Tag Archives: robots

BOSTON DYNAMIC’S ROBOT DOGS MADE THEIR WAY INTO POLICE WORK

If you’re familiar with sci-fi anthology series called Black Mirror, you might think of one of the episodes from the 5th season titled “Metalhead”. Apparently, it’s not a fiction anymore, it’s our today’s reality.

The robot dog named Spot is an invention that Boston Dynamics started first developing out of MIT. According to the state’s nonprofit branch called American Civil Libertie Union, these robots are now working with the Massachusetts State Police’s bomb squad.
The ACLU  accessed a memo of agreement document between the state and Boston Dynamics through a public records request.
The request letter that the organization wrote in the records is the following: “The ACLU is interested in this subject and seeks to learn more about how your agency uses or has contemplated using robotics.”.
The ACLU collected all the valuable information about the new partnership, including that Boston Dynamics leased the Spot robot dog to the police force for 90 days between August and November. Because there is no detailed information revealed for a public eye, we don’t know how they are exactly using these machines. The only information that a state police spokesman David Procopio provided about Spot is:  “for the purpose of evaluating the robot’s capabilities in law enforcement applications, particularly remote inspection of potentially dangerous environments.”.
Michael Perry, Boston Dynamics vice president of business development stated, that the company is aiming to make Spot useful for different areas like oil and gas companies, constructions or entertainment.
Perry said he anticipates, that the police is using Spot by sending it into areas that are too dangerous for human being.

The abovementioned robot dogs are constructed for a general-purpose. They have an open application programming interface, which means, a warehouse operator or in this case, a police department can customize them with their own software. From what we can read on the internet, State police claims they didn’t use that feature yet.
Even though, Perry claims the robot won’t be used in the way that would harm or intimidate people, the ACLU, as well as the internet community, are worried about the situation. Currently, the major issue is the lack of transparency in the overall robotics program.

There are various conspiracy theories made by netizens. They mostly predict worst-case scenarios.
The question is whether this invention is safe for the human race. But let’s face the truth. Everything could be dangerous if used in the wrong way. If people working on these machines will program the algorithm allowing them to shoot to people, they’ll follow the order.
Personally, I’m amazed and don’t really know which adjective to use other than “amazing” in this case. I applaud Boston Dynamics for creating the algorithms of their breathtaking machines.

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If you had a chance to UPGRADE your BRAIN, would you do it?

Cyberpunk is just around the corner…

We live in a cutting-edge. Technologies are developing pretty fast. Today, probably, it would be hard to surprise someone with robots, self-driving cars, 3D-printers, and their abilities. Even now people are developing bionic hands, legs, exoskeletons to make the lives of people with debilities easier. They are implementing a software inside, trying to do their best, only that people to feel like a full-fledged cell of society.

2016

Thanks to a BCI developed at the University of Pittsburgh that stimulates the sensory region of the brain, the man, whose name is Nathan Copeland, is the first one who managed to feel a sense of touch through a mind-controlled robotic arm.

Upgrade your brain like hardware for PC…

But if there is a technology that can help not only people with limited opportunities but also healthy people to increase their productivity?

If you had a chance to upgrade yourself, would you let other people to implant a chip in the brain?

It sounds like a creepy fiction, however, nowadays scientists are actively developing such chips, brain computers, that are able to increase your productivity, working in a global company, and also expand your memory, allowing you never to forget a name or a face of a certain person, to remember everything detailed.

There are various ways of connecting brain signals with brain computers, or BCIs – but the Elon Mask’s company called “Neuralink” has developed this technology, even more, using tiny, super-thin, flexible micro-electrodes, which allow special small device to be implanted inside the brain, in order to read and record the neural signals activity.  This technology has already been tested on animals, and they are preparing for the next step, testing on humans.

2019

Elon Musk told about Neuralink’s plans for its progressive BCI technology, which involves using a specially built surgical robot, machine to implement thousands of thread-like electrodes into the brain.

 

The technology isn’t there yet, however, a separate, removable device would be a better option for healthy people, because it could be kept and used outside the body and switched off easily anytime.

Although this technology may be extremely beneficial, and mind-controlled devices can be invented, people will be facing some ethical problems. For example, their life would be even less private than now, their memories and thoughts would be monitored all the time. In addition, people’s devices can be easily hacked, controlled and probably their future behavior will not be the same. They can totally lose their freedom.

So before improving your brain with implants, you should ask yourself…

Is it worth living in a world in which there is no freedom?

