Outsourcing teachers

India set to tutor Silicon Valley

From the article:Also:Teaching will turn into a minimum wage job through the following process.

Teaching today primarily focuses on end-of-grade tests. We will break down the teaching into modules that cover all of the different sections of end of grade testing, and then create computer-aided-education software and robots to do that teaching. The software will far surpass anything we see in classrooms today. Produced by educational publishers with budgets of millions of dollars, the software will include video, games, remediation, tailored quizes to measure progress, etc.

Students who don't make the grade will be handled by near-minimum-wage or foreign tutors. The traditional "teacher" that we think of today will largely vanish. See also:


Screens at each table

Playing It Again - The inventor of Pong and founder of Chuck E. Cheese is getting back into the restaurant game.

From the article: There's the "interactive menu" idea again, as mentioned in Robotic Nation.

See also:


Space Drone

SpaceShipOne’s White Knight used for X-37 tests

From the article:This is the orbital version of the drones discussed in the previous post


Drones in the military

Attack of the Drones

From the article:See also:



Robot vision

University Of Manchester Develops Vision Chip For New Generation Of 'Human' Robots The eyes have it for 'human' robots

From the article:The eyes have it for 'human' robots

From the article:


Humans cause problems

Wired News: Computers No Cure for Dumb Docs

From the article:Why did they die?In other words, humans are dangerous to other humans. That will provide a strong impetus to go robotic as quickly as possible.

See also Robot surgeons and Pilots and robots for details on other dangerous humans.


Developmental Spiral

This is an interesting article that tries to predict how the world of technology will evolve over the next 50 years of so: Developmental Spiral. From the article:


Intelligent Robotics Research Center

Engadget visits the Intelligent Robotics Research Center at the Korean Institute of Science and Technology

From the article:Nice photo too.



Business opportunity: The Vienna dog dropping problem

Austria Lawmaker Wants to ID Dog Droppings

This article is fascinating on several different levels. But let's take it at the business level. Here in the U.S. we are doing things like the Grand Challenge. In Vienna, however, the challenge is much smaller, and it seems like it is solvable with today's technology. The article states:Here is the interesting part from a business perspective:If there are 50,000 dogs, and each leaves one pile per day, and it costs about 5 bucks to clean up one pile, that's $250,000 per day. Eight days of poop-scooping equals the total prize package for the Grand Challenge.

Surely Vienna would be willing to pay, what, $50,000, for a robot that can sniff out and clean up this mess. The city would probably need to buy 20 of them to handle the whole city, but that is still a bargain.

Perhaps what Vienna needs to do is have a Grand Challenge of its own and see if robotic creativity can solve this problem.


An advanced robot hand

Shadow Robot Company: Commercial Hand

From the site:There are several nice videos available on the home page. Order yours today...


Unlimited power

The Mad Genius from the Bottom of the Sea

From the article:"enough energy to supply a thousand times the world's needs." sounds like a lot of energy. It also sounds like the end of the fossil fuel economy.


DVDs storing 500 GB

Nano-Grating DVDs could store 100 times more

From the article:See also Teraflop performance in the new Xbox and Holographic Storage starts at 300 GB per disc.


Where are the robots?

A robot in your future?

From the article:There are a few more home robots than that. See Home robots you can buy (including the comments) for a good list of what is out there.

It sounds very much like Engelberger was just slightly ahead of his time. Back in the 1950s, people were also predicting chess computers. We did not get chess computers able to beat great human chess players until the 1990s (see Inexpensive Chess Computer Holds Its Own Against Grand Master), and that took highly specialized hardware. It took 40 years for there to be enough CPU power to compete with the human brain in the field of chess.

Robots need even more CPU power, especially for tasks like vision processing. That is what has held robots back. However, the needed amount of CPU power will become available within the next 20 years or so. At that point, the floodgates will open. See Robotic Nation and Manna for details.


Video game controllers and Manna

This SadTech post on Video game controllers is directly related to Manna and Vertebrane.



