Illah Nourbakhsh on the Future of Robotics

9. July 2014

Date: 09-07-2014Strelka
Source: The Wall Street Journal

The Carnegie Mellon Professor Says Robots Will Fuse the Physical and Digital Worlds Into One

Dr. Nourbakhsh is a professor of robotics and director of the Create Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, and the author of “Robot Futures.”

Sunday, April 1, 2035. You are house-hunting, driving to an open house showing to meet the owners, and now your car is speaking Esperanto, thanks to your daughter’s April Fools’ antics. Eventually you convince the car to return to your native tongue, and it queries whether you want your usual morning Starbucks cappuccino delivered to your destination. You arrive, jump out, and a Starbot punctually lands to deliver its coffee payload. Consulting the shared family calendar, the car requests permission to leave and fetch your daughter from soccer.

A Realtor bot trundles out to warmly greet you and connects you via telepresence to the homeowners, who are still in Florida. Together, you and the robot-embodied owners tour the apartment. The bot offers to arrange and project your home furnishings into each room, remapping furniture locations and adding several retro 1990s table lamps made available for single-command purchasing. The lamps seem strangely familiar, and you realize why—you glanced at them in a digital storefront last week. The robo-advert must have tracked your gaze direction and, ever since, you have seen digital versions of the lamps cropping up everywhere. The telepresence patch that the owners are using is probably free, sponsored by product placement. By the end of the tour, you’ve decided against the apartment, but you buy the lamp, asking for in-home delivery. It will be 3D-printed on-demand, installed and turned on, waiting for your return home.

The robots are coming. But they won’t all be shiny, Apple-designed C-3PO look-alikes with middle-aged Siri brains. I believe the robot invasion will be a hodgepodge affair, with legs, propellers and wheels; robots that run the gamut from embodied android forms to robotic technologies hidden in the woodwork of our homes. Read the rest of this entry »


Google’s founders on the future of health, transport – and robots

9. July 2014

In a rare dual interview, Larry Page and Sergey Brin reveal that a young Google could have sold out to Excite, and explain how computers will enable us all to work less

google founders
Google’s founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page discuss self-driving cars, robots, health and relationships. Photograph: Paul Sakuma/AP

When Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, sat down for a rare frank and open chat with the veteran technology venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, they admitted, among other things, that Google is interested in healthcare but scared of its intense regulation.

Page and Brin displayed their quite different personalities: Brin the maverick and head of Google X – who attempted to kite-board his way to the interview – and Page the business-focused executive now CEO.

The dynamic duo have been together for 16 years, and described their relationship as a bit like an old married couple. “You don’t get agitated about one little thing or another,” said Brin. “We work through it.”

Google almost sold to Excite

Before the company had really started becoming the dominant search engine and the portal to the web, Google almost sold itself to a search engine company called Excite. Read the rest of this entry »


Robot ethics: Morals and the machine

1. June 2012

Date: 01-06-2012
Source: The Economist

As robots grow more autonomous, society needs to develop rules to manage them

IN THE classic science-fiction film “2001”, the ship’s computer, HAL, faces a dilemma. His instructions require him both to fulfil the ship’s mission (investigating an artefact near Jupiter) and to keep the mission’s true purpose secret from the ship’s crew. To resolve the contradiction, he tries to kill the crew.

As robots become more autonomous, the notion of computer-controlled machines facing ethical decisions is moving out of the realm of science fiction and into the real world. Society needs to find ways to ensure that they are better equipped to make moral judgments than HAL was. Read the rest of this entry »


Foxconn, HSBC Join Global Trend: Technology Reducing Labor Costs

7. August 2011

Date: 05-08-2011
Source: International Business Times

For corporations, people are becoming a redundancy. Reliance on technology to reduce costs and increase efficiency is a corporate trend that has contributed to high unemployment rates. An International Business Times article reports the trend is expanding into areas often blamed for jobs lost in the developed world: the world of finance and outsourcing to China. HSBC Bank and Foxconn, the maker of Apple’s iPad, are investing in robots to replace workers, by 30,000 and 1 million, respectively. “We used to talk about the great work-place shift that would occur one day because of technology as something for the future,” writes David Magee. “But it’s no longer the future.” Profitable companies are investing profits in technology rather than labor, and Magee adds, “Workers who don’t evolve, finding a niche among such technological advancement with proper training, will be left behind – standing in a very long unemployment line.” Education, understanding fast-changing technology, is increasingly essential for securing employment in the modern workplace. – YaleGlobal Read the rest of this entry »