Robots That Jump

Robot Bodies Needed Before Robot Minds

Monthly Archives: October 2013

Some people understand limits

A nice article in the NY Times today, on the DARPA Atlas robot. The author emphasizes the gap between fantasy and reality.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/22/science/robot-games-a-challenge-for-the-machines-and-the-controllers.html?_r=0

A few points the article makes:

The robot has to be tethered, since a slight mistake (e.g. a fall) would destroy it

The robot requires huge amounts of energy to operate, impossible to supply via current battery technology

The robot takes all day to move a couple of boards

Now, this is not an attack on the designers and programmers. Instead, it is a tribute to just how hard it is to make any robot do anything at all. Kudos to John Markoff, senior writer for The New York Times for getting it right.

Another kind of limit is discussed by the following article:

http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/terminator-hold-debate-stop-killer-robots-takes-global-stage-8C11433704

Here, the “killer robots” are mostly mis-interpreted as self-actuated “terminators” – when in face, they are almost all tele-operated drones. In short, the article, and many of those commenting in the article, act as if the problem was robots, rather than the people puppeting said metal puppets.

The final link is to a practical robot, primped to act more like an autonomous robot of imagination. After all, automatic milking machines have been around for many decades. Like the Mars rovers, there has been a deliberate attempt to make the machine seem more humanoid than it actually is. Sigh.

http://robohub.org/robots-futuredairy/

But, OMG what if these robotic machines get loose. What if they don’t just milk cows, but EVERYONE? Mayhaps we need a worldwide ban on autonomous milk-bots…before it’s too late!

This seems to be the theme of (yet another) Wired magazine article on how the robots will take over…

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/12/ff-robots-will-take-our-jobs/all/

Silly, because Marshall Brain discussed this in his “Robotic Nation” articles a decade ago:

http://www.marshallbrain.com/robotic-nation.htm