Robots are everywhere...

This morning on CNN, they had an interview with a British gentleman/lawmaker who is asking for some research/investigation into Robot Rights. The concern is that Artificial Intelligence research is pacing (or outpacing) robot design and that we may, at some point in the near future, find ourselves with self-aware devices who may or may not have ideas of their own about what they want to do - would a Roomba really want to spend the rest of its days vacuuming and recharging its batteries? Would you? It was an interesting 2-3 minute discussion...

UPDATE: just posted this.

Okay, next I picked up my latest issue of WIRED magazine that showed up yesterday... flipping through it, I find an article on the Pleo - the little baby dinosaur bot that will be released next year. A little discussion in it about whether this is a true robot... it reminds me that the latest issue of MAKE magazine also covers the Pleo but goes deeper into discussing its "learning" capacity and whether it truly could be considered "alive."

Then, just an hour ago, I visit the bookstore to pick up the latest issue of Scientific American. On the cover is one of the most impressive looking robots I've ever seen. I don't really know if it's functional or just a sculptured work of art, but the joints (the knee and elbow joints are amazing) and the features (hands, feet, etc) make me realize that as computer components continue to shrink, servo motors become more powerful, battery technology moves forward - all of this could very well lead to the robot on that cover. The cover caption is "Dawn of the Age of Robots" - and a picture of our buddy, AlphaRex, is found on page 64. (Turn the page, to 66, and you'll see another "robot" made out of Honda Accord parts imitating Rodin's "The Thinker" in an advertisement!)

UPDATE: A little digging found that the "robot" on the cover is actually a sculpture by Mark Ho. It is extremely life-like. Here are some details on it:

Height: 16.93” (43 cm)
Weight: 13.2 lb (6 kg)
Number of parts: 920 (of which 101 are found in each hand)
Number of mobile parts: 85
Material: Bronze and stainless steel

It really does make me realize that if we're not entering the age of robots now, we soon will be. Just as the PC began to grow in popularity in the early 80's (and the Mac, too!) and is now considered to be a normal fixture in most homes, you can almost see the emergence of robots over the next 20 years. Instead of us talking about the speed of our modems (remember when 14.4bps was so HOT) and whether we want to splurge on a DVD-burner, we'll be comparing notes on our robots' servo motors strength, it's recharge-to-function-time ratio, and whether we want to splurge on the optional True-Voice chip.

The wonder I had as a kid seeing my first PET computer and then typing a program on the Apple II and then moving to the first Mac (with the signatures inside the case!) and beyond... I get this again when I play with the NXT as well as watch my young nephew (last night) snap pieces onto the Brick and tell me where he wants to connect "the eyes" (Ultrasonic sensor). I get to be a kid again...

UPDATE: My friend Tony emailed me this link - plan on spending some time here!



David Levy said…
"I get to be a kid again..."
You get to be santa as well. Your book "LEGO Mindstorms NXT: The Mayan Adventure" is now sitting in a box under my x-mas tree.

I plan on reading it to both my kids age 8 and 5.

-happy holidays

I sell small benchtop CNC milling machines and it's amazing how quickly people are transitioning to small computer controlled machines in the home shop these days. So we're already at the point where most early adopter types have at least one robot/robotic appliance/tool/device in their homes already.
Anonymous said…
into Robot Rights.. OK so I like fresh battries!

All living things are like robots..
We eat to 'recharge'..
Talk to friends to 'recharge'
Sometimes we have sex to really "RECHARGE"...
AND most of us do the same things ALL our lives.. SO we MUST all be Robots!
Anonymous said…
I saw the post by Felice..
Dand Girl! You seem to tell it like it is!
Age: 41.. I have Socks I wear on mt feet that old!
Gender: female .. I love Female!
I have four Daughters and the 'son'
Astrological Sign: Pisces
My wife was a Pisces.. SHE WAS THE GREATEST!

Zodiac Year: Snake .. My wife called me the snake?

About Me
For the past almost 20 (oh my god)years,my husband Nick and I have been supporting ourselves without "real" jobs by making jewelry... I do that now retired..

Due to my supreme laziness and desire to take the easy way out I have stuck to and gotten pretty good at wirework. I love the soft metals of silver and aluminum because I can just use my hands, pliers and a hammer and anvil to make pretty things.I started out with small scale stuff and had fun taking it even smaller (like weaving tiny little baskets)and then going bigger and using 12 gauge aluminum and making our hanging vases and mirrors.

I did that with a Copper plate and made a BIG pot from it in school.. The teacher said it got 'lost'.. My friend was his son.. The 'son' told me he hat it at his house? BUT I got a 'A!'

We now have the cutest little kids in the world Henry,age almost 4 and Max who is 1 1/2. Time for anything beyond parenting and keeping them from killing themselves and us is limited. And sleep is never bountiful hence the need for a lot of good coffee.

God made Children to KEEP YOU awake!
Coffee and the Hubbie.. to make you feel GOOD!

By the way my adopted grandbabies keep this old man alive!
Qubert said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
I think yes..Humanity will go far I see the Robotic movies as I-Robot....must be the real sense of the future...Bit certainly there are some negative points too ...that will sooner rather than later artificial Intelligence or the power to think and act for self is really destructive as it all set to ignite the will to dominate among them...which indeed is a cause of concern......
Anonymous said…
Yeah, I don't think our robotics technology is yet at the level where a single person, excluding the extremely wealthy, can purchase a humanoid robot as advanced as ASIMO. I figure it will take quite some time before it's at all cost-effective for any company to mass-produce such a product, given its limited capabilities and functionality regarding industrial or commercial labor. Why don't you just go with a nice Robosapien until the price goes down?

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