5 Things to Know Today: March 7, 2017
Liz Biscevic—5 Things to Know Today
The “Robot Lawyer” is at it again, this time helping refugees claim asylum in North America. Speaking of bots, Lawrence Summers said Bill Gates' idea to tax robots is “extremely misguided.” Meanwhile, a stunning new pavilion concept gets its design inspiration from bones and its execution from 3D printing.
1. Guardian: The ‘Robot Lawyer’ that overturned parking fines is now helping refugees claim asylum.
The creator of the parking ticket legal aid chatbot DoNotPay has now turned that technology to refugees seeking asylum. Created by Stanford student Joshua Browder, DoNotPay could be described as “the world’s first robot lawyer.” That latest iteration of the chatbot uses Facebook Messenger to fill out immigration applications, and then asks the user a series of questions to test eligibility for asylum protection and determine what application the refugee needs. DoNotPay is available on almost any device, which makes it accessible to over a billion people.
2. Reuters: The GOP announced the long-awaited Obamacare reform plan.
Basically, the draft bill does away with subsidies and replaces it with tax credits based on age to encourage (but not legally mandate) everyone get health insurance. While it will still be illegal for insurance companies to reject people with pre-existing conditions, some are already criticizing the bill for rolling back Medicaid expansions. Others don't think the proposed legislation goes far enough, dubbing it "Obamacare Lite."
3. Fast Coexist: For every dollar spent cutting down food waste, businesses saved $14.
Dave Lewis, CEO of Tesco and chairman of Champions 12.3, a group committed to advancing the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 (which would substantially reduce food waste), has laid out data that shows what companies can gain by investing in cutting back. Lewis says that the new report by the WRI and the Waste Recycling Action Plan (WRAP) carves out “the clear investment case for reducing food waste to help urge more businesses to take action to tackle it." Though waste is often considered the “cost of doing business,” the report found that for every $1 a company invested in reducing food loss—like training programs, new equipment, and improving packaging—they received a $14 dollar return on investment, especially restaurants.
4. Inhabitat: A prototypical 3D-printed pavilion uses biomimicry to minimize material use.
Created by the Politecnico di Milano school of architecture, the Trabeculae Pavilion is inspired by the incredibly efficient microstructure of bones. The lightweight pavilion concept would use 3D-printing to cut down on materials waste in addition to the bone-inspired design, which allows for extremely precise, scalable design. The full-scale prototype will be exhibited at the MADE Expo in Milan later this year.
5. Quartz: Should we tax our new robot overlords or nah? Two masters of the universe weigh in.
A while back, Bill Gates said that one way to mitigate technology’s ability to take over human jobs is to tax the robots, giving the government revenue to fund social programs and job retraining for newly unemployable citizens. But former US Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers is critical of that plan (also floated, and rejected, earlier this year by the EU). Summers says taxing technology would suppress its innovation and is a shortsighted view of all the benefits automation tech may provide (see our above post about DoNotPay, for example). Instead, Summers suggests that the government should provide employment programs and wage subsidies for people affected by new technologies.