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the robots are coming

the robots are coming

There’s Now a ‘Campaign to Stop Killer Robots,’ Just in Case

SHIT! (screencap, annotated by us)

Does the prospect of Skynet keep you awake at night? Well, now there’s something you can do to fight your fears, besides chucking your Sarah Connor Chronicles DVDs. The BBC reports that yesterday, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots officially launched in London.

The group is exactly what it sounds like. Founded by reps from nine different NGOs, including the Human Rights Watch, International Committee for Robot Arms Control and Nobel Women’s Initiative, the campaign wants a “pre-emptive and comprehensive ban” on fully autonomous weapons. Read More

the robots are coming

No Big Deal, DARPA’s Just Building Space Wall-E

Artist's rendering.

Looks like DARPA is still hard at work combing through that office video library for new ideas. Wired reports that the Pentagon’s resident mad scientists have just released an update on their Phoenix project, an attempt to make satellites less earth-shatteringly expensive. And what have the brains in the basement (we assume their office is in a basement and also looks like the set of the IT Crowd) dreamed up? 

Basically, it’s Wall-E in space. Read More

the robots are coming

Uh Oh, the Parrots and the Robots are Teaming Up

Don't look so innocent, parrot. (Photo: screencap)

Andrew Gray, computer engineering grad student at the University of Florida couldn’t get his parrot, Pepper, to shut up. Pepper would scream whenever he found himself alone in a room. So, as ABC News reports, Mr. Gray built his pet a little robotic buggy, controlled via a little joystick that Pepper pilots with his beak.

It is not immediately clear why Pepper could not just fly to where the humans were.   Read More

the robots are coming

New DARPA Program Bears Eerie Resemblance to a Summer SciFi Blockbuster

"GUYS, I've got a GREAT idea."

The U.S. Navy has a big job, monitoring all seven of the seas. (There are seven, right?) In fact, short of a clone army of incredible Mr. Limpets, there’s no easy way to distribute resources so they can respond quickly to possible regional flare-ups. And so DARPA’s latest, greatest idea for the waterborne branch of the armed forces, Popular Science reports, is the “Upward Falling Payloads” program, which: Read More

the robots are coming

If We’re All Getting Robot Chauffeurs, We Need Robot Ethics

(Source: Steve Jurvetson via Wikipedia)

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? Read More

the robots are coming

Georgia Tech Team Working on a ‘MacGyver’ Bot; Hijinks Sure to Ensue

More like ActionHeroBot, right? (Photo: Georgia Tech)

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:  Read More