Tag Archives | Robotics

Should we criminalise robotic rape and robotic child sexual abuse?

Editor’s note: We want to thank John Danaher for publishing his thought provoking work under a Creative Commons License. Support him by following his blog or following him on Twitter. If you like his essays, you’ll love his Twitter account.

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I recently published an unusual article. At least, I think it is unusual. It imagines a future in which sophisticated sex robots are used to replicate acts of rape and child sexual abuse, and then asks whether such acts should be criminalised. In the article, I try to provide a framework for evaluating the issue, but I do so in what I think is a provocative fashion. I present an argument for thinking that such acts should be criminalised, even if they have no extrinsically harmful effects on others.… Read the rest

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Scientists Have Put a Worm’s Mind in a Lego Robot’s Body


via IFL Science:

Beneath the skin of a simple worm with transparent skin, there are 302 neurons that have been mapped meticulously by researchers in what is known as a connectome. This tiny, one millimeter-long worm has been studied in laboratories around the world, and now it’s nervous system has been transplanted into the body of a Lego Mindstorms EV3 robot. The worm they used is Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans).

Why? According to OpenWorm—an organization dedicated to creating the world’s first virtual organism in a computer—to understand the human brain, we must first be able to comprehend a simple worm. To do so, their scientists essentially reverse-engineered the worm’s neural networks using sensors and software. The model makes use of UDP packets to fire neurons. For example, the sonar sensor on the robot is wired to be like the worm’s nose, which means if the robot comes within 20 centimeters of an object, sensory neurons are activated with UDP packets.

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High school girls build kick-ass robots

Rebecca Selah (CC BY 2.0)

Rebecca Selah (CC BY 2.0)

via The Verge:

Girls don’t like robots.

Fredi Lajvardi heard that a lot. As a high school science teacher in urban Phoenix, he ran into roadblocks whenever he tried to recruit girls to the school’s robotics club. Male students and even some teachers offered a variety of excuses: they’re not good at building things; they don’t care about engineering; they don’t know how to use power tools.

Lajvardi didn’t believe it, even when female students said they weren’t interested in the robot team. To Lajvardi, it was a puzzle that needed a solution. He was born in Iran but his family moved to the US when he was one year old. As a high school student in Phoenix during the Iran hostage crisis in the early 1980s, he got beat up for being Iranian. It didn’t matter that he’d left Iran as an infant; the bullies just saw his otherness and hurt him for it.

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Skynet Has Arrived? European Union Unveils RoboEarth, An Internet Just For Robots

tape_robotScientists have created a network which various smart devices and artificial intelligences will use autonomously to share information and learn from each other – increasing their capabilities. Should we just surrender now? The BBC reports:

A world wide web for robots to learn from each other and share information is being shown off for the first time. The system has been developed by research scientists from Philips and five European universities including Eindhoven.

It is the culmination of a four-year project, funded by the European Union. The eventual aim is that both robots and humans will be able to upload information to the cloud-based database, which would act as a kind of common brain for machines.

“At its core RoboEarth is a world wide web for robots: a giant network and database repository where robots can share information and learn from each other,” said Rene van de Molengraft, the RoboEarth project leader.

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Google Buys Military Robotics Contractor

The company that creates terrifying machines such as BigDog, CHEETAH, and PETMAN for the Pentagon's DARPA division is now a subsidiary of Google. It remains to be seen how Google plans to combine the deployment of robots such as BigDog (below) with its knowledge of your intimate personal information and location at all times. The New York Times reports:
Google confirmed on Friday that it had completed the acquisition of Boston Dynamics, an engineering company that has designed mobile research robots for the Pentagon. The company, based in Waltham, Mass., has gained an international reputation for extraordinarily agile machines that walk with an uncanny sense of balance and even — cheetahlike — run faster than the fastest humans. Executives at the Internet giant are circumspect about what exactly they plan to do with their robot collection.
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What Happens When Soldiers Get Attached to Their Robots?

leiaThere’s an interesting article at Medical News Today about the phenomenon of soldiers become emotionally attached to the robots they use in combat.

Via Medical News Today:

It’s becoming more common to have robots sub in for humans to do dirty or sometimes dangerous work. But researchers are finding that in some cases, people have started to treat robots like pets, friends, or even as an extension of themselves. That raises the question, if a soldier attaches human or animal-like characteristics to a field robot, can it affect how they use the robot? What if they “care” too much about the robot to send it into a dangerous situation?

Keep reading.

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Developing Robots To Care For The Elderly

robots

Will you believe your grandparents when they swear to you that the robots have turned on them? Via the Telegraph:

Experts believe that Linda, a £25,000 robot, could be the perfect solution to one of the biggest hazards facing elderly residents in care homes: falls.

Continuously sweeping the building in search of distressed residents is exactly the kind of