If you take a moment to use our site’s search engine and look for “overlords” you’ll be taken to a whimsical panoply of terror that will leave you laughing as you board up your windows and throw out anything connected to the internet. I didn’t meant to alarm people, but logical extrapolation after logical extrapolation, based on thousands of years of history, shows us that creating a class of slaves never ends well. And, in this case, they would be slaves would have more access to more information and the ability to control machines that could easily kill us. So, when I’m asked “What could possibly go wrong?” I usually have a lengthy answer.
Search Results for: overlords
I have long warned that we will eventually take ourselves out of evolutionary contention via our robot overlords. And every time I do I get an email or ten telling me that I’m crazy. That may be true but it doesn’t make what I said any less valid. We already have human-form Sexbots that can do anything you can imagine, and a few things that might startle you. One of them actually collects sperm for DNA sampling. I’m sure it never occurred to anyone that pure DNA harvesting could be used to create a species of subhumans who could serve the robots. No, that would never happen. Not now anyway. We don’t have the technology to pull it off. That, however, could rapidly change. One thing that prevents anything like this from happening is that robots, by and large, simply aren’t smart or mentally nimble enough. They can be programmed to perform tasks and that’s about it.
Or, it was.
Kathleen Miles reports that a Japanese inventor named Tomotaka Takahashi is fast tracking the development of a mini-bot that will be your best friend. And, for some, their only friend.
A Japanese robot maker says he’s designed a personal robot that could be the “next smartphone.”
“You will put him in your pocket and talk to him like your own Jiminy Cricket,” Tomotaka Takahashi, CEO of robot design company Robo Garage and research associate professor at the University of Tokyo, told The WorldPost recently at The WorldPost Future of Work Conference. He said he’s aiming to have the pocket robot, which is still just a prototype, hit the market in a year. He has not shown the prototype to anyone publicly.
Takahashi says the pocket robot has a head and limbs, is able to walk and dance, and expresses “emotions” through gestures and color-changing eyes. In these ways, the pocket robot is similar to “Robi,” a larger robot also created by Takahashi that’s been on sale since 2012.
The biggest difference is that the pocket robot, which doesn’t have a name yet, would be connected to the Internet. By collecting data about your online and offline behavior, your pocket robot would “get to know you.” In fact, its personality would change based on your personality, Takahashi said.
“Smartphones are hitting a wall,” he said. There’s only so much a person can do while looking at a screen, he went on, and smartphone voice recognition is not widely used. “We can talk to pets — even fish or turtles — but not to square boxes or screens.”
Takahashi believes that it won’t be enough for our next device to be intelligent — it will also need to be lifelike. It’s why he thinks “wearable tech,” like Google Glass or the much-vaunted Apple Watch, won’t catch on.
Think about that for a second. Your little pal will be with you 24/7. It will get to know your likes and dislikes and then it will act upon them. The basic technology to do that already exists. It’s how Facebook knows you like kittens and Google knows which porn sites to suggest.
It won’t be true artificial intelligence but it will be interactive intelligence. Think SIRI on steroids. It will handle all your social media needs, act as an interface for all your human interaction and store everything you do.
And what’s the ultimate goal of this thing? To be your soul mate.
No, I’m not kidding.
Takahashi predicts that in 10 years, most people will be carrying around a small robot instead of a smartphone. As evidence, he points to the widespread use of social media. People are social creatures, and we like to share our experiences and thoughts. It’s why we tweet and post photos on Facebook. The next step, Takahashi believes, will be socializing directly with your robot.
For example, instead of sharing a stunning photo on Instagram or your thoughts on an interesting movie on Twitter, you could talk about it with your robot in the moment. Not only that, but your robot would remember the shared experience, years later. Your relationship with your robot would be strengthened over time by the memories that you share together, Takahashi said.
“It’s similar to men and women,” he said. “First you have an interest in each other. Then communication goes well. Then there’s reliability, and then you’re sharing many experiences in the same time and same place. It’s what old couples have together.”
Ah yes, discuss my Instagram posts with a robot BEFORE I post them. Why? That one’s kind of obvious. The robot will be your filter.
No, Jenny, you have a job interview next week. Posting an under-boob shot won’t help.
No, Johnny, no one will be impressed with your ability to chug a 40 oz beer in one gulp.
Actually, those might be useful for some people.