Robot guards

Remote Detection, Challenge, and Response System (REDCAR)

From the article:The article offers details on each of the three platforms. According to this article, the Air Force has started testing the REDCAR system in Wyoming.


Robot mop

Hate mopping? Let a robot do it

Roomba is about to get a friend named Scooba. From the article:


Robot nanny

Go-with-you robot sidekick unveiled

From the article:Toshiba welcomes ApriAttenda to robot family

From the article:The idea is to create a robot that can keep up with a child or an adult, carry packages, and generally hang around in case something goes wrong. It is the first step toward the robotic Nanny. If you gave it a gun or a Taser, it might be the first step toward a robotic body guard.



Computers simulating the human brain

Ashes to ashes, brain to disk

From the article:The article leaves out the interesting part -- how this might be done?


Robot Recreates Human Speech

Just last night I was watching Shrek 2 with my daughter. There was a little "making of" segment that came with it, and we were watching how the body and face of Shrek are controlled by hundreds of sliders -- on-screen controls that move every little "muscle" in Shrek's body.

We have replaced the bodies of human actors. So I was wondering, "how long until we control the voice in just the same way, and no longer need the voices of human actors either?"

Today I find this article on a robot that mimics the human organs for speech:From the article: "The only robot that uses human-like organs to mimic speech was unveiled recently by engineers at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan." It has a nice photo and a short video.


Jobs suck

The tag line for this video from Verizon is quite simple:And these three jobs do suck.

Jobs suck for two reasons. First, there are many jobs that need to be done in our economy that no one wants to do. No one says to himself or herself at age 9 or 10, "One day I hope to be scrubbing toilets at McDonald's", or emptying portable toilets or whatever. Tens of millions of jobs in the economy are like that -- no one would do them voluntarily.

So why do people fill those jobs? Because of the second reason why jobs suck: people have no choice. Once you turn 18, either you work or you become homeless. The equation is "work for the benefit of someone else, or starve to death." [yes, you do have the option of starting your own business, but not at age 18 -- you have to work for someone else to raise enough capital to start a business.]

So, for example, if you work for Wal-Mart, your efforts help fund nearly two billion dollars per year in dividends for shareholders (and nearly half of that $2B goes to a tiny handful of people). Your efforts help to buy Wal-Mart thousands of acres of real estate that is owned by shareholders. Your efforts fund incredible executive salaries and a fleet of executive jets. And so on. People, in general, do not work at Wal-Mart by choice. They work there because the equation is, "work, or starve to death" and no better job is available. Their work primarily benefits a tiny portion of the population that is concentrating wealth at a remarkable pace.

Now robots move in and take a majority of jobs. The Robotic Wal-Mart becomes a reality and displaces approximately ten million retail employees. Robotic fast food restaurants displace millions more. Robotic truck drivers eliminate a million human truck drivers. Robotic construction workers replace five million human construction workers. And so on. Robots compete with humans in every job category. What do these tens of millions of workers now do to make a living? Traditionally the economy creates new jobs, but never before have robots competed for jobs with humans in every job category.

The question we should be asking ourselves, as robots move in and take all these jobs, should be, "How do we eliminate the need for forced labor in our society?" How, in other words, do we eliminate the "work or starve" equation, so that humans have economic freedom? Robots give us the opportunity to consider this question seriously. See Robotic Freedom for details.


Volkswagen's Grand Challenge Entry

Behind the wheel: nobody

From the article:


First automatic landing onto a ship

QinetiQ achieves world's first automatic landing of a STOVL aircraft onto a ship

From the article:It certainly does reduce workload... to the point where the pilot is no longer needed. See Robotic Nation for details. See also: Successful X-45 robotic bomber.


Italian R2-D2 robot

Star Wars, ricercatori italiani creano un "vero" droide R2-D2

This article shows us two things:The original article is in Italian. When you run the original article through the Goggle "Italian to English" converter you get stuff like this:And this:The translation is nearly impenetrable, but does indicate that this sounds a lot like a PC-bot.


