Throughout history, innovators have strived to create automata, or robots as we now know them, to augment labor intensive and dangerous human jobs. As far back as 322 BC, Aristotle predicted that fleets of mechanical automata could finally rid the world of the scourge of slavery by taking over backbreaking manual roles forced upon human workers. However, over time as robotics has advanced, Hollywood and the media have become skeptical — and even fearful — of the risks of empowering robots too much. From Terminator to Bladerunner, to I am Robot, portrayals in popular culture have increasingly painted robots which can make decisions, and work together, as a danger to the human race. Do you like good gadgets? Those sweet cool gadgets? Oh, yeah In ‘The discourse is unhinged’: how the media gets AI alarmingly wrong, Oscar Schwartz argues that exaggerated coverage of innovative advances often turns interesting research about AI or robotics into … [Read more...] about We’re missing the ‘Skynet’ to complete our connected robot future
You can run from Boston Dynamic's humanoid robot Atlas, but it wouldn't do you any good — the robot can run after you. In a video shared to YouTube yesterday (May 10) by the robot maker, the uncannily human-like Atlas demonstrates running ability that is eerily reminiscent of a person. The robot jogs methodically across an expanse of grass, against a backdrop of trees punctuated by a few isolated buildings. The scene is almost peaceful and idyllic, except for the pervasive whirring and clanking of Atlas' motors, gears and joints, and the sense of growing unease that comes with witnessing the inexorable approach of our future robot overlords. [Super-Intelligent Machines: 7 Robotic Futures] Boston Dynamics poses the video's title as a question — "Getting some air, Atlas?" —as though Atlas had somehow unexpectedly taken himself outside for a run, on a whim. The robot, described as "the world's most dynamic humanoid" on the Boston Dynamics website, runs at a slow but … [Read more...] about Watch Out, This Robot Could Run After You
Tech & Science Robots CannabisThis article, along with others about the growing legalization of marijuana, is featured in Newsweek’s Special Edition: Weed NationRobots are a touchy subject when it comes to their incorporation into industrial roles currently occupied by humans. On the one hand, the allure of progress and automation is undeniable. An ever more efficient process is one of the fundamental drivers behind our modern market. On the other hand, as more industries are automated, workers are left to worry exactly how they’ll feed themselves and their loved ones in a job market where they have to compete with robots who never get tired, sick, ask for a raise, show up late or any of the other things humans are bound to do at some point.The cannabis industry is no different, with legal investments on a large scale creating a push for cannabis technology that is clashing with the fact that the backbone of the cannabis industry is still old-fashioned … [Read more...] about Will Robots Take Over the Cannabis Industry?
LAS VEGAS (AP) — On a recent evening in Las Vegas during the CES technology show, robot strippers offered a window into technology's gender fault lines — not to mention our robot future. From a distance, the mechanical humanoids on a strip-club stage looked something like real dancers in robot drag. But close up, they were clearly mannequins with surveillance-camera heads and abstractly sculpted feminine chests, buttocks and backs, shimmying and thrusting their boxy plastic hips. On one level, this was a classic Vegas stunt, a cheap way for the club to cash in on the presence of the world's largest tech convention. After all, the android dancers weren't really strippers, since they wore no clothes; in fact, they were barely even robots, since they were tied to their poles and only capable of a limited set of motions. But they still provided some striking parallels to the much bigger tech show nearby. The robots served a racy but utilitarian function by drawing gawkers to … [Read more...] about What robot strippers say about sexism, tech and the future
A robot built at MIT has reportedly set a world speed record for solving a Rubik's Cube, cutting the previous record of 0.637 seconds (set by another robot in 2016) down to just 0.38 seconds. If robots had grandparents, this one's would be very proud. The Rubik's-solving robot was constructed at MIT this January by Ben Katz, a mechanical engineering graduate student, and Jared Di Carlo, an electrical engineering and computer science student, at a student-run hacker lab. According to a news release from MIT, the two became inspired when they noticed a design flaw in footage of the previous robot record-holder, a compact sphere of whirling motors created by German engineer Albert Beer. [Super-Intelligent Machines: 7 Robotic Futures] "We watched the videos of the previous robots, and we noticed that the motors were not the fastest that could be used," Di Carlo said in a statement. "We thought we could do better with improved motors and controls." In their new speed-solving bot, Katz … [Read more...] about Watch a Robot Solve a Rubik’s Cube in 0.38 Seconds