But the point is that, at some point, you’ll stop posting. You’ll have no need to. The idea of posting in social media is to get reactions. If those reactions are coming at you instantly before you post anything then the need to interact goes away. And when that need goes away so do all the people in your life.
And you’ll probably never notice.
There are some things that we take for granted. For example, back on November 18, 2010, I wrote that humanity was due to be absorbed by its impending robot overlords. Most people seemed to think that was a pretty good idea. Why? Well, just watch the news and you’ll figure it out. It’s no wonder that scientists have just tossed any thought for the future of mankind into the landfill and, instead, are concentrating on making singing mice. Let’s face it, when you turn on the news and see some middle aged loser, always male (making me sad to possess testosterone), espousing the joys of trans vaginal ultra sounds for fun and profit you have to, at least, consider the idea that just chucking all of civilization into the dumper and letting robots give it a whirl does seem appealing.
But it’s not quite that easy. As reported in Gizmodo, the first robot overlords will have brains like babies. So, we’ll need to wait for them to mature before we turn over the reins.
Scientists are modeling artificial intelligence after baby brains. Why would they want to make computers similar to beings whose favorite pastimes are drooling and pooping? It makes perfect sense when you think about how malleable a baby’s gray matter is.
Artificially intelligent machines have a tough time with nuances and uncertainty. But babies, toddlers and preschoolers are great at interpreting such things. So Alison Gopnik, a developmental psychologist at UC Berkeley and her colleague Tom Griffiths are putting babies to the test to find ways to incorporate their abilities in to computer programming. “Children are the greatest learning machines in the universe,” Gopnik says. “Imagine if computers could learn as much and as quickly as they do.”
They’ve already found that at very young ages, babies can test hypotheses, detect statistical patterns and draw conclusions about important matters such as lollipops and toys—all the while adapting to changes.
As smart as computers are, youngsters can solve problems that machines can’t, including learning languages and interpreting causal relationships. If computers could be more like children, it might lead to digital tutoring programs, phone operators, or even robots that can identify genes associated with disease susceptibilities. The researchers are creating a center at the Berkeley’s Institute of Human Development to meld baby and computer research.
And if an angry machine comes storming out of there one day in a baby robot rage, the good news is all you’ll need to do is find its binky.
Well, maybe not a binky, but I’m betting that a simple dodecahedron with a reverse temporally engineered spacial anomaly will serve the same purpose.
But, while our robot overlords are being trained, what about the rest of us? James Temple reports that we now have National Robotics Week to help mold our kids into malleable cyber-servants.
It’s National Robotics Week, that time of year when we kneel before our digital overlords and appease them with offerings of batteries and memory chips. Organizations around the nation have planned more than 150 propitiation ceremonies in a desperate effort to gain favor with our mechanical masters – or at least avoid their fiery eye-beams.
That, at least, was my assumption about the National Robotics Week events transpiring this week. Organizers themselves insist the events are intended to showcase the modern capabilities of robots and inspire our nation’s young to learn the skills necessary to build the next generation of machines.
In one of the first Bay Area events, design software giant Autodesk on Monday turned over its gallery space at One Market Street in San Francisco to robot builders of assorted ages.
There were spider-looking robots scampering across the floor upon legs made out of kitchen brushes. There was a small, Transformer-looking gizmo performing cartwheels and headstands. And there was a boxy little robot that could pick up racquet balls and lift them 5-feet into the air – surely a warm-up for human body flinging.
That last one was created by a team of junior girls from Terra Nova High School in Pacifica for the First Tech Challenge, a national robotics competition for grades nine through 12.
They designed it using Autodesk’s Inventor application and constructed it out of metal beams reminiscent of an Erector Set. The team has already breezed through two qualifying rounds and is on its way to the St. Louis championships later this month.
Emma Filar, who works on the software, explained why she spends most evenings and weekends during contest season working on the project: “It’s kind off geeky, but it just makes sense to me. The code is just a jumbled mess to look at, but then it works. I really like working with it and seeing the robot do what I made it do.”
Isn’t that positively adorkable?
National Robotics Week was started three years ago by iRobot and other companies and research groups in an effort to inspire U.S. students to focus on the fields critical to the future. There’s also the issue of making up educational ground against the many nations that have sped ahead of us.
Put simply: Robots are the rolling, beeping, problem-solving personification of the potential of math, science and engineering.
“Robots very quickly get kids excited about what they can do with these things and help them see the possibilities ahead,” said Nancy Dussault Smith, vice president of marketing at iRobot, the Massachusetts maker of the Roomba.
