Robotic swarms

Fighter pilots could command drone 'swarms'

From the article:See also: Interplanetary Robots -- similar autonomous agent software.



An artificial cortex has 20 billion neurons

Artificial Development Introduces First CCortex-based Autonomous Cognitive Model

From the article:This is in 2004. Imagine what this research will look like in 2020.



State of the art in social robots

The Leonardo robot is a research project designed to userstand social and teaching/learning relationships between humans and robots.

Robotic Life - sociable robots

There is a great movie on this page that shows a wide range of expressions. There is a simple demo of the vision system available on this page. And so on.

The interesting thing about this trend is the idea that robots will actually be able to emote better than humans in the not-so-distant future.



Robots and air traffic controllers

Staffing crisis looms for isle air traffic control

This article helps explain why the nation's 15,000 air traffic controllers will soon be replaced by robots. First, the median income of a controller is $91,000. If you eliminate 15,000 controllers, you save something on the order of $1.5 billion per year.

No new controllers are being hired, so there is now a "looming crisis" that has been fabricated from this hiring deficit. With a "looming crisis" and $1.5 billion/year in savings, the natural thing to do will be to replace all of the controllers with software.

Once air traffic control is handled by robots, it will be much easier for the robotic controllers to talk to robotic pilots rather than human ones. So all of the pilots will be replaced by robots as well. We are already 75% of the way there with autopilots anyway.

Which is all fine -- this is the natural march of progress. In theory, airline tickets will get cheaper in the process. But what are these tens of thousands of unemployed people going to do?

And what if you would actually like to become a pilot? What if that job sounds appealing? The job simply will not exist anymore -- human pilots will be extremely unsafe when compared to robot pilots. In 20 or 30 years, people will no longer be allowed to fly planes. It will be too dangerous, so it will be forbidden. See also Why robots will replace pilots sooner rather than later and Robotic Nation for details.



Robots and libraries

First of all, one would hope that we will eliminate most libraries over the next 30 years as we completely replace paper books with electronic ones. But for those few libraries that remain, we can replace the librarians with robts:

Robots get bookish in libraries

From the article:According to this page, there are about 167,000 librarians in the U.S.



Really interesting robot movies

This page contains a really interesting set of movies:

Autonomous Assembly by Teams of Coordinated Robots

From the page: "This movie shows the assembly of a four beam truss structure. This complex assembly requires tight coordination between robots, as well as the human operator. At several points during the construction, the human operator provides assistance."


Another Humanoid Robot Chassis

Another company has formed to create a humanoid robot chassis. This one is an offshoot of the University of Southern California (USC). The current model uses 22 motors:

The website for the new company can be found at LivingCreatures.com, and a number of photos and drawings can be found here: USC Humanoid Development Information.



Agricultural robots to take over the farm

Ag. Engineers Create Robot Farmers

From the article:Also:This is the point of Robotic Nation -- nearly every business that we see in the economy today will be a place where "all of the work is being performed by autonomous robots." Every factory, store, restaurant, farm, hospital, airport, amusement park, school, etc. will be staffed by robots, not people. That future is 30 years or so away. See Robotic Nation for details.


A page straight out of Manna

The sci-fi book Manna describes a future where computers take over more and more of the tasks in restaurants and retail stores -- places which employ approximately 20 million Americans today. This article takes a page right out of the book:

The New York Times >A Drive-Through Lane to the Next Time Zone

From the article:He also knows that this call center can move to India, where the costs will be 10x lower. Within 15 years, robotic voice recognition systems will allow these kinds of tasks to be handled completely by robots and kiosks.

Think about how many jobs can already be outsourced to India using this kind of technology (either voice-only or video-phone): bank tellers, job interviewing, directory assistance, tax preparation, security, medicine... The number of jobs we are talking about is immense. See Robotic Nation and these posts for details:


Robotic Surveillance

There are a number of recent articles that all point to one thing: In a very short period of time, every public space will become a place controlled by electronic surveillance. Look at these recent articles:

Smile! It's LAPD camera: Surveillance targeted to convention:$9.4 billion network
to secure Saudi borders

There is also a growing trend toward tracking individuals. For example:

In the short term, these systems will be manned by people. But as vision systems improve, more and more of them will be "manned" by robots.

In theory, these systems will have one extremely beneficial side effect -- there will be a large reduction in crime. Stores and casinos have been using this kind of technology for decades, and it definitely has an effect on crime.

On the other hand, it will allow the creation of huge bubbles designed specifically to exclude people. It is easy to imagine subdivisions, towns, and even entire cities where only the "right people" are allowed in. Imagine going to a city like Washington DC, New York or Palm Springs and being told you may not enter. We cannot imagine it today, but that day will be upon us in the very near future. See also:



I, Robot Roundup

With "I, Robot" now in theaters, here are several prior posts related to this movie:



Robots and the concentration of wealth

Title: Re-slicing The Pie
This article contains a remarkably clear statement of how the concentration of wealth works in America today: To repeat:The profit slice goes to America's wealthiest citizens. 86 percent of American stock is owned by the richest 10 percent of America's population, so nearly all of the profit is going to America's top 10 percent in the form of executive salaries/bonuses and dividends. Meanwhile wages fall for everyone else.

