BEIJING, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- The World Robot Conference in Beijing showcased myriads of robot prototypes and provided glimmering signs of China's automated future.
The event drew together 100 experts, 12 global organizations and more than 120 companies, Euro News reported.
China's HIT Robot Group, based in the northern city of Harbin, displayed robots that can carry rifles and grenade launchers, The Telegraph reported Thursday.
The machines, which are toy-sized, are designed to combat terrorism, but Chinese state media did not mention how the robots could be prevented from falling into enemy hands.
A Beijing police force has reportedly purchased a set of the robots at $234,720 that includes a "reconnaissance" robot that can detect poisonous gases and chemicals.
"The toy-sized robots can coordinate with each other on the battlefield," Xinhua reported.
The BBC reported China already is the world's largest market for industrial robots, according to the International Federation of Robotics.
Analysts at the conference said service robots that function in the home and office are most likely to be in demand in the future, and one exhibit showcased a cooking robot, built to resemble a woman.
Robot waiters are already in use at Chinese tourist sites and restaurants.
A robot developed in Japan, Geminoid F, was popular at the event for its ability to interact with people.
"[Our] final goal is creating some artificial intelligence system ... by using this robot," Kohei Ogawa of Osaka University said.
Robots could make lives easier for many people, but for others their increased sophistication could mean bad news.
CNN Money reported that more intelligent robots are likely to put 50 percent of U.S. and British jobs at risk, quoting data from the Bank of England.
The bank's chief economist Andy Haldane had said 80 million U.S. and 15 million British jobs could vanish in the next 10-20 years because the new machines have the "potential to substitute for human brains as well as hands."
Administrative, clerical and production workers are at the highest risk of being replaced, Haldane said.
NEW YORK, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Despite a promise from its chief executive two months ago, Turing Pharmaceuticals said Wednesday it has decided to keep the price of an anti-infection drug high -- a sustained increase that generated a national outcry among patients this summer.
The hike took the cost of Daraprim from about $13 per tablet to $750 per tablet -- a 5,000 percent increase. The change meant treatment for patients rose from about $1,100 to nearly $65,000 per year.
Critics slammed the company for escalating the cost of a drug that's been available since 1953 -- a drug that's a necessary treatment for millions of patients worldwide.
Turing CEO Martin Shkreli, also a former Wall Street hedge fund manager, defended the increase at the time.
"The drug was unprofitable at the former price, so any company selling it would be losing money," he said. "At this price it's a reasonable profit. Not excessive at all."
"Yeah, I could see how it looks greedy," he told CBS News. "But I think there are a lot of altruistic properties to it ... absolutely.
"With these new profits, we can spend all of that upside on these patients who sorely need a new drug, in my opinion."
Following nationwide criticism, however, Shkreli pledged to lower the price of the drug to make it more affordable to patients. Wednesday, though, Turing appeared to have changed its mind -- and stated its belief that lowering the drug's list price wouldn't have much impact on the medicine's affordability.
"A drug's list price is not the primary factor in determining patient affordability and access," Turing Chief Commercial Officer Nancy Retzlaff said in a news release. "A reduction in Daraprim's list price would not translate into a benefit to patients."
Instead, the Swiss biopharmaceutical company said it wants to focus on making Daraprim affordable to hospitals and other medical facilities since that is typically where most patients first receive the treatment. For certain medical facilities, the company said, that 5,000 percent increase will be cut to a 2,500 percent increase.
Health care experts say that's true in the beginning, but they noted that patients will still end up needing to take -- and pay for -- the medication if doctors at the hospitals instruct them to continue treatment at home.
"This is, as the saying goes, nothing more than lipstick on a pig," HIV project director for Treatment Action Group Tim Horn told The New York Times.
Turing said it will still lower the price of the drug for some hospitals and begin selling 30-tablet bottles, as opposed to the more expensive 100-tablet bottles that were previously sold.
Also, the company said some insured patients won't pay any more than $10 per prescription and Daraprim will be available at no cost to uninsured income-limited patients -- a move designed to shift the burden of the drug's cost from patients onto insurance companies and taxpayers.
"By providing affordable access for hospitals and reaffirming our commitment that nearly all patients will receive Daraprim for $10 or less out-of-pocket per prescription," Retzlaff added. "That's what we have done."
Further, Turing said it will participate in state and federal assistance programs, like Medicaid.
"We pledge that no patient needing Daraprim will ever be denied access," Retzlaff said.
Regardless of Turing's reasoning, some say, Daraprim is far more expensive now than it was just four months ago -- which means patients will have to dig deeper to pay for it.
"They are still pricing it way above what the price of the medication should be," Dr. Carlos del Rio, chairman of the HIV Medicine Association, said.
Last month, a competitor announced it will manufacture a version of the drug for about $1 per tablet.