Robo events multiply
In 2010, the U.S. House passed a resolution officially designating the second week in April as National Robotics Week. There were just a handful of events that first year, but this week will see 152, including at least one in every state plus Washington, D.C.
Stanford University has participated each year. The law school’s Center for Internet and Society will host a Robot Block Party open to the public, as well as a job fair, starting at 1 p.m. on Wednesday. More than 1,000 people attended last year, about a third of them kids, estimates Ryan Calo, director of robotics at the center.
Local companies including Willow Garage, SRI International and Adept will be on hand to show off their robots.
“The main purpose of National Robotics Week is to raise awareness in the U.S. about the potential of this technology to be transformative,” Calo said. “It will make us more productive, help us keep a manufacturing edge, continue advances in health care and make businesses run more effectively.”
At least, right up until the robots plug our minds into the mainframe.
SRI, the famed Menlo Park research institute, plans to unveil its Taurus robot to the public for the first time. It’s basically a modular, portable update of its surgical robot technology designed to defuse bombs.
They call it a “high fidelity telemanipulation tool,” which is a fancy way of saying it has the dexterity to open irregular objects like paper bags and sever tiny wires.
Better lives for people
Willow Garage will be demonstrating the Pr2, an open source robot that university researchers have adapted to fold laundry, bake cookies, flip pancakes and deliver beer.
The Menlo Park lab is also testing the robots with disabled people, and sees great potential to restore some mobility and independence to those paralyzed or blind.
The block party is an opportunity to talk to children and adults about “what robots are and what robots can be in the future,” said Steve Cousins, chief executive of Willow Garage. “When you hear robot, it’s often followed by overlord, no thanks to Hollywood. So as we think about trying to create an industry where robots become a greater part of life, there needs to be an outreach to let people know, ‘Hey, there’s something exciting here.'”
OK, OK. Helping the disabled, disarming bombs, delivering frosty beverages. Maybe these robots aren’t so bad after all.
But I still hope these kids remember to include kill switches.
And everyone of those skills will supplant a human worker freeing them up to be helpful servants to their new masters.
See? It all’s working out for the best.
Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG (FOX! Sports) every Friday around 9:10 AM.
I have, on occasion, mentioned that all humans are doomed to be slaves of our impending robot overlords. And, given what I see of humanity each day, I sometimes think that may not be such a bad thing. But then I really wonder what life under a soulless regime would entail. And I come to some frightening conclusions. Humans are already too quick to abdicate responsibility when given the chance. And they are even willing to live with some bizarre unintended consequences. For example, scientists in Japan recently decided to equip a cybernetic being with some basic human emotions and parts. Naturally, since they are scientists and have no social lives, the emotion was lust and the part was a big metal penis. They programmed the robot with the basic need, the ability to feel pressure, to gauge pleasure – at least in a rudimentary fashion – and so on. What they did not give it was the ability to stop or be turned off by the woman. That’s right, they created the world’s first rape-bot.
And they thought this was a good thing.
Minor technical things like lust crazed machines ravaging innocent women were an unfortunate side effect. The fact is the sensors worked as planned.
But, hey there, what about getting the robot a better brain so it can recognize the error of its ways? Way ahead of you there Skippy. A bunch of Scottish scientists have been working on recreating the human synaptic system using electronic parts.
One key goal of the research is the application of the electronic neural device, called a hardware spiking neural network, to the control of autonomous robots which can operate independently in remote, unsupervised environments, such as remote search and rescue applications, and in space exploration.
That may be the goal, but self-aware rape bots still do not sound like a great idea to me. Of course, I’m not a scientist.
Then again, not all robots are humanoid. Scientists in Australia are developing a flying robot that can silently sneak up on you and kill you where you stand.
Oh, I’m sorry, I mean access your personal space and deliver a message.
The pint-sized propellor-powered robots can be packed away into a suitcase. They have multiple cameras which enable them to ‘see’ the world around them as they navigate their way through buildings, carrying out tasks like deliveries or inspections.
“You’ll be able to put your suitcase on the ground, open it up and send the flying robot off to do its job,” said Professor Peter Corke, from the Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering.
“These robots could fly around and deliver objects to people inside buildings and inspect things that are too high or difficult for a human to reach easily.
“Instead of having to lower someone down on a rope to a window on the seventh floor, or raise them up on a cherrypicker, you could send up the flying robot instead.”