 

Sources:

https://www.sciencefocus.com/future-technology/should-you-upgrade-your-brain/

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Lightning fast MIT Robot

MIT is worldwide known for its robotics research. In the past, they managed to create a robot breaking the world record in solving a Rubik’s Cube in only 0.38 seconds, the first four-legged robot to do a backflip, etc.
Sounds impressive, but with their newest development, they can’t just look cool, but it can be used in many ways and bring the robots on to the next level of productivity.
Picking up objects and flipping them around is easy for people. We do it every day, e.g., when we are trying to take notes at University, work, or at home. We pick up the pen and bring it into the right position and start writing. The same scenario is when we are eating a sandwich: We move it a little bit to bite from the other corner.
For our robot friends, however, it is tough to pick up things without either dropping them or destroying them and then to add the factor of turning the object they just mastered to hold? It sounds like a difficult task.
Therefore it took robots a long time to plan and calculate all the factors like geometry, friction, all the possibilities of how the object can be turned, etc. This whole process took tens of minutes previously, which sounds still impressive, bearing in mind that if we measured and calculate these numbers, we would sit there for hours and probably still fail.
MIT mastered to bring down the planning time of the robot to less than a second.
How is that possible? The robot is pushing the object against a stationary surface and slides its claw down the object until it has it in the right position.

For the future, this can mean that instead of a specialized tool like a screwdriver, machines would have more something like a hand, giving them the ability to pick up different kinds of tools and do various tasks.
This improvement would most likely save the companies space and also money since, for multiple steps, they would need one robot.

This is another case were thinking out of the box, by simply using the surroundings, has a huge effect.

References:

https://bigthink.com/technology-innovation/rubiks-cube

http://news.mit.edu/2019/mit-mini-cheetah-first-four-legged-robot-to-backflip-0304

https://techcrunch.com/2019/10/17/mit-develops-a-way-for-robots-to-grasp-and-manipulate-objects-much-faster/

http://news.mit.edu/2019/robotic-faster-grip-adjust-1017

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AI will do many times more jobs than take

Over the past few years, artificial intelligence has evolved so rapidly that now almost every month a new, even greater breakthrough in this area is emerging. In various areas, such as speech translation, medical diagnostics and games, computers are increasingly beginning to outperform people. And in the same way, they increasingly talk about how AI will affect people’s employment. Some fear that as artificial intelligence develops, people will have less and less work, which means that the number of unemployed people who are economically unable to compete with machines will grow.

This concern, albeit understandable, is unfounded. Moreover, artificial intelligence will be the greatest engine of work that the world has ever seen.

Artificial Intelligence: to strike or not?
On the one hand, it is possible to justify those who predict a massive loss of jobs from artificial intelligence. It is very easy to imagine that existing jobs will change under the pressure of a new technology, and it is very difficult to imagine what new jobs this new technology will provide us.

But if you think about it, radical technological advances are not at all a new phenomenon. Technology has been developing non-stop for 250 years, and in the US the unemployment rate remained at 5 to 10% almost all the time, even when radical new technologies appeared, such as steam energy and electricity.

But why look at steam energy or electricity. Just look at the internet. Let’s go back 25 years ago, in 1993. The Mosaic web browser just came out, and the phrase “surfing the Internet” was only a couple of months.

 

If someone asked you what the result of connecting several billion computers to a giant network with common protocols would be, you could imagine that you would have to send fewer emails, and the network would force you to read fewer newspapers. It may be possible to shop online. If you were especially far-sighted, you could even suggest that this technology will negatively affect the work of travel agents and stockbrokers. All people think that internet can destroy workplaces

But today we know what really happened. Of course, everything has changed. But the changes were unexpected. There are thousands of new companies worth trillions of dollars. We have improved almost everything on the planet that this technology has touched. Dozens of new careers have appeared, from web designers to data experts and online marketers. The cost of starting a business with global reach has plummeted, and the cost of communicating with customers and potential customers has dropped to almost zero. Huge repositories of information have become widely available and used by entrepreneurs around the world.

However, yes, we write fewer letters and buy fewer newspapers.

The development of artificial intelligence
And now a new, even more destructive in every sense of technology appears: artificial intelligence. And again people think that it will take jobs away.

Let’s look at a regular ATM. If you had to choose a technology that looked like it was going to replace all people, the ATM would be fine. But nevertheless, bank employees today are much more than ATMs. How so? Yes, everything is simple: ATMs have reduced the cost of opening bank branches, banks have opened more branches, inviting more people.

Sources:

https://hackernoon.com/artificial-intelligence/home

https://www.sciencedaily.com/news/computers_math/robotics/

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Extraordinary farmers

At the beginning of October this year, start-up Iron Ox created a fully autonomous farm in San Carlos, California. The company wants to improve today’s farming using AI and heavy machinery.

