The Future of Insects - Frogs Don't Stand a Chance

April 07 2008 / by Accel Rose / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 9

In the future nanotechnology will empower not just humans, but will enable Super Bugs as well. Here’s a fun clip that illustrates just how powerful the Insect of Steel may become:

While this is of course a bit absurd, I could see high-priced government bugs with on-board electric shock, bad taste or sonic defenses ready for birds, lizards or pesky little children.

Future Robots Will Be Transformers

May 29 2008 / by Accel Rose / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: 2008   Rating: 9 Hot

If you’re a big Transformers fan, as am I, then you’re going to dig this video of a new robot that can drive on wheels one moment, then reconfigure to walk on eight legs the next:

Seeing this functional version of a bot that can change its form leads me to believe that multi-function, multi-shape robots are likely to be the future. I mean, why not cram as many features as you can into a single robot? We’re already doing that with every other device ever made.

When Will You Lose Your Job to Robotics?

May 27 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: Beyond   Rating: 6 Hot

Futurist and professor Paul Saffo thinks that just as Japan will transition to a robotic society, so too will the United States and the rest of the world. He predicts the transition over here will be “more messy” and that a booming robotic manufacturing industry could potentially devastate the economy.

“New technology may destroy old jobs, but it also creates more jobs than it destroys,” explains Saffo in a recent Fora interview (see below), but “that may not be the case with the world of ubiquitous manufacturing robots.”

He points out that rapidly advancing robotics are replacing large manufacturing chunks one industry at a time. “What you see are industries calving off like icebergs, just a whole industry drops away, suddenly the human operators disappear,” he says. (cont.)

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Learning From Robots

June 26 2008 / by juldrich / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Business & Work   Year: 2020   Rating: 6 Hot

By Jack Uldrich

Cross-posted from www.jumpthecurve.net

When contemplating the future, people need to keep a very open mind about what might be possible. Consider this article which describes how researchers at UC San Diego are developing facial recognition technology that can recognize if a person is having trouble understanding an educational lesson – say in mathematics or biology.

As the technology continues to improve, one possible implication is that smart devices and robots will become better and more effective teachers because they will be able to pace lesson plans to an individual student’s ability to comprehend the information which is being presented.

Longer term, it is possible that robots and other smart devices will become more effective teachers than even human teachers because the machines will understand each student’s learning idiosyncrasies and then present material in a manner which is optimized for that individual student’s learning style.

Now, I understand how discomforting the idea that a robot might be a better teacher than your old favorite third grade teacher, Mrs. Hubbard, ever was; but, as that wise American philosopher Yoggi Berra once said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.” (cont.)

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A MAV-erick Defense Policy

September 18 2008 / by juldrich / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Business & Work   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

By Jack Uldrich

Cross-posted from www.jumpthecurve.net

At present, the United States government spends hundreds of billions of dollars in an effort to keep this country safe at home and defeat its enemies abroad. Much of the money is well spent but, often, I can’t help but feel we are wasting precious resources fighting “the last war.” As I argued in this piece a few weeks ago, we should instead bestudying the first six months of the next war.”

To end this end, I’d like to introduce you to a revolutionary new technology which could, in the words of the chief scientist of the U.S. Air Force, be a real “game-changer.” The Air Force calls the technology Micro Air Vehicles (or MAVs) and they are small, robotic drones (roughly the size of small birds) that could conceivably follow a terrorist back into a cave in Afghanistan and eliminate him.

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Garbage Spiders: Future Robots that Efficiently Piece Together and Monetize the Past

October 15 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Security   Year: 2020   Rating: 6 Hot

Atop a garbage heap amidst the expansive Westchester Landfill an iRobot Refuse Quantifier (iRQ) deftly went about its lucrative business.

Credit card receipt: inconclusive. Candy wrapper: M&M logo, no fingerprint. Check fragment: inconclusive. Candy wrapper: M&M logo, no fingerprint. Candy wrapper: Almond Joy, smudged fingerprint, image stored to temporary cache. Comb: zoom, hair strand: 92% match. Load level 2 protocols. Letter fragment: stamp fragment, zoom, puncture, contaminated sample. Product box fragment: Nintendo Wii logo, burnt, no data. Shredded tax documents: inconclusive, coordinates tagged in case of reassembly contingent on identity correlation.

The mechanical spider legs pumped and the little scavenger-bot systematically inched left, establishing a better focus point for its frontal laser array. The iRQ began scanning the next set of coordinates.

Tax document fragments continued. Shredded letters – stamp, saliva, contaminated. Faded notebook: pen indentations still palpable, scanning Page 1, correlation 18%. Load notebook sequence.

Shifting the bulk of its weight to its hind legs, the spider freed up the instrument-loaded fore-pincers and carefully commenced flipping pages.

Page 2: read ink, map indents, cross-reference Page 1, revise correlation, 64% – nearing identity threshold. Flip. Page 3: read ink, unique phrase discovered, initiate semantic sub-routine #22. Page 4: undecipherable complex symbols, snapshot, map indents, revise correlation… Sub-routine results registered. Revise correlation, 69%. Resume indent correlation, 73%, identity threshold reached. Regional identity match: subject #D471D-MZ. Persistent video commence. Ping spiders. Stream information to local node.

An identity match for a primary target had been established! Power surged from the tertiary battery outward as the spider maxed both input and broadcast. But something was wrong. The swarm network was not responding. Thus it was highly probable that the iRQ was now invisible to its peers and ultimately its owner.

Re-broadcast for 3 seconds. No ping back. Defensive algorithm, blend. Scan for disruption, risk assessment. Attempt new frequencies. Multiple frequencies inoperable. 84% deliberate disruption, 62% location awareness, evasive algorithm.