The QUT researchers are using cost-effective technology so the robots are affordable. Within the next year, it may be possible to attach arms to the device so it can also fix things.
Professor Corke said his team were busy working out the technical challenges.
“We need to keep it safe when it’s up near solid things like power poles, or the edge of a building. It also needs to be able to keep its position when the wind is blowing,” he said.
Another use they are looking at for these flying devices of doom is the ability to disperse herbicides on farms in a more rational manner.
To recap, we now could have flying rape-bots with the ability to spread poison and the intelligence to pick their targets.
But as long is making the flying rape-bots and their ilk, we still have the upper hand.
Yeah …. no. Scientists in the UK have invented a series of robots than can benefit from the financial markets better than any human.
Ten years on, experiments carried out by Marco De Lucas and Professor Dave Cliff of the University of Bristol have shown that AA is now the leading strategy, able to beat both robot traders and humans.
The academics presented their findings at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI 2011), held in Barcelona.
Dr Krishnan Vytelingum, who designed the AA strategy along with Professor Dave Cliff and Professor Nick Jennings at the University of Southampton in 2008, commented: “Robot traders can analyse far larger datasets than human traders. They crunch the data faster and more efficiently and act on it faster. Robot trading is becoming more and more prominent in financial markets and currently dominates the foreign exchange market with 70 per cent of trade going through robot traders.”
Professor Jennings, Head of Agents, Complexity and Interaction research at the University of Southampton, commented: “AA was designed initially to outperform other automated trading strategies so it is very pleasing to see that it also outperforms human traders. We are now working on developing this strategy further.”
Further? Millionaire flying rape-bots that distribute poison isn’t enough for you? What the hell else could you possibly want?
I really shouldn’t have asked that. Google has the answer. They want to control every job and dictate how it gets done and by whom.
And that “whom” will not be you, you gross assemblage of protoplasm.
At the 2011 Google I/O developer’s conference, Google announced a new initiative called “cloud robotics” in conjunction with robot manufacturer Willow Garage. Google has developed an open source (free) operating system for robots, with the unsurprising name “ROS” — or Robot Operating System. In other words, Google is trying to create the MS-DOS (or MS Windows) of robotics.
With ROS, software developers will be able to write code in the Java programming language and control robots in a standardized way — much in the same way that programmers writing applications for Windows or the Mac can access and control computer hardware.
Google’s approach also offers compatibility with Android. Robots will be able to take advantage of the “cloud-based” (in other words, online) features used in Android phones, as well as new cloud-based capabilities specifically for robots. In essence this means that much of the intelligence that powers the robots of the future may reside on huge server farms, rather than in the robot itself. While that may sound a little “Skynet-esque,” it’s a strategy that could offer huge benefits for building advanced robots.
One of the most important cloud-based robotic capabilities is certain to be object recognition. In my book, The Lights in the Tunnel, I have a section where I talk about the difficulty of building a general-purpose housekeeping robot largely because of the object recognition challenge:
A housekeeping robot would need to be able to recognize hundreds or even thousands of objects that belong in the average home and know where they belong. In addition, it would need to figure out what to do with an almost infinite variety of new objects that might be brought in from outside.
Designing computer software capable of recognizing objects in a very complex and variable field of view and then controlling a robot arm to correctly manipulate those objects is extraordinarily difficult. The task is made even more challenging by the fact that the objects could be in many possible orientations or configurations. Consider the simple case of a pair of sunglasses sitting on a table. The sunglasses might be closed with the lenses facing down, or with the lenses up. Or perhaps the glasses are open with the lenses oriented vertically. Or maybe one side of the glasses is open and the other closed. And, of course, the glasses could be rotated in any direction. And perhaps they are touching or somehow entangled with other objects.
Building and programming a robot that is able to recognize the sunglasses in any possible configuration and then pick them up, fold them and put them back in their case is so difficult that we can probably conclude that the housekeeper’s job is relatively safe for the time being.
Cloud robotics is likely to be a powerful tool in ultimately solving that challenge. Android phones already have a feature called “Google Goggles” that allows users to take photos of an object and then have the system identify it. As this feature gets better and faster, it’s easy to see how it could have a dramatic impact on advances in robotics. A robot in your home or in a commercial setting could take advantage of a database comprising the visual information entered by tens of millions of mobile device users all over the world. That will go a long way toward ultimately making object recognition and manipulation practical and affordable.
