Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Could Sarcastic Computers Be in Our Future?

Noah Goodman, right, and Michael Frank, both assistant professors of psychology, discuss their research at the white board that covers the wall in Goodman's office. (Credit: L.A. Cicero)

Could Sarcastic Computers Be in Our Future? New Math Model Can Help Computers Understand Inference -- Science Daily

ScienceDaily (May 30, 2012) — In a new paper, the researchers describe a mathematical model they created that helps predict pragmatic reasoning and may eventually lead to the manufacture of machines that can better understand inference, context and social rules.

Language is so much more than a string of words. To understand what someone means, you need context.

Consider the phrase, "Man on first." It doesn't make much sense unless you're at a baseball game. Or imagine a sign outside a children's boutique that reads, "Baby sale -- One week only!" You easily infer from the situation that the store isn't selling babies but advertising bargains on gear for them.

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My Comment: I guess it all comes down to the math and programming.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Darpa Is Still Developing Robots

Meet ‘Robbie’: Darpa’s Seeing, Feeling, Two-Armed Robot -- Danger Room

It’s only been three months since the Pentagon’s latest robot — the one able to staple paperwork and answer phone calls with a single autonomous arm — demonstrated some of those amazing skills. Now, the freaky humanoid ‘bot is back. And this time, he has two arms. And a name.

Meet Robbie. This particular robot was designed by RE2, a robotics firm in Pittsburgh, which showed him off to IEEE Spectrum at their International Conference on Robotics and Automation last week. RE2 was one of six teams initially contracted by Darpa, the Pentagon’s robo-loving research agency, to work on their Autonomous Robotic Manipulation (ARM) program. Launched two years ago, the program aims to develop robots that can perform complex tasks with minimal input from their human overlords.

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My Comment: I guess this program stems from the military's dream of having their terminator robots.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

When Creative Machines Overtake Man

When Creative Machines Overtake Man -- Kurzweil Artificial Intelligence

Machine intelligence is improving rapidly, to the point that the scientist of the future may not even be human! In fact, in more and more fields, learning machines are already outperforming humans. As noted in this transcript of a talk at TEDxLausanne on Jan. 20, 2012, artificial intelligence expert J├╝rgen Schmidhuber isn’t able to predict the future accurately, but he explains how machines are getting creative, why 40‚000 years of Homo sapiens-dominated history are about to end soon, and how we can try to make the best of what lies ahead.

Read more ....

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Robots Building Robots (Or At Least Parts Of Robots)

Intelligent Design: Scientists Create Robot Which Can Build Its Own Tools -- Daily Mail

It sounds like a bad sci-fi film: A group of scientists build an robot intelligent robot, give it the ability to build its own tools, and arm it with a gun.

Thankfully, while the first part is true, the gun on this occasion is just a glue gun.

Still, the reality of a tool-building robot is a scary enough thought, with the team from the science and technology university ETH Zurich building a robot which can built its own tools to carry out its missions.

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My Comment:
news like this always makes me wonder on where is all of this heading to in the next decade or two.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Morphing Robots and Shape-Shifting Sculptures

This graphic illustrates the creation of morphing robot-like mechanisms and shape-shifting sculptures from a single sheet of paper in a method reminiscent of origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. The robotic and artistic designs are made up of building blocks called "basic structural units," or BSUs. Each BSU contains two segments joined by a creased hinge, and many BSUs are linked together to create larger structures. (Credit: Purdue University)

Morphing Robots and Shape-Shifting Sculptures: Origami-Inspired Design Merges Engineering, Art -- Science Daily

ScienceDaily (May 21, 2012) — Researchers have shown how to create morphing robotic mechanisms and shape-shifting sculptures from a single sheet of paper in a method reminiscent of origami, the Japanese art of paper folding.

The new method, called Kaleidogami, uses computational algorithms and tools to create precisely folded structures.

Read more ....

Monday, May 21, 2012

Telerobotics Wil Make It Possible For Robots To Explore The Surface Of Mars

Awaiting Commands Three generations of Mars rovers, seen at JPL's test site. The small one is the first Mars rover, Sojourner, which landed on Mars in 1997. On the left is a Mars Exploration Rover Project test rover that is a working sibling to Spirit and Opportunity, which landed on Mars in 2004. On the right is a Mars Science Laboratory test rover the size of Curiosity, which is on course for landing on Mars in August. NASA/JPL-Caltech

With Telerobotics, Astronauts Orbit Mars While Robots Explore the Surface -- Popular Science

Humans could avoid the dangers of landing on Mars.

Getting humans to Mars is a challenge in several steps, with the most difficult and dangerous likely to be the descent. Landing safely on another world is hard for a rover, let alone a spacecraft carrying people. But telerobotics could offer a unique alternative — send the people to the planet, but keep them in orbit, and deploy robots to the surface to do the difficult stuff.

