After The Battle of Queens, They Simply Called It "Limpy"...

When the horrid robot armies come for your rag-tag band of survivors, you'll only need to destroy their mode of locamotion, right? I mean, you just get Kyle Reese in there with a well placed pipebomb, and he'll, heroically, blast one of the bastard's motional limbs off and another one bites the dust, yeah?

Well, maybe not. In this particularly spine-tingling example remitted to us by our Astoria Queens correspondent, Stacktion, we can see that the evil robot acolytes are leaving no digital stone unturned to make sure that your every avenue of escape will be adroitly removed from the playbook. No need even to "fix-a-flat", your local Evil Robot sentry will be able to handily re-compensate and continue its spirit-crushing pursuit of you and yours. Nice try though Kyle, nice try...

"Robots will eventually provide tremendous benefits to society, especially if they can complete tasks too dangerous for humans to perform," [ ERN - Ha! Like the wholesale dispatch of said humans you mean!? ] study author Jeff Clune of the University of Wyoming told The Post. Many roboticists hope their creations will end up digging for survivors in treacherous rubble and fighting deadly fires in man's stead. "But robots won’t be effective in those situations if they can’t adapt and continue on after being damaged," Clune said."

Full Story @ Wash Post

All of Your Job Are Belong to Us!

Do you have a job? In the United States and, as we understand it, many other places around the world, this is a pretty fair question.

It will come as no surprise to just about any man woman or child on Earth that we aren't exactly reaping the benefits of a robust demand for labor. In fact, we could use every spare opportunity to get an unemployed or under-employed person into a gainful postion of employment.

Well it seems like we're going to have to have an uphill battle for parity in this area, seriously complicated by, you guessed it...

Now, it's easy to understate the import of this particular device; reconnoitered and reported on by our College Station Correspondent, Lurch; who himself hates folding laundry, as I am sure do his lovely wife and remarkable chldren; but hey, somebody's gotta do that 'ish right? A robot that takes forever-times to fold a towel (we hear you cry)? What is teh big dealz!?

Well, my skeptical friends, here is a tip. All protoypes suck, all of them. Once they are pounded out though, even in their most humble iterations; it's the first step in the continual refinement, strengthening and, eventual, lock down of their dark capabilities - be not duped - at which point human beings is in mad trouble son! So, get your thinking correct; all levels, all vectors, all potential threats.

Get ready to duck...

"Seven years ago, Pieter Abbeel set out on a quest: to teach a robot how to fold laundry. This proved to be a remarkably difficult task — and the difficulty of the task illuminates some key things about the limits of machines.

Abbeel, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, named his robot BRETT — short for the "Berkeley Robot for the Elimination of Tedious Tasks."...The solution was super complicated. "Can you use multiple images to build a 3-D model of the current shape?" Abbeel says. "Because once you can do that, then you can analyze that 3-D shape [and] find where the corners are."

Abbeel and his colleagues solved the problem, sort of. After years of work they taught BRETT to fold a towel in 20 minutes — eventually he learned to do it in a minute and a half. But he can still get stumped by things like a bundled-up sock or an inside-out onesie."

Full Story @

Anxious Braniacs Begin to Concede on Problematic Issue of Fake, but Rigorously Competent, Intelligence

The veritable laundry list of technologists, thinkers and women and men of science in general, are beginning to form a fairly formidable quorum around the issue of Artificial Intelligence (the premonitory shock wave of the actual appearance of gut chewing Evil Robots). Bill Joy, Nick Bostrom, Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates all chiming in [ERN - We assure you, there are many more]; no dunce caps there. Now, as well, The Astronomer Royal, Sir Martin Rees, and hey, that guy's no slouch. So, in the gathering digital white noise that will, eventually, become our fog of war, we see the modern sages huddled and whispering; "That can't be good...right?"

" We’re witnessing a momentous speed-up in artificial intelligence (AI) – in the power of machines to learn, communicate and interact with us. Computers don’t learn like we do: they use “brute force” methods. They learn to translate from foreign languages by reading multilingual versions of, for example, millions of pages of EU documents (they never get bored). They learn to recognise dogs, cats and human faces by crunching through millions of images — not the way a baby learns.

Deep Mind, a London company that Google recently bought for £400 million, created a machine that can figure out the rules of all the old Atari games without being told, and then play them better than humans. "

Full Story @ The Telegraph


Recently we've seen a lot of stories about robots as couriers. Google, Amazon and other corporate entities have expressed interest in prototyping and experimenting with robotic and drone delivery. Turns out, expectedly, everybody is getting in on the game.

We are going to see the "courier space" for robotic devices expand significantly, and soon. The business, intelligence, science and, let's face it, "prank" spaces are just too tempting to leave unexplored. You think Ashton Kutcher is a douche bag? Wait until you get punked by an evil robot...

What if though, the things that the bonnie wee robot brings are not exactly bowls of free candy?

It seems like not all of Tokyo's robotics engineers are pleased with Prime Minister Abe's statesmanship, surrounding the, quite horrible, "Fukushima problem".

"Japanese authorities have launched an investigation after a small drone reportedly containing traces of radiation was found on the roof of the prime minister’s office, sparking concerns about drones and their possible use for terrorist attacks.

No injuries or damage was [sic] reported from the incident on Wednesday. The prime minister, Shinzo Abe, who is at present in Indonesia, works at the building during the day and commutes from his own private home roughly 15 minutes away.

Police said it was not immediately known who was responsible for the drone."

Full Story @ The Guardian

Great Minds Think Alike

When it comes to waving the flag of community alert around the, frankly obvious, threat of humanity being collectively turned into an ultra-precise mince by Evil Robots, we will take any help that we can get. It's just gravy when this help comes from "high quarters" of intellectual reputation.