Why is this acceleration in the concentration of wealth occurring? According to the article: Corporations can also spend billions of dollars on congressional lobbyists and campaign contributions. Thus, the minimum wage has not risen since 1997. In that same period, executive pay has skyrocketed -- for example: This concentration of wealth will only increase as computers and robots get more and more capable. See Robotic Nation for details.



"Junior" is the world champion chess computer in 2004

New world computer chess champ crowned

From the article:Also:So we now have computer programs running on "a few desktop computers" that are able to hold their own against the best human players on the planet. Soon the software will run on a single desktop machine. Then it will be able to run as a small background task on a desktop machine. Then it will run on a cell phone. And so on.

The article also says this: "chess programs are widely considered too specialised to have much relevance to research into artificial intelligence." The author is completely missing the point. One way to achieve machine intelligence is through brute force. "Junior" is a brute force chess program. It is the best software available for machine chess, and it is better than human beings at chess.

Another group of robotic researchers will create the best software for walking. Another will create the best software for running. Another will create the best software for shooting baskets in a game of basketball. Another will create software for navigating complex urban environments (streets, buildings, stairs, etc.) on foot. Another will create the best software for driving a car or truck through a city. Another will create the best software for cleaning bathrooms. Another will create the best software for cooking a meal. Another will create the best software for repairing cars. And so on.

When you put all of those pieces of software in a single robot, what you will have is a robot that is better than a human being at walking, running, shooting baskets, navigating complex environments, driving a car or truck, cleaning bathrooms, cooking a meal, repairing cars and playing chess. If you want your robot to do more, you add modules. An "operating system" will help the robot to switch modes between its different areas of expertise. The "intelligence" comes in the robot's ability to do have programs for thousands of different tasks, and to do every one of those tasks better than the best humans.

See Robotic Nation for details.



Humanoid robot kit

This page is hard to read unless you know Korean, but it has a video that plays automatically and tells you most of the story:

KHR-1 Robot

The motion is very fluid. How long will it be before a full size C-3PO chassis is $3,000 and available as a commodity, like white box PCs are today?


Three more reasons pilots will be replaced by robots

Robotic Nation predicts that pilots will be replaced by robots on commerical flights by 2015. However, it may be sooner than that...If a robot can do the job, human beings are out the door. Pilots, unfortunately, are about to see their jobs vanish.

What will pilots do once they are fired? See also this post.



More Hospital Robots

Courier robots get traction in hospitals

From the article:Why the push toward robots like these? Simple economics:And the robots are getting better all the time, so those economics will keep improving. See also robotic hospitals and Robotic Nation.



Latest product assembly robots

Fanuc to Sell World's First Product Assembly Robot, Nikkei Says

From the article:This type of robot will help accelerate the fully automated factory.



Red light cameras spreading rapidly

Red-Light Camera Busts Cheating Wife

From the article:Imagine how this trend develops. "Red light cameras" will be installed at every intersection. The reason they can spread so rapidly is because they generate revenue -- these robots are self-funded. [Similarly, there are already lots of "toll cameras" used to detect people who do not pay at toll booths.] Then there will be "gridlock cameras" that target people who block busy intersections between lights. Then there will be "speeding cameras" along every stretch of roadway. "Parking cameras" will keep track of every car in a parking lot. There will be cameras tracking cars as they enter every subdivision and apartment complex in order to deter crime. Pretty soon the location of your car will be known every minute of every day.

Then the same thing will happen, using facial recognition and similar technologies, to everyone traveling on foot. As you walk into a mall, a store, an office building, a campus, etc., you will be identified and cataloged.

Then the same thing will happen to protect vulnerable resources. We will see robotic cameras and sentries protecting oil pipelines, rail lines, lakes, power plants, electrical transmission lines and substations, airports, highways and bridges, etc.

In general, this will be a good thing because it will bring an end to anonymous crime and terrorism as we know it today. It will also be our introduction to robotic police. We are already acclimating ourselves to red light cameras -- the first form of widespread robotic policing. In not too many years we will be acclimating ourselves to autonomous humanoid police officers.


Soccer robots to clear mine fields

Robots, made for playing soccer, will clear mines in war-torn countries

From the article:



Automation and its effect on jobs

Study: Technology, Not Outsourcing Is The Biggest Threat To Jobs

From the article:Echoing Robotic Nation, the article adds:The common response to these concerns is, "the economy will invent new jobs." What will the new jobs be?

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