Read more ....

My Comment: You probably can use robots to explore the surface of Mars .... but lets face it .... having a living person is far more "exciting and attention grabbing" than having a machine do it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Can We Trust Killer Robots?

The X-47B, the Navy's prototype for an unmanned strike plane. The aircraft may eventually be able to set off on a flight plan, identify targets and fire weapons. Northrup Grunmman

Could We Trust Killer Robots? -- Wall Street Journal

A drone may never have a sense of morality, but it might perform better than a human soldier in sparing the innocent.

In the year 2015, somewhere over the tribal territories of Pakistan, an American MQ-9 Reaper drone patrols a complex "kill zone"—an area of terrorist activity in which large numbers of civilians are also present. But on this mission, the drone isn't piloted from afar. It's on its own.

The aircraft moves closer to gather information about a potential target. Infrared cameras, heat sensors and other tools of surveillance determine whether the target is indeed a militant, examining, for instance, whether he seems ready to attack. The drone's computer system ranks the suspect on a scale from -1 (a noncombatant) to +1 (a confirmed combatant). Having determined that no children or other civilians are in the vicinity, and that everything else is in order, it chooses a weapon and fires. It then assesses the damage and either fires again or, if the enemy is dead, continues its patrol.

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My Comment: Such weapon systems will perform according to what their designers plan .... so yes .... we can trust them .... but to a point .... more specifically .... those who program such systems are the ones who will be held accountable if things go wrong.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Memristors: A Different Kind Of Computer Memory Chip

Memristors employing more "exotic" materials will probably make it into devices first

Memristors In Silicon Promising For Dense, Fast Memory -- BBC

Researchers have revealed details of a promising way to make a fundamentally different kind of computer memory chip.

The device is a "memristor", a long-hypothesised but only recently demonstrated electronic component.

A memristor's electronic properties make it suitable for both for computing and for far faster, denser memory.

Researchers at the European Materials Research Society meeting now say it can be made much more cheaply, using current semiconductor techniques.

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My Comment: New materials .... new advances.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Paralysed Woman Uses Brain Power Alone To Take Control Of A Robotic Arm

Paralysed Woman Uses Mind To Control Robotic Arm -- The Telegraph

A paralysed woman has used brain power alone to take control of a robotic arm and lift a bottle of coffee to her lips after a pioneering operation.

For the first time in 15 years the woman was able to raise the bottle, take a sip and place it back on a table simply by imagining herself doing so.

The feat was possible thanks to a brain implant which translates the patient's thoughts into commands to be carried out by a free-standing robotic arm.

Doctors said the experiment proved that so-called "brain-computer interfaces" could dramatically improve the lives of paralysed people by enabling them to carry out simple tasks like eating and drinking independently.

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My Comment: Impressive.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

China Pushes To Have Supercomputers

China's Tianhe-1A is the second most powerful supercomputer in the world. Photo: Nvidia

Intel Feeds China’s Supercomputers With New Xeon Chip -- Wired Enterprise

China took the world by surprise last year when it unveiled a previously unknown supercomputer called the Sunway BlueLight MPP. It’s one of the world’s top supercomputers and here’s the kicker: It uses ShenWei SW-3 microprocessors that are made in China.

Now, Intel has introduced a new Xeon chip that could provide Chinese companies with an incentive to stick with Intel, already the top provider of microprocessors to supercomputers worldwide. The chip, called the E5-4600, essentially fuses four Xeon chips and as many as 32 processor cores into one package that is more efficient at shipping around data between various parts of the computer.

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My Comment:
China`s push into supercomputers should surprise no one.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

U.S. Army Wants To Give War Robots More Power To 'Make Their Own Decisions'

Giving war robots 'autonomy' sparks fears of independent killing machines similar to Arnold Schwarzenegger's The Terminator

What Could Possibly Go Wrong? U.S. Army Wants To Give War Robots More Power To 'Make Their Own Decisions' -- Daily Mail

* Trucks that 'drive themselves' already under test
* Military is testing 'autonomous' robots that follow soldiers
* Robots will use laser-imaging to build their own 3D image of the world
* Will be 'supervised' by soldiers

Armies of robots including dog-like creatures walking on four legs and huge lumbering trucks are the stuff of science fiction - specifically, bleak films such as The Terminator series.

But the U.S. military not only wants more robots - it wants more 'autonomous' robots, robots free to make their own decisions on the battlefield.

A new robot is described as 'like a dog' that follows troops on the battlefield - and future models will use technologies such as laser imaging to build their own picture of the world.

Read more ....

Update #1: U.S. military embraces robots with greater autonomy -- Reuters
Update #2: Factbox: U.S. military robot systems in development -- Reuters

My Comment: Science fiction becoming reality .... albeit slowly.