Cat robot videos

These may have been around for awhile, but a faithful reader sent in the link this weekend:



Programmable matter

'Programmable matter' one day could transform itself into all kinds of look-alikes

From the article:What is so amazing about the Robotic Nation is that robots can take so many different forms.


NASA and robots

NASA developing human-like robots

From the article:See also: Propulsion breakthrough boosts NASA robots

See also: A revolutionary mission to Mars.


Robots in the Army

Cutting-edge robotics head for battle

From the article:Nice overview of seberal different trends.


More on robot swarms

USATODAY.com - Latest buzz words in science: Robot swarms

Gridswarm and Ultraswarm projects put Bluetooth into fleets of unmanned aircraft

See also: Gridswarm robots



Robots and Evolution

Inventing Our Evolution

From the article:Here is one way to look at it: In order to compete with the robots in the Robotic Nation, humans will have to get better. Technological enhancements to the human body and mind are the only way to do that.

But there is no way to compete. At some point, you cannot increase the processing power of the brain without increasing the number of neurons, and there comes a point where the number of neurons makes the size/shape of the human head grotesque. On the other hand, robotic intelligence can increase at a rate of 2x every two years, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future (see for example this post).

Yes, you can graft computers into the human brain, but at some point the computational intelligence dwarfs the human intelligence it is augmenting. At that point, the human body becomes, essentially, a robot, controlled by the computational intelligence.

But robotic bodies will be so much more capable than human bodies in the near future -- stronger, faster, specialized to tasks, etc. -- that there is no point in creating a robotic human body. (see Mission to Mars)

Robots will eventually win. Then what?


Students build police robot

Students build police robot

From the article:


Gridswarm robots

Couple Receive Grant to Develop Robots:

From the article:See also: Gridswarms



In-body fuel cells

IOL: Science & Tech

From the article:The Vertebrane system in Manna is powered by a system like this.


More on the White Box robot

A Robot for the Home, Brains Not Included

See also White Box Robotics.


Electronic menu system

I know that when I first published Robotic Nation, many people thought that the kiosk system used in McDonalds would not spread. It is true that McDonald's backed away from their kiosk program, at least temporarily. However, the idea is alive and well. Here are three examples:We will see how long it takes these ideas to spread...


Bugs controlling robots

Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine: Project Overview

From the article:


What is thinking?


If robots are going to start to "think" in the human sense, this site provides some guidance on what is required.

It is important to note that the other way to achieve "intelligence" is through brute force. See this post for details.



Nuclear batteries

Personal Nuclear Power: New Battery Lasts 12 Years

From the article: See also Toshiba's one-minute recharge battery, world's smallest fuel cell and Better battery breakthrough.


Teraflop performance in new Xbox

Custom PowerPC Drives New Xbox 360 To Teraflop Performance

From the article:Moore's law keeps on moving. See also Moore's law and Moore's law and processors.


The state of home robots

Where's My Robotic Maid?

From the article: Also:



Looking at Star Wars from a Robotic Nation perspective

With Episode 3 about to come out, I decided to re-watch the existing library of Star Wars films to get myself "Mentally Prepared." I was absolutely amazed at the number of anachronisms in the original Star Wars movie, and wrote them up in Watching Star Wars 28 years later.

I am not talking about the obvious things like "space ships make no noise in a vacuum." People have been talking about stuff like that for decades. What I am talking about are things that would be absolutely impossible in a society this advanced -- things that will be impossible even in our own society in just 20 or 30 years. Things like human soldiers wearing cotton cargo pants with matching shirts into battle, or the fact that the princess has to insert physical media into R2-D2:

Click here to read the article.



High-Tech Robot Skin

NASA - High-Tech Robot Skin: "The idea is to develop a 'sensitive skin' that technicians could use to cover a robot. This skin will include more than 1,000 infrared sensors that would detect an object, and send the information to the robot's 'brain.' The brain would digest the information, apply reasoning and react within milliseconds by directing the robot to move. Future skin prototypes likely will have a higher density of sensors on the skin, which will provide the robots with even greater dexterity."



