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The SEC Newgate AI Weekly

AI Concept
By Matthew Ford
26 October 2023
Digital and Insight
artificial intelligence

The focus for this week’s SEC Newgate AI Weekly will be AI-powered robotics.

Artificial Intelligence is such a part of our lives now that it’s often easy to overlook. We don’t tend to think about the AI running our email’s spam filter or AI music recommendations given to us when we open an app like Spotify.

But when people really imagine a futuristic world it almost always involves robotics, or AI-powered humanoid robots to be precise.

This October that future took another step towards becoming a reality with several key announcements.

Amazon to test Agility’s Digit robot

Amazon made several big announcements this week at its Delivering the Future event in Seattle. It was reported by TechCrunch from the event that Amazon is to begin testing Agility’s Digit humanoid robot, for potential use in its warehouses.

Amazon already uses hundreds of thousands of robots to fulfil its orders, but these are mainly wheeled robots or robotic arms. With Agility already announced as being a recipient from Amazon’s $1 billion Industrial Innovation Fund, humanoid type robots could make their way to Amazon warehouses in the near future.


Flying drone deliveries for the UK

Sticking with Amazon, the world’s second largest private company also announced that it will begin delivering packages in the UK and Italy with drones in 2024. Amazon unveiled a new type of drone to make these deliveries, different to those currently used on a small scale in the US.

As reported in the Guardian, the new MK30 drone will not need a delivery pad with a QR code to deliver to customers. It will also be able to fly in the evening, in heavier winds and in light rain; no doubt essential for flying in the UK.

At first the drones will have to be in line of sight of an observer and will initially be from just one site. But Amazon is hopeful of future drone expansion, in addition to the UK adopting a framework to remove the need for an observer.

Humanoid robot developed in just one year

In a sign of how quickly robotic technology is advancing, AI start-up company Figure developed a humanoid, bipedal walking robot in just one year.

Reuters reported earlier in 2023 that Figure had raised $70 million in investment to build humanoid robots. The company has used that investment to develop a walking robot in what, it claims, is the quickest turnaround in history.


AI killer drones

AI-powered robotics has not only been used in developing more efficient logistics. For better or for worse, AI was always going to be used for military purposes too.

The New Scientist now reports that AI-powered attack drones are being used by Ukraine to attack Russian targets, without human assistance.

The drones are being used to target Russian vehicles, such as tanks, but this will inevitably lead to those within the vehicles being killed. This means we have now entered a phase in human history where people will lose their lives to autonomous, AI-powered robots.

The week ahead

AI news in the next week is likely to be dominated by the UK’s AI Safety Summit, which will be held on the 1st and 2nd of November in Bletchley Park.

The summit will bring together one hundred attendees from around the globe, with the US Vice President, French President, Chinese diplomats and representatives from Silicon Valley giants like ChatGPT, Google Deepmind, Anthropic, Meta and Elon Musk’s new xAI all expected to attend.

In the week ahead of the summit, Prime Minister Sunak gave a speech on the threats and opportunities of AI. While reeling off a list of risks from AI, including cyber-attacks, fraud, use by terrorist groups and potential human extinction, the Prime Minister also stated he did not want to sound “alarmist” and that AI was not a “risk people need to be losing sleep over…”

In spite of his speech, that oscillated from one AI extreme to the other, the Prime Minister is making steps towards positioning the UK as a global leader on AI safety. All eyes will now be on Bletchley Park to see whether there is a positive outcome from the global summit he has brought to the UK.