Transplanter

Source: businessinsider.com

Has Iron Ox found an answer to constantly growing population needing more and more food as well as labor and crops shortages? They created two robots and an 8000 square feet (around 743 square meter) greenhouse to care about all produce. It’s impressive, isn’t it?

One of the robots is roughly as big as a car. It is responsible for moving and lifting trays of plants around the building and transporting them to the processing area. There, the second robot takes care of seeding, transplanting and all of different tasks concerning usage of knowledge, not mechanical ones. It uses AI and machine learning.  It can see in 3D, it recognizes diseases, pests, sizes, types of leaves etc. They both are controlled by cloud-bases AI software called “The brain” that tells them exactly what to do according to the situation given.

Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania iron ox robot

Source: qz.com

What else is extraordinary about this project? Firstly, plants are smartly packed. They are sorted according to their age, water, light and other natural requirements. Nothing goes to waste during the whole operation. Company claims that this farm is able to “grow 30 times more plants than traditional farms”. Secondly, everything is done in sterile environment. And finally, robots can work 24 hours a day, with no break, no food, no exhaustion. They are always efficient and ready to be used. They have no bad days or diseases. They don’t have emotions, which can affect their involvement in work. They don’t cheat, steal or slob around. They are highly dependable, easy to control and predictable. We can’t say the same about the people.

Podobny obraz

Source: theverge.com

The aim of the company is to establish farms near big cities, so people could eat fresher products. At the same time, they want to save natural resources like water, soil, solar energy etc. The co-founder and CEO of Iron Ox, Brandon Alexander claims that after working for many engineering companies (including Google’s research lab X and influential robotics incubator Willow Garage) he decided that he wants to do something that has direct impact on people’s lives.  Alexander’s interest in farming came partly from his background. His granddad worked as a farmer and complained that he “couldn’t get enough help”.

Iron Ox plants are “very manual products”, but everything seems to be on the right track to develop this idea, open new greenhouses, build new robots and speed up the process. Company plans to open a few new farms next year and sell its produces among entire California. Their first targets are restaurants.

Source: techcrunch.com

Even Brandon agrees that robots will not be able to do everything without humans. According to willrobotstakemyjob.com only 5% of farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers will be switched with robots. The site’s verdict is that automation risk level is “totally safe”. What do you think? Do you agree with this site or your views are closer to Brandon Alexander who places hopes on Iron Ox? Should Brandon go hard or go home in your opinion?

References:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/oct/08/robot-farm-iron-ox-california

https://www.theverge.com/2018/10/9/17950502/robot-farm-future-iron-ox-agriculture-automation

https://willrobotstakemyjob.com

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South Korea is building Terminators

A few days ago the information was spread saying that KAIST is working on advanced war robots equipped with artificial intelligence. KAIST stands for “Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology”, a university and also a research institute that is responsible for many innovations in the field of robotics.

In order to create a war robots (allegedly), the university established cooperation with Hanwha Systems. The purpose of both brands is to create autonomous robots that will be able to kill the designated targets. As we can read on the corporate website: „As a defense electronics company, Hanwha Systems has significantly advanced the defense capabilities of South Korea’s military since the company was founded in 1978”. Hanwha Systems, with whom KAIST cooperates, is the largest arms producer in Korea and the main supplier of equipment for the South Korean military. It is also worth mentioning that the company is responsible for creating cluster bombs, which are prohibited in over 120 countries.

Boston Dynamic’s Atlas robot

Toby Walsh, a lecturer at the University of New South Wales, is the initiator of a boycott against both Hanwha Systems and the Korean university. Other scientists who worked mainly on artificial intelligence also joined the initiative. There are about 30 of them in total and they announced that they will not cooperate with KAIST so long as this one does not stop researching a new weapon. The president of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology – Sung-Chul Shin said, “I reaffirm once again that KAIST will not conduct any research activities counter to human dignity including autonomous weapons lacking meaningful human control”. It is worth mentioning that not only the Korean university is conducting research on advanced robots that could be used for military purposes. The most known company working on advanced robots is Boston Dynamics, which used to belong to Google (Alphabet).

