the robots are coming
Does anyone love their work more than the folks who work on robots? As a nod to the holiday season (and a fun way to showboat) the team at Autonomous Systems Lab has taken a few of their creations and rigged up a veritable Santa’s workshop. In this video (via Make) a neatly wrapped package is passed from a “ballbot” to a drone to a quadruped styled to resemble a reindeer–all to the jazzy strains of “Jingle Bells.”
Get ready for the day when you sip mimosas and curl your eyelashes as you commute, because the driverless car revolution is upon us. These futuristic machines are now legal in three states, and Google’s working hell-for-leather to make them part of regular life. But, as this essay in the New Yorker points out, such a technology raises thorny implications.
When we turn our shiny metal death machines over to computers, how are they going to make the right decisions?
Nintendo is releasing a Wii Mini on December 7th, just in time for the holidays. [The Verge]
Startup incubator Y Combinator has announced a VC program, allowing YC students access to guidance and an $80,000 investment from firms like Andreessen Horowitz and General Catalyst. The program will replace the Start Fund. [Y Combinator]
First we worried that tech sites were turning into press release regurgitation factories; now it turns out some of those press releases aren’t even true. Here’s how PRWeb helps distribute fake and sketchy press releases. [Search Engine Land]
Tumblr has broken into the top 10 sites in the U.S. with a worldwide audience of 170 million people. [Tumblr]
Don’t worry: the Pentagon says a human will always decide if a robot kills you. Feel better now? [Wired]
Kickstarter is being sued for patent infringement over a $3 million 3D printing project. [The Daily Dot]
the robots are coming
Good news for those of you kept awake at night by terrible apocalyptic visions and/or whose name is Sarah Connor: The BBC reports that the University of Cambridge is taking up the study of the existential risks posed by new technologies. Think killer AIs with indestructible robot bodies.
One of organizers is Skype cofounder Jaan Tallinn, Read More
XXX in Tech
If we’ve learned anything from a hundred years of science fiction, it’s that handing over a) guns and b) any serious amount of authority to robots is not going to end well. However, the Pentagon doesn’t make R&D decisions based on Battlestar Galactica. Military drones are still controlled by humans, but for how long? Lest Read More
If you’re already following the advice of your longevity coach and working to live as long as humanly possible (until the Singularity comes and your being is finally merged with that of a robot), then you’re probably ready to take your training to the next level. Self-quantifying via sleep tracking apps and the Nike Fuel Band will only get you so far, and unless you’re Peter Thiel, hyperbaric chambers are rather expensive. Luckily, the next step towards total transhumanism is much more pleasurable: buying a sex robot and having longevity orgasms.
the robots are coming
Watching this this robot walk a tightrope strung across a Japanese office to a soundtrack of disproportionately thrilling techno is probably the most exciting thing you’ll do today. (Hey, it’s a Tuesday. Take what you can get.) From the country that brought you not just Neon Genesis Evangelion, but the entire subgenre of anime devoted to giant robots:
The Future Will See You Now
They might be able to make burritos and rescue the drowning, but robots are still lacking in some basic functionality. Namely: The ability to do very much with tools. Those of you who’ve seen Planet of the Apes and/or ever attempted to jimmy the cap off a beer bottle will surely recognize that this is an important part of our special sauce as a species, and one that our mechanical brethren can’t quite yet replicate. Hence, as per the MAKE blog, a team of researchers at Georgia Tech are working on that.
Specifically, they would like to build a robot MacGyver.
As this Georgia Tech announcement points out, we’re increasingly deploying robots in dangerous situations and hard-to-get-to places (hello, Mars rover!), but they lack human abilities to interact with their environment. If they lose their keys, they can’t root through their purse and find something to pick the lock:
What’s a thousand-pound steel monster controlled entirely by a computer, no human required? It’s a driverless car! And it’s one step closer to legally operating on public roads. The Singularity is nigh, friends.
According to Ars Technica, the California State Senate officially passed SB 1289, which–following the creation of standards and performance requirements by the DMV–would allow robot cars to hit the open road.
What if your boyfriend was really sweet and helpful and you could shrink him into a tiny cyborg that lives inside your phone? Regardless of what Honey I Shrunk the Kids taught you, we don’t have the technology to do that–yet. But luckily there are Happiness Engines, little bots made by a startup in San Francisco that help make using your smartphone a little bit easier.