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8 Useful Creatures that Military Robots Could Mimic to Devastating Effect

September 23 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Security   Year: General   Rating: 3

We’ve seen some amazing robots recently. There’s the robotic tuna fish that will hopefully revolutionize the submarine world, there’s the super-realistic cod developed in Japan which still creeps me out, and of course let’s not forget the giant robotic spider that made Liverpool it’s home until it was herded into a tunnel by flamethrowers, hopefully never to be seen again (that thing still gives me nightmares).

The idea that these robots could be used by the military is very realistic. And while robotic fish are a great choice (imagine thousands of silent torpedoes, swimming around the ocean, looking for enemy ships), a giant spider might not be such a great choice. It’s an easy target, doesn’t hide very well, and despite the terror of facing one, you could outrun it easily.

So what things in the world should the military imitate in their desire for the perfect robotic weapon?

Children: My personal favorite. The idea that a simple child could be a deadly robot just makes so much sense to me. I mean, why would you think that five year old huddled in the corner in fear is actually programmed to rip your throat out?

Hornets: Already feared by all, the technology involved in making a hornet capable of delivering a poison sting, or possibly performing recon on enemy sites is too great to pass up. You could let a million of them loose on the countryside, spanning entire continents, looking for any sign of enemy activity (or even spying on other countries in peacetime).

Bats: It’s been tried before in World War II with live bats strapped to bombs (it didn’t work, go figure), but robotic bats would be stealthy and unnoticed. Their primary use would be night surveillance since any other creature flying around at night would be incredibly suspicious. On top of that, they could roost during the day, recharging their batteries with the Sun.

Snakes: Snakes are stealthy, can move efficiently on the ground, and have incredible senses. Now this could mean you could use it for surveillance, crossing a mine field,even silently taking out guards. Don’t forget there are sea snakes too. The only problem you’d run into is if you tried to invade Ireland, whoops.

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For the Upcoming Robot Apocalypse, the First Robot Defense Company

October 20 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Security   Year: Beyond   Rating: 2

If you’re worried about the upcoming robot apocalypse featured prominently in movies like iRobot or Terminator, check out this concept of a defense company that deals specifically with the growing robotic threat.

Weapons Against Robots (WAR) is a defense company that specializes in combating our titanium oppressors. They feature products such as advanced weapon systems, detection systems (that way you won’t have to train dogs to sniff them out) and “robo virus” protection that promises “real time infiltration, adaption and reporting.”

Although the site is probably just an artistic mock-up or a futurist marketing ploy, it’s still a kick. Check it out.

How seriously should we take the growing robotic threat?

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Robotic Pursuit Squads are a Forgone Conclusion

October 28 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Technology   Year: 2013   Rating: 2

How likely is it that 5 years from now, sometime in 2013, the U.S. government will employ a pack of search robots to track human fugitives, enemy combatants or other persons of interest?

Though such an endeavor would mark a serious increase in up-front and maintenance cost, it could also make operations safer for pursuing officers or soldiers and gradually increase the capture success rate. At the same time such a scenario would also thoroughly freak-out an American population increasingly on edge about government intrusion and technological capabilities.

Here’s an example of what such a future might look like, drawn by MemeBox illustrator Lars Olson:

As it turns out, just a few days ago the U.S. Army put out this call for bids on exactly such a project. Their desired outcome is for some smart folks to:

Develop a software and sensor package to enable a team of robots to search for and detect human presence in an indoor environment. [and] Develop a software/hardware suit that would enable a multi-robot team, together with a human operator, to search for and detect a non-cooperative human subject.

If in fact you doubt the near-term likelihood of such a technology suite and program, then look no further than nascent functional technologies such as the surprisingly agile and stable Big Dog robot and already marketed aerial microdrone cameras.

A quick look at these prototype vids should quickly get you on the path to belief:

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Cyborg Creatures Already Exist as Bugs, Birds, Rats and Sharks

December 04 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: 2015   Rating: 2

If there's one thing that could creep you out this morning, it's that cyborg creatures (bugs, rats, birds and sharks) already exist.  Researchers have been working heavily into cyborg creatures in order to reduce the cost of developing miniature robots.  "The motivation is simple: why labour for years to build robots that imitate the ways animals move when you can just plug into living creatures and hijack systems already optimised by millions of years of evolution?"  DARPA has heavily funded research into this kind of field, possibly hoping for a bug which can buzz around a room, spying on inhabitants.

Cyborg creatures feature heavily in science fiction movies, and not just for spying.  Often cyborgs are touted as superior to robotic creatures since they combine real intelligence with robotic structure.  It's weird to think of, but we may well be seeing rat-brain powered personal robots before robotic intelligence gets good enough to take over.  Your dog can be taught to fetch the paper and all other sorts of tricks, why not more complicated tasks if given a better body?  Fido, go do the laundry!

Check out the full article regarding cyborg developments at the NewScientist.

Robotic Tank Built by Two Guys In Maine For Only $1 Million

December 05 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: 2010   Rating: 2

What you're looking at is a robotic tank that is capapble of ruining your world.  Built by twin brothers in Maine, the Ripsaw MS1 is capable of speeds up to 60mph, can perform maneuvers that would leave a crew bruised and battered, and can be outfitted with a remotely operated machine gun.  On top of this, it's extremely rugged, easy to fix, and can caarry a payload of up to 2,000 pounds.  This is one mean machine.

The crazy thing is that this was built by two guys in Maine for about $1 million dollars.

via HackaDay