More and more robots

Taking no Chances: Mercedes adds robots, suppliers for M-Class plant as part of quality effort

The article talks about a new Mecedes-Benz plant in the U.S. The new factory has a cost of $600 million and replaces "what already was one of North America's youngest auto plants." From the article:Obviously the end point for this kind of automation is the eventual extinction of human workers in the factory.

Why the desire to completely eliminate humans? The main reason is the cost, but humans are also mistake-prone, work only eight hours a day and they get sick and pregnant. This article (and hundreds of others right now) point out that: "The world's largest automaker [GM] spent $5.2 billion last year to cover 1.1 million salaried and hourly employees, retirees and family members. GM has said that could grow to $5.8 billion this year." $5.2 billion works out to well over $1,000 per car. Never mind the salaries of the workers. If a car company eliminates the humans, the cost of a car can go way down.

From a consumer standpoint, lower car prices are good. From an employee standpoint, eliminating millions of factory jobs is good if there are better jobs that are waiting to be filled. The problem is that, for most factory workers who get fired, the new job will be worse, not better -- it pays less and has less benefits. The headline for this article says it all:This is the problem that we face in the Robotic Nation. Robots eliminate jobs so quickly, and take over so many jobs, that job creation cannot keep pace. That, combined with the concentration of wealth means that things get worse, not better, and we begin heading toward Manna.


Iris Scanning becoming mainstream

Iris Scanning To Begin At Orlando International Airport

From the article:See Manna for details.



Rudimentary self-replication

Self-replicating robot created

There is a free video to watch. This certainly is not C-3PO sitting down and building a clone of himself (won't that be cool), but it is a start. From the article:



Conscious airplanes

The White House and Capitol in Washington DC were evacuated today because a small Cessna 150 airplane strayed into restricted airspace:In this case it appears to have been a complete accident -- the pilot was a student.

Within 10 years or so, airplanes will start being equipped with a rudimentary form of consciousness that makes this sort of accident, as well as intentional attacks, impossible. The book Manna, chapter 3, describes the progression.

The system will work like this. Airplanes can already detect their exact location using GPS systems. These GPS systems will be married to very detailed digital maps of the ground and the airspace over the ground. The maps will tell the airplane where every single building and structure is on the ground, and mark all areas of restricted airspace. So if a pilot steers a plane toward a building or a restricted area, a "conscious" plane will refuse to fly there. It will be, quite literally, impossible for a conscious plane to fly into a building -- the plane will "know" that flying into a building is "wrong." If all the engines fail, a conscious plane will know what is on the ground in the vicinity and do its best to crash into an unpopulated area.

As this happens, of course, planes are able to fly themselves. Pilots go extinct, and airplanes become completely automatic. Human pilots are eliminated from the cockpit because they cannot be trusted. See Manna and Robotic Nation for details.


Binocular vision

nDepth Processor and Cores

From the site:As vision systems get better and better, robotic functionality will increase dramatically. See Robotic Nation for details.



brains and robotics

Monkeys' brains change to move robotics

From the article:It seems like it will be true of All humans, not just handicapped ones.


Robots hunting tuna

ScanEagle Robot Plane Shows Promise With USMC in Iraq

From the article:Hunting tuna with a robot airplane...


Robot zoo

Robot 'zoo' is a class act

From the article:



Thinking machines

Whatever happened to machines that think?

From the article:


Wireless detention

Call My Cell - Why GPS tracking is good news for inmates.

From the article:About 120,000 people are being monitored this way currently.

Companies providing the technology include:The article is interesting at several different levels.


Team Robo Monster

On the Grand Challenge front, I received several messages last week from Team Robo Monster. One indicates that, on May 11, DARPA officials will be visiting for the team's safety briefing. According to the note, "This is a day we all have been working very hard for. It is a crucial qualifier as about 80 teams will be eliminated to leave only 40 in the running."



