Tag Archives: Robots

Get your next generation MIT robots hot from the oven!

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The MIT researcher Daniela Rus is most likely one of the institute’s leading experts on a couple of things. One is puns and word play involving ‘baked’ and marijuana. And the other is how to create robots in new and innovative ways.

Rus has found a way of creating robots by baking them.

“Rus’ project involves cutting out and “printing” plastic materials that change shape when baked, essentially allowing for self-forming objects that build themselves,” TechCrunch reports.

“But producing the pattern of slits is not as simple as just overlaying them on an origami crease pattern and adjusting the widths accordingly, Rus says. “You’re doing this really complicated global control that moves every edge in the system at the same time,” she says. “You want to design those edges in such a way that the result of composing all these motions, which actually interfere with each other, leads to the correct geometric structure.”,” MIT say of the new method in a press release.

More importantly, MIT released this video of how to bake a robot:

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US Killer Robot Policy – No. 5 gets to press the fire button

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When the US Defence Secretary signed the deliciously named directive 3000.09, he was, in effect, launching the world’s first national policy on killer robots.

The purpose of the directive is split in two and reads like this:

“This Directive:

a.Establishes DoD policy and assigns responsibilities for the development and use of autonomous and semi – autonomous functions in weapon systems, including manned and unmanned platforms.

b. Establishes guidelines designed to minimize the probability and consequences of failures in autonomous and semi – autonomous
weapon systems that could lead to unintended engagements.”

So basically, it’s about who get to develop killer robots, and who we get to point the blame at, should the killer robots go all Robocop 2 on everyone.

It was released last year, but according to a thourhgly researched and very interesting article in the rather niche publication Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the policy actually:

“[…] fully supports developing, testing, and using the technology, without delay. Far from applying the brakes, the policy in effect overrides longstanding resistance within the military, establishes a framework for managing legal, ethical, and technical concerns, and signals to developers and vendors that the Pentagon is serious about autonomous weapons.”

What this means is that not only are we likely to see various arms manufacturers enter a race to build real versions of the No. 5 Robot from Short Circuit (minus the actual short circuiting and evolving feelings from jumping on a frog), but that one piece of legislation has achieved the nigh on impossible feat of horrifying human rights organisations and military drone operators at the same time. .

The robots are coming for half your jobs!

According to recent research, about half of all jobs in the US are vulnerable to computerization.

What does that mean?

Well, take a look at your computer. See it? Right, imagine that it has a kid – a super smart, maybe even mobile kid, which is going to be a mix of computer and robot – a robuter or combot, if you like…although the latter somehow sounds a bit dirty… Over the coming 20 years or so, that kid and its classmates might do up to 45 per cent of the jobs that you and your fellow meat bags do at the moment.

According to the research, the takeover is going to happen in two stages. First, the robot/computers are going to claim transportation/logistics, production labour, and administrative support as their domains. Of course, administrative support is already theirs, and both productions labour and certain parts of transportation are already dominated by computers. Just think of autopilots.

Some positions in services, sales, and construction might also end up going to robots in this first stage.

The ‘second wave’, as it were, could mean computers taking over jobs in management, science and engineering – as well as the arts.

The latter might lead to a massive resurgence for cubist art…and to ballets with ballerinas that can do 750 pirouettes a minute. So count me in.

20,000 robots are building your iPods

The massive Apple, Microsoft and Sony subcontractor Foxconn have released an update on its stated goal of using a million robots to build iPods and other products.

According to the company’s director, Terry Gou, the company now has around 20,000 robots in its factories.

The long-term goal of Foxcoon is to use robots to replace many of the 1.2 million workers it currently employs.

Does George Lucas hate robots?

Photo by: Danipilze
Photo by: Danipilze

They’re sentient, but they seem to get popped quicker than popcorn in the microwave – and no-one bats an eyelid. Even one of the central characters has his memory wiped – and all his ‘friend’, a little sepository – shaped bleep-bot on roller skates, does is laugh!

We’re talking bots in Star Wars, and about the question: Why does George Lucas hate them so?

Battle droids are constantly being blown to smithereens, all sort of bots are deactivated left, right and centre and C-3PO has his memory wiped. Yes, in the Star Wars universe it’s hard to be a robot. The only one to make it from start to finish with his memories intact is R2-D2, and he gets shot several times.

So is it a problem? Well, seeing as the robots in Star Wars seem to be sentient and capable of delivering far better jokes than, say, Jar Jar Binks, then I would say yes. But then again, maybe the whole thing about robot people is a Bible reference? The fact that droids have become sentient means that they can no-longer have the bliss of ignorance?

Or, as C-3PO puts it:

Killer robots and human rights – it’s on!

Killer robots. Two words that you’d usually find in science fiction books and film manuscripts – or in heated discussions on sci-fi fan forums where Asimov’s three rules of robots are often invoked as the final gospel.

Whether or not Asimov was thrown on the table at the UN this week is hard to say, but the United Nations did find themselves discussing killer robots.

The central question raised was: Should robots be allowed to take a human life, without direct supervision or command?

The reason behind the question being raised is that several countries are developing robotic weapons that can automatically aim and fire weapons at objects they perceive as threats / legitimate targets.

The new ‘killer robots’ mean that fewer soldiers will be in harm’s way in a future war-zone, but it does raise issues about how trustworthy robots are on a battlefield.

I know it’s a bit old school, but in my book a good illustration of just how wrong war can go when robots run rampant is the movie WarGames. A computer starts out playing tic-tack-toe and within a week it’s on the cusp of starting a nuclear war…