Nov 262014
radio programs for techonology, web, social media, cloud computing and computer advice

If you missed the program it’s available from the Soundcloud site.

Paul Wallbank joins Tony Delroy on ABC Nightlife across Australia from 10pm Australian Eastern time on Thursday, November 27 to discuss how technology affects your business and life.

Last week a US company showed off its robotic security guard, with the boast it costs less than half the wages of a human officer. It isn’t just security guards, baristas or taxi drivers, many knowledge based jobs — from call centre workers to lawyers — can be done by computer programs, or algorithms.

Even the building industry isn’t immune from the robots as 3D printing moves into making houses by squeezing concrete out of computer controlled nozzles.

In almost every occupation technology is changing the way we work and reducing the number of workers needed to do a job. So where next for employment in the Twenty-first Century?

Meet the K-5 robot security guard

For this month’s Nightlife we’ll be discussing how the robots and algorithms are taking over the workplace and what this means for our communities and businesses.

Join us

Tune in on your local ABC radio station from 10pm Australian Eastern Summer time or listen online at

We’d love to hear your views so join the conversation with your on-air questions, ideas or comments; phone in on 1300 800 222 within Australia or +61 2 8333 1000 from outside Australia.

You can SMS Nightlife’s talkback on 19922702, or through twitter to @paulwallbank using the #abcnightlife hashtag or visit the Nightlife Facebook page.

Nov 222014

One of the key themes of this site is how  industries and workplaces are changing, one good example of this is Knightscope’s K-5 robot, a refrigerator sized device that does many of the tasks currently done by human security guards.

The K-5 comes with an impressive list of security features; live video,  facial recognition, behavioral analysis and a range of other tools to help organisations protect their premises.

With an advertised running cost of $6.25 an hour, half the US mean average wage for security guards, the robots appear an attractive proposition although one suspects the limitations of the devices, not to mention the networking infrastructure involved, won’t make them feasible for most places in the near future.

Despite its limitations, the K-5 shows the direction of robot technologies in replacing jobs that until recently were thought to be immune to automation. As the technologies inside the K-5 become smaller and lighter, future devices will become even more flexible and adaptable.

Adding to the strengths of these autonomous devices is their constant connectivity, as the promotional video shows the robot uses cloud services to run its recognition and alarm services. Coupled with various sensors and beacons within a building, and these robot security guards become formidable devices.

The applications for devices like the K-5 goes beyond patrolling shopping centres, car parks or industrial complexes; it’s not hard to see how similar devices can be deployed in applications like agriculture, mining or manufacturing for tasks where it would be expensive or dangerous to employ humans.

What the K-5 illustrates Andrew McAfee’s warning of exponential technological change being about to engulf businesses, the employment implications of that should have community leaders thinking as well.

For entrepreneurs, on the other hand, advances in robotics are another great opportunity.

Nov 042014

An interesting little story about a robot penguin chick appeared on the I F***ing Love Science website a few days ago.

French  researchers wanted to monitor penguin colonies in Antarctica, the problem traditionally has been that lumbering humans tend to distrupt the birds’ colonies. To overcome the problem the researchers designed a very basic dummy penguin chick which they could drive into the colonies.

It worked very well with both the young birds and adults accepting the robot into their community which gave researchers great insights into the birds’ social structures.

While it’s a cute example, the robot penguin shows just how many applications we’re going to see in the next few years for intelligent devices that can go into places that would be inaccessible for humans. For many industries this is going to dramtically change the way they work.

Image courtesy of Alex Bruder through Free Images.