 

Sources:

https://nypost.com/2018/04/05/south-korean-university-may-be-developing-killer-robots/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KAIST

https://www.hanwha.com/en/about_hanwha/history.html

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Social Robots – Challenges and Potential

The term Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to (re)creating natural intelligence (human and animal) based on machine learning in computer science area. The goals of AI are for machines and/or computers to replicate/mimic human reflection and reaction. Among others, the focus on AI developing capabilities are the following: (1) problem solving: identifying the action needed to archive and solve at best a specific goal given (2) Reasoning: identifying and acknowledge diverse events, knowledge, relations and other in order to decide on the best solution and analyze its consequences (3) Planning: identifying step by step tasks needed to archive a specific project/goal within sets of time (4) Perception: capable to interpret surroundings (such as voice, face and object) thanks to sensors such as camera, tactile sensors and microphone (5) Motion and manipulation: distinguish his localization, navigate in it environment, manipulate objects, use physical motions and gestures (6) Learning (automatic, semi-supervised and supervised): learn complex relations between its actions and its results for specific improvements on it performance needed such as able to move more effectively. (7) Natural language processing: ability to understand human basic language in specific language and able to communicate/engage in conversation (8) social intelligence: To do these sort of tasks, AI machine must have required human intelligence, therefore these machines must require as well; the ability to fit within our social norms and express and/or perceive emotions

This last capability is much more important for social robots; seen already utilized in warehouses and factory, Robots are now slowly but surely entering our homes and private public places sectors which increase the value of it machines by gradually shaping our new daily life style by being more and more accessible and available seen these past few years.

 

Lea – The robot assistance for elderly person by The Robot Care:

Being on the market since last year, Lea was built for the purpose of helping elder person to walk or sit thanks to it very though full design, connect with family and friends thanks to an integrated screen and it video communication system, ensuring the safety of it owner thanks to sensors while being able to assist in physical activities, helping to motivate elder people to move and be more active.

Savioke Relay – The service robot in hospitality industry by Savioke

Provide personnel customer service especially in hotels but also in workplaces (used in about 17 localization using it device, counting major hotel brands such as Sheraton, The Westin, Marriott and others), primarily used as transport small items from one person to another.

Buddy – The home companion and assistant robot by Blue Frog Robotics

Built with a screen to represent the “face” and “head” and moving on wheels, Buddy is a “companion” robot that offer assistance (ex:controlling smart home appliances), entrainment at home (play with kids) and interfaces but more importantly, Buddy is here to make your home more secure as he can be used as a movable camera and can detect anything going on in your own home when you are not there and send you a signal when there is something fishy going on when you are out.

In the past as well as today, the issues for robots to be placed in our home sphere and being able to communicate with, lies less on the lack of it technology development but more on boundaries, ethical and moral issues and the complexity of our social norms in human society. These issues turned to create further complex questions if social robots would be accepted into human’s daily life style. Developers have tried to focus on according these concerns by creating “acceptable” robots as this technology brings a lot of concerns. Andrea Thomaz, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the university of Texas at Austin, explain this situation briefly in her TEDtalks speech: “The Next Frontier in Robotics: Social, Collaborative Robots” where also explain the importance of assembling few different capabilities into the social robots that we have cited and describe at the beginning of the article.

For robots to become a further developed social companion however, it is much more complex as it could seem. For that, robots should not only recognize behavioral pattern, but also be able to communicate and act as we human-to-human. They should be able to detect therefore, human emotions, sarcasm and motives to react on them as we are living within a constant dynamic environment. Thanks to that, the two-way flow actions between robot-to-human goal achievement would be much more easy and possible but the development of this specific capability us much more complex to attain. However, the recent availability of robots for home as companion, with Buddy (available to pre-order since mid 2016) or Jibo (available to purchase since end of 2017) have risen hopes for possible further development in such a robot to acquire their maximum potential to soon really become the reason our life changing daily routines.

 

Sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1ZhWv84eWE

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/10/top-10-ethical-issues-in-artificial-intelligence/

https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/artificial-intelligence-based-techniques-problem-solving-2109

http://groups.csail.mit.edu/medg/ftp/psz/k-rep.html

http://artint.info/html/ArtInt_8.html

https://www.oreilly.com/ideas/reinforcement-learning-explained

https://www.thocp.net/reference/robotics/robotics.html

https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s12369-011-0121-z.pdf

https://assets.kpmg.com/content/dam/kpmg/pdf/2016/06/social-robots.pdf

 

http://www.traveldailymedia.com/433601/hotel-jens-new-service-staff-tireless-obedient-just-little-bit-different/

http://www.ece.utexas.edu/people/faculty/andrea-thomaz

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1ZhWv84eWE

https://books.google.pl/books?id=FD4rDwAAQBAJ&pg=PR16&lpg=PR16&dq=social+robots+requirements&source=bl&ots=bJfN8k-IOt&sig=A9gtIS7t-Zx5s1aZHkqXp42jPVw&hl=fr&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj16pfoveHYAhWLjCwKHb6pAM4Q6AEIdjAJ#v=onepage&q=social%20robots%20requirements&f=false

 

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