The, what I think would be fair to call "imminent", philosopher, Nick Bostrom has expressed his, well considered, concern with the existential risk that might be introduced by the development of what he refers to as "Superintelligence". Again, we appreciate the input of "rarefied minds" in all of this, but frankly, we're taking all comers;

Eliezer Yudkowsky put it this way:

"The AI does not hate you, nor does it love you, but you are made out of atoms which it can use for something else." [ ERN - Indeed... ]

"Over the past year, Oxford University philosophy professor Nick Bostrom has gained visibility for warning about the potential risks posed by more advanced forms of artificial intelligence. He now says that his warnings are earning the attention of companies pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence research.

Many people working on AI remain skeptical of or even hostile to Bostrom’s ideas. But since his book on the subject, Superintelligence, appeared last summer, some prominent technologists and scientists—including Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and Bill Gates—have echoed some of his concerns. Google is even assembling an ethics committee to oversee its artificial intelligence work."

Full Story @ Technology Review


In the immortal words of Uncle Stan, 'Nuff Said...

More about this @ every single media outlet ever, ever...

The Secret Life of Evil Robot Bees (v 1.1)

As we've discussed here before, rather than reinvent the proverbial wheel, Evil Robotics Engineers well know that mimicry, Bio-Mimicry to be specific, is often a much shorter route to the subjugation of human-kind. All manner of robots are being created that draw their design and hints of their funtionality from various animal species. In this way, time, resources and effectiveness can be leveraged and also the empathies we have for animal forms can be more effectively played upon.

Under the (U.S.) Army Research Lab’s Micro-Autonomous Systems Technology Collaborative Technology Alliance (MAST), the specific form of mimicry that they are finding the most interest in, in this case, is the quality of insect vision.

"Another kind of approach is the butterfly inspired super-small MAV under development at Johns Hopkins University, Brown University’s fruit bat study, and the “dragonfly” MAV from the German company Festo. All three are engineered to mimic the flight characteristics of their respective namesakes, but they don’t come anywhere near resembling butterflies or dragonflies, or, for that matter, fruit bats.

The Army’s new biomimicry MAV falls into the latter category, but with a twist. The developers aren’t so much interested in the particular mechanics of their MAV’s flight. The real area of biomimicry focus is in the way these MAVs see.

Specifically, Army researchers were attracted by the wide field and high update rate that characterizes insect vision. The goal is to develop a small device that can fly into a building, map the interior in 3D, and provide feedback on movements within the building.

Also distinguishing this project from others is the autonomy of the MAV. The developers, which include Carnegie-Mellon University as well as the US Army Research Laboratory, are aiming for self-guided devices that can act autonomously as team members, rather than requiring hands-on direction."

Full Story @ CleanTechnica

See Jane, See Spot. See Jane Run From Spot. See Spot...Oh My God...

Our good friends at Boston Dynamics, who are it seems, our most prolific regional (Eastern United States) creator of unsettling things; have now added another model to their increasingly high-visibility "Dog Series" of highly mobile, and disturbingly robust, robots.

This smaller, apparently lighter, model is the little brother of the Big Dog. This suggests significant progress in the design, component organization and the overall efficiency of this machine, which is probably a bad thing.

Our College Station correspondent, Lurch, ever vigilant in the South Central Region, was quick to bring this to our attention. We've brought it just as adroitly to yours. What motivates Boston Dynamics, do you think, to forge these little harbingers of doom? That is to say, where does its ultimate market lie, would you think? They would, no doubt, be making similar robots just for fun, but at this level of expertise and complexity, there is, similarly little doubt, that they see a lucrative production market somewhere in their not too distant future. Again, what might be your best guess as to where that market might lie? An open ended question; we will give you time to consider while we soothe you with a little "ERN Shock Doctrine"...

Look out now!

All sorts of more unsettling things to be found in our search bar, and at the eastern americas campus branch of "Evil Robot Central" [Well publicly accessible Evil Robot Central anyway, you know what it is...] @ Boston Dynamics

A New (Manchurian) Candidate

The long and winding road of electronics theory and engineering and the discrete electrical components that it has relied on are surprisingly stable; resistors, capacictors, inductors, etc. and, of course, the famous transistor.

We've made a great deal of progress with the increased level of skill, materials-knowledge and intricacy with which we've engineered these devices over the years, on the whole though, the "toolbox" has remained remarkably consistent.

It's worthwhile noting though, that there is a relative new kid on the block, who may not only ammend the way we look at electronics, but indeed, may begin to allow the electronics to look back at us...

Meet the Memristor:

Invasion At "Swarming-dy"

A lot of times, one thinks of being crushed by a giant titanium claw or being ground into hamburger by clobbering, servo-driven fists when one thinks of demise at the hands of Evil Robots. There is a growing "liliputian" aspect to the whole scheme that is sometimes overlooked though.

Imagine if you were to go to sleep one night, only to awaken to the terrible realization that a swarm of tiny collaborative robots have constructed a cage around your unconscious form! Seems to be well in the realm of science fiction, no?

Well, as it turns out, such a scenario is ever closer to non-fiction. The fantastically clever minds at SRI International are busy as can possibly be bringing the potential of this type of technology into eye watering focus.

"Take a look at the speed of these micro-robots, created by SRI International; a swarm of up to 1,000 of the tiny robots can work together on tasks.

(Magnetically Actuate Micro-Robots)

The research powerhouse says the bots can construct lightweight, high-strength structures; handle tiny electrical components; carry out chemistry on a chip; and perform many other manufacturing tasks. Eventually, they expect that the machines, the smallest of which are no thicker than a dime, will even be able to build smaller versions of themselves."

Full Story @ Technovelgy


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