SciTech Briefs

Robots can replace American jobs

As robotic technology continues to improve, economists who have studied labor statistics and increasing job polarization — a growing disparity in pay among skilled and unskilled labor — conclude that robots are replacing many American workers whose occupations consist of routine tasks.

A study by David Autor, an MIT economist, conducted this spring found that certain occupations are more vulnerable to automation. The fall issue of GOOD magazine summarized Autor’s findings: “The middle class is disappearing in large part because technology is rendering middle-class skills obsolete.” Jobs in this country are increasingly polarizing towards high-skilled, high-paying jobs and away from low-skilled, low-paying jobs, and as Autor’s study has found, automation is a major factor. However, robots cannot build themselves, which means workers will still be needed to put them together.

Source: Popular Science

Credit cards soon to get a makeover

Next month, Citibank will begin testing a card that has two buttons and tiny lights that will allow users to choose whether they want to pay with rewards points or credit — right at the register of almost any merchant. These cards, known as 2G for “second generation,” are no thicker than and just as flexible as conventional plastic, but they contain a battery with a four-year life expectancy, an embedded chip, and two buttons. Dynamics, Inc. is the company that developed this minicomputer-in-a-card.

Pressing the buttons changes the data imprinted on the magnetic stripe, so the card still works like conventional plastic and can be swiped through existing card terminals nationwide. Another Dynamics, Inc. card would allow cardholders to have multiple accounts, such as a corporate and personal account, on one physical card. The stripe-modifying technology was created by Jeffrey D. Mullen, the 32-year-old chief executive of Dynamics, who is also an electrical engineer and former patent lawyer who obtained his master’s degree in business at Carnegie Mellon.

Source: The New York Times

Oldest object in universe seen

An ancient galaxy has broken the record for the most distant object found in the sky known to date. Light from this galaxy takes roughly 13.1 billion years to reach Earth, which also makes it the oldest known object in the universe. It is estimated that the galaxy was created only 600 million years after the Big Bang.

The galaxy, named UDFy-38135539, was seen by the Hubble telescope. Its discovery may provide insight into what the first stars were like and how they influenced the formation of the universe, researchers said. “This is the first time we know for sure that we are looking at one of the galaxies that cleared out the fog which had filled the very early universe,” said Nicole Nesvadba from the University of Paris-Sud in France.

Source: Fox News

Compiled By
Shashank Pradhan