More detail on the giant exoskeleton being built by Carlos Owens in Alaska:

Don't call it a robot

From the article:See also:

Man behind the ‘mech’ brings sci-fi dream to life



Wal-Mart and Robots

Can't Wal-Mart, a Retail Behemoth, Pay More?

From the article:Articles like this demonstrate why companies like Wal-Mart have such a strong desire to go robotic. With robots running the stores instead of humans, all of these pay issues fall away. Plus, the store can stay open 24 hours a day. And customer service will actually get better.

The article Robots in 2015 argues that the robotic Wal-Mart is just not that far away. From the article:The article Robots to help out blind shoppers discusses a new robot for the blind, saying, "Computer scientists in the US have developed a robot that could help blind people to shop or find their way around large buildings. It uses radio frequency identification tags to locate items and a laser range finder to avoid collisions." That very same technology is what will guide the restocking robots in the stores.

At about the same time, the robotic technology being developed in the Grand Challenge will be bearing fruit, and one to two million truck drivers will be becoming unemployed.

At about the same time, Robotic call centers will be eliminating most of the call center jobs that remain in the U.S.

And so on...

See Robots in 2015 and Robotic Nation for details.


Grocery store robots

New computers make grocery carts smarter

From the article:It is very easy to imagine, in the not-too-distant future, a version of this that talks, and is upselling you as you walk down the aisle. Not too far beyond that will be the device that can listen to you and understand you like any human being would, so you carry on a complete conversation with your grocery cart.


Robots and speech

IBM, Cisco link speech products

From the article:As with the Robotic Wal-Mart, the robotic call center is just not that far away.


Robots to help out blind shoppers

Robots to help out blind shoppers

From the article:This same technology will be guiding restocking robots in Wal-Mart and making the robotic Wal-Mart a reality. In the process, million of people will be out of work. See Robots in 2015 for details.


An overview of Samsung

Seoul Machine

From the article:Now, imagine a company like this moving into robots for the home and office. It is inevitable, and the pace of development will be ferocious once a company like Samsung fully engages.



White Box Robotics

Getting ready for a May 10th launch:

White Box Robotics


CPUs and heat

Many people are worried that heat production is going to slow down the progress of microprocessor development and somehow derail Moore's Law. One short-term solution to the problem is Multi-core chips.

Another solution is new technology when fabricating chips. This article shows how that path is paying off:

AMD Athlon64 "Venice" - May Low Power be with you!

From the article:High-end Pentium 4 chips dissipate over 100 watts. This article shows that AMD is able to cut the power requirements by a factor of two to four.


Robots and soccer

I, football-playing humanoid

From the article:Also:See also Sony's QRIO Robots.


Robots on the moon

Robots Will Search for Lunar Water Deposits

From the article:See also Robots in space


Space elevators

Going up - way, way, way, way up

From the article:


Robots and hobbyists

This may be true in the U.S., but certainly not in Asia:

Robots' future in hobbyists' hands

This is why Japan, Korea, China, etc. are likely to dominate the robotics marketplace. They have a huge head start.



The rise of Kiosks

Service gets lost in self-serve world

From the article:This is straight out of Robotic Nation.


Robot pets

Copycat pets praised as model companions

From the article:Nice photos in the article.


Qrio robot in preschools

Sony's Qrio robot attending nursery school in California

From the article:See also More robot teachers.


Heads up displays

Gates' sights set on automobiles with his gizmos

From the article:This is a precursor to Vertebrane.



Robots in space

Robots in space the next frontier

From the article:See also: Robots and NASA and Robot repair.


Robot cameras in the sky

Lawman likes eye in sky as monitor

From the article:AlsoSee also Cameras in cabs and Robots in teams.


Rolling eyes

Rolling Camera Eyeballs Danger

From the article:


Robots and children

Studies recharge Computer Science

From the article:

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