crews that will be dedicated to maintaining the machines, and these jobs will pay much more than the ones they replace. But what if these new machines don’t need any human input? What if they can learn all by themselves?

That appears to be the case with a new robot developed at UC Berkeley, which has been appropriately dubbed BRETT (Berkeley Robot for the Elimination of Tedious Tasks). The machine learns through trial and error, much like a human. While it’s not completely independent, all the researchers need to do is point out the objects that it has to put together, and it can figure out how to do it in 10 minutes.

While that may not sound like a big deal, it’s lightyears ahead of most robots, which need human instructions for every minutia of any given task. As Professor Pieter Abbeel put it “The key is that when a robot is faced with something new, we won’t have to reprogram it. The exact same software, which encodes how the robot can learn, was used to allow the robot to learn all the different tasks we gave it.” If you have any fears about the future of the job market, then brace yourself before watching this robot in action.


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