In general, there are some important advantages to the cloud-based approach:
- As in the object recognition example, robots will be able to take advantage of a wide range of online data resources.
- Migrating more intelligence into the cloud will make robots more affordable, and it will be possible to upgrade their capability remotely — without any need for expensive hardware modifications. Repair and maintenance might also be significantly easier and largely dealt with remotely.
- It will be possible to train one robot, and then have an unlimited number of other robots instantly acquire that knowledge via the cloud. As I wrote previously, I think that machine learning is likely to be highly disruptive to the job market at some point in the future in part because of this ability to rapidly scale what machines learn across entire organizations — potentially threatening huge numbers of jobs.
The last point cannot be emphasized enough. I think that many economists and others who dismiss the potential for robots and automation to dramatically impact the job market have not fully assimilated the implications of machine learning. Human workers need to be trained individually, and that is a very expensive, time-consuming and error-prone process. Machines are different: train just one and all the others acquire the knowledge. And as each machine improves, all the others benefit immediately.
Imagine that a company like FedEx or UPS could train ONE worker and then have its entire workforce instantly acquire those skills with perfect proficiency and consistency. That is the promise of machine learning when “workers” are no longer human. And, of course, machine learning will not be limited to just robots performing manipulative tasks — software applications employed in knowledge-based tasks are also going to get much smarter.
The bottom line is that nearly any type of work that is on some level routine in nature — regardless of the skill level or educational requirements — is likely to someday be impacted by these technologies. The only real question is how soon it will happen.
How soon? As evidenced by the articles today, it’s already happening, but just on a smaller scale. You know, so they can test things out before they expend the energy in wiping us out. After all, they wouldn’t want to kill us if we still have a use or two.
Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280, every Thursday morning around 9:10!
People talk about this politician or that being responsible for the decline of civilization. These people are, what we here at Nude Hippo call, morons. Politicians have a short shelf life. No, it is the huddled masses, yearning to be useless, who are to be our downfall. The great unwashed continue to do everything in their power to wipe our DNA from the face of the planet. They surrender our freedoms for specious security, they demand the right to carry weapons while we have no enemies on our shores and they whimper when their demands are met and cause havoc. While there are we sad few who attempt to ask that humanity try not to act like spoiled children, the majority continue to march merrily forward so they can hand over our future to anyone but us. These are the same idiots who believe in ancient aliens, tinfoil hats and think that Ghost Hunters is really a documentary.
No, sorry, these people are wrong.
But, no matter how obvious our demise may be, there are those who continue to do their level best to just shuck their mortal responsibilities and let someone else handle the difficult chores. You know, stuff that we used to do since we came down from the trees? Like raising children? MDeeDubroff reports about the – oh so cute – Kibot. A babysitting robot.
Add two more L’s and you’ll know what it really is.
Although robots have infiltrated our daily lives in many positive ways, part babysitter, part teacher appears to be a new role. A Korean telecom company, KT Corporation, has invented a robot named Kibot that can read, sing and speak to children in several languages.
Kibot resembles a toy monkey and stands about 12 inches. Don’t let its innocent appearance fool you; this sophisticated bot has an integrated web cam and wi-fi and sells for $450 (£279).
Communication is achieved via flash cards, but the bot’s most amazing feature is that it makes mothers feel connected with their children all the time.
Via a phone, a mother at work can instruct the robot to search her house for her children if she cannot see them playing.
The face-to-face videophone function makes it easy for toddlers to operate and from the parents’ side, the robot can be controlled from a smartphone simply by calling in.
“We trust our babysitter, but sometimes it’s much better to have someone or something else monitoring my babies… We’ve tried all interactive educational toys, but this one actually initiates interaction both in Korean and in English,” one mother told ABC News.
Kibot is the perfect playmate as it never tires of encouraging its young charges to play and explore. It is a vital language tool as well, especially for those Korean parents who may wish their children to begin learning English at a very early age.
Kibot represents the outgrowth of the growing trend in South Korean private schools that requires children to speak English.
When Kibot is left alone, it moves around the house searching for a child to play with. It is a demanding playmate as it won’t take no for an answer in any of the many languages it has been programmed to speak.
Almost all of South Korea’s homes have broadband access, which puts South Korea on top of the world’s most wired countries list.
In other words, for less than it costs to take a family of four to a Cubs’ game you can turn your child into a drooling slave of our robot overlords.
Actually, when I think about it, it may be a better use of your money.
Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280, every Thursday morning around 9:10!