Check out this DARPA
prototype of a 4-legged robot that can navigate rugged, complex and
slippery terrain. It is very odd to see something so alive moving
around so normally minus a head, lungs and tail. Expect this
product to soon be adapted for war, entertainment and then
eventually commercial purposes. (Props to mathew ingram for the
awesome and, as he puts it, creepy link.)
The potential replacement of humans by robots
for love and sex is not shocking, it is preferable. It could be
more satisfying for everyone, sexually and emotionally. Just as the
simultaneous relationships of polyamory require a more mature level
of self-knowledge and interpersonal communication, so too could
synthetic partners take human skill sets to a whole new level. What
would it be like to have a relationship with an AI that knows you
better than you know yourself?
Sex with robots is far more efficient, it avoids the whole
search problem and many other problems. Randomness, variability,
and exploration are lauded, applauded and possible, not shunned and
shamed. Not to mention far more acceptable than being gay or
non-mainstream sexually in any way in current society.
Adios taboos. How could sex with robots be avoidable in a
society demanding ever higher levels of self-expression and
There are too many other dynamics in interhuman relationships
for ongoing sexual fulfillment, a quick glance at craigslist will
easily confirm this. Sex could become like going to the bathroom,
something most people prefer to do alone without other humans
around. It is very personal.
In a recent report,
The World in 2030, futurologist Ray Hammond predicts that over the
next two to three decades, breakthroughs in computing, healthcare,
communications, and robotics could mark the beginning of the end
for human evolution as it has progressed over the last two million
“As machines surpass the intellectual capacity of humans,”
Hammond says, “they will become a companion species on Earth, but
could eventually turn into humanity’s successors.” However, with
biotech and nanotech advances expected in the 2010s and 2020s, humans
will be able to enhance their physical and cognitive abilities and
by as early as the 2030s, technologies could enable humans to
interface with these super-intelligent creations and share their
vast information-processing abilities.
Today, we are increasingly reliant on computers, cell phones,
robot vacuum cleaners, and automated TV programming systems such as
Tivo. These machines are considered “dumb” inanimate objects, but
experts believe that is about to change.
In the 2010s, household gadgets will begin to take on what some
call a “computer personality,” and serve as companion to family
members. At first, these helpful companions will be a digital image
– a talking avatar displayed on computer screens, cell phones, and
TVs. The avatars will eventually be embedded in clothing and
jewelry and later, enter our bodies as nano-implants beneath the
skin; and by mid-2020s, a more intelligent avatar will appear in
Robot companions will be incredibly smart. Projects like
IBM’s effort to build an artificial brain and
Farm goal to capture and store human thought could, some
experts believe, enable robots to gain consciousness. Our
companions could one day feel joy, fear, compassion, and other
emotions just like we do.
It sounds like a prediction right out of “The Singularity Is Near,” but this one is from Antonio López Peláez, a professor of sociology at Spain’s National Distance Learning University, UNED, and co-author of the study on the future social impact of robots, jointly carried out with the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies. International experts working on inventing and adapting cutting edge robots for practical use were interviewed during the study, in order to find out by when we will be regularly using the models they are currently designing. All agreed on 2020 as a technological inflection point, because by then robots “will be able to see, act, speak, manage natural language and have intelligence, and our relationship with them will have become more constant and commonplace”, said López Peláez. This will follow a revolution in robotics after which they will no longer be sophisticated machines, but tools to be used on a daily basis, helping us with a large number of work and social activities. He goes on to say even more significant will be the insertion of robots into our bodies, such as intelligent implants in the brain, which will improve our rational thought, and nanorobots to be released into the blood to clean our arteries. You can find the article here.
AI(Artificial Intelligence) and IE (Intelligence Enhancement) is all hype. Nonsense!
While I am still skeptical, I am inclined to agree based on developments of the past few years. More and more I am seeing major breakthroughs in computer science and we are reaching specific milestones that were correctly predicted to happen. The memristor,the missing fourth electronic circuit element, was created just this year by HP (Hewlett Packard). The circuit element had only been described in a series of mathematical equations written by Leon Chua, who in 1971 was an engineering student studying non-linear circuits. Chua knew the circuit element should exist -- he even accurately outlined its properties and how it would work.It has been theorized that it may lead to instant-on PCs as well as analog computers that process information the way the human brain does.
If you’re a big Transformers fan, as am I,
then you’re going to dig this video of a new robot that can drive
on wheels one moment, then reconfigure to walk on eight legs the
Seeing this functional version of a bot that can change its form
leads me to believe that multi-function, multi-shape robots are
likely to be the future. I mean, why not cram as many features as
you can into a single robot? We’re already doing that with every
other device ever made.
Personal robots have been a long time coming, but scientists now
say we can expect revolutionary machines that surpass human
physical and intellectual abilities within 22 years.
Today’s robots are mostly industrial types found in factories.
An example would be an arm that inserts a product into a box and
places it on a conveyor belt. Domestic robots in the service area –
vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, and security systems – are just
beginning to find their way into homes. UN statistics show
worldwide robotics sales increasing by double digits every year,
which has encouraged a host of companies to invest aggressively in
Robo-pets like Sony’s Aibo and NEC’s PaPeRo,
priced from $2,000 to $5,000, are pleasing children and providing
companionship for handicapped and elderly people around the globe.
Available soon in the $10,000 to $30,000 range will be human-like
robots such as Sony Qrio, Honda Asimo, and Toyota
These realistic marvels can speak and understand crude language,
recognize family members by sight, and perform many butler, chef,
and maid services.
European scientists, inspired by human biology, have created the
world’s first shape-shifting robot. This amazing machine has the
ability to morph into different shapes. It can start off as a small
car with four wheels. If it approaches an impassible wall, it
searches for a hole or crack and transforms itself into a snake.
After passing through the hole, it might encounter a staircase
where it would transform into a climbing device, go up the stairs,
and then become a car again. (cont.)
Futurist and professor Paul Saffo thinks
that just as Japan will transition to a robotic society, so too
will the United States and the rest of the world. He predicts the
transition over here will be “more messy” and that a booming
robotic manufacturing industry could potentially devastate the
“New technology may destroy old jobs, but it also creates more
jobs than it destroys,” explains Saffo in a recent Fora interview (see below), but
“that may not be the case with the world of ubiquitous
He points out that rapidly advancing robotics are replacing
large manufacturing chunks one industry at a time. “What you see
are industries calving off like icebergs, just a whole industry
drops away, suddenly the human operators disappear,” he says.
Atop a garbage heap amidst the expansive Westchester Landfill an iRobot Refuse Quantifier (iRQ) deftly went about its lucrative business.
Credit card receipt: inconclusive. Candy wrapper: M&M logo, no fingerprint. Check fragment: inconclusive. Candy wrapper: M&M logo, no fingerprint. Candy wrapper: Almond Joy, smudged fingerprint, image stored to temporary cache. Comb: zoom, hair strand: 92% match. Load level 2 protocols. Letter fragment: stamp fragment, zoom, puncture, contaminated sample. Product box fragment: Nintendo Wii logo, burnt, no data. Shredded tax documents: inconclusive, coordinates tagged in case of reassembly contingent on identity correlation.
The mechanical spider legs pumped and the little scavenger-bot systematically inched left, establishing a better focus point for its frontal laser array. The iRQ began scanning the next set of coordinates.
An identity match for a primary target had been established! Power surged from the tertiary battery outward as the spider maxed both input and broadcast. But something was wrong. The swarm network was not responding. Thus it was highly probable that the iRQ was now invisible to its peers and ultimately its owner.
Re-broadcast for 3 seconds. No ping back. Defensive algorithm, blend. Scan for disruption, risk assessment. Attempt new frequencies. Multiple frequencies inoperable. 84% deliberate disruption, 62% location awareness, evasive algorithm.
If you’ve never taken the time to watch the TV series Ghost in the Shell: The Standalone Complex, I suggest you do. Looking past the nearly nude and obviously impossibly-hot characters, you’ll find a near-future society that relies so much on technology to survive that everyone needs a mechanical implant of some sort. In fact, the only people not outfitted with some sort of body-enhancing component are the homeless. And while the cyborg cops race around Tokyo searching for criminals and hackers, you’re given a glimpse at a possible future that is both Utopian and Dystopian in nature.
On the one hand you have incredible technology that can allow even the most handicapped the ability to function at a high level in society. On the other hand it leaves just about everyone vulnerable to personal body hacking by the ill-intentioned. People get their memories wiped, are programmed to commit acts of violence, and if rescued are unable to restore their old lives and memories (ghost hacking). It’s a very yin-and-yang situation.
The reason I bring this up is that it was the first thing that sprang to mind upon reading a recent article detailing how pace-makers are now being hacked wirelessly.
We've already seen thought-controlled avatars, so it comes as no surprise that robotics represents a new frontier for brain computer interfaces (BCIs). Still, the following video of a human controlling Honda's Asimo via BCI marks a profound socio-technological development, offering a glimpse into the future of work, entertainment and security:
Isn't it interesting that this didn't make its way through national media channels? Just a few years ago human-BCI-controlled robotics would have been perceived as revolutionary.
The Hexapod was created by Micromagic Systems, a company that
builds and designs animatronics and robotics for film and TV. The
video below, part of a series and originally posted here
on youtube, shows the Hexapod’s new ability to write with a pen.
Translation and Rotation moves were sent to the Hexapod’s p.Brain
engine, which only recognizes lines and why the arcs and circles
are segmented. The plan, they state, is to replace the pen with a
routing head in an effort to cut something. Check it out:
Some future uses of this robot could be in war by entities like
DARPA, in film production for those
hard-to-get shots, to replace skyscraper window-washers, etc.
Now, I’m no brain surgeon, but I have followed the progress that
Intuitive Surgical has been making in the
field of robotic-assisted prostectomies, and it might interest you
to know that in 2005 the company was performing less 1% of all
prostectomies. Today, it is performing over 50%!
The reason this is occurring is because the da Vinci robot (which is still
controlled by a surgeon using a computer) is so precise that the
surgery is only minimally invasive, and this allows the patient to
leave the hospital in one to two days. Patients who have a
traditional operation must stay five to seven days. Of course, this
extra stay costs hospitals a great deal of money and they now have
a vested interest in switching patients over to the robotic-asisted
surgery. Not surprisingly, convincing patients to undergo a
robotic-assisted operation has been made easier because they are
not only told the scar will be much smaller but they will also get
out of the hospital much sooner.
The NeuroArm and similar neurosurgical robots are the wave of
the future. They may not be performing many operations today, but
my guess is that just as Intuitive Surgical’s Da Vinci robots now
control the prostectomy market, neurosurgical robots will contol
the brain surgery market in 5 to 10 years.
If you are so inclined, I recommend the following 10-minute
video from Wired Science which shows how the da Vinci robot is now
beginning to assist with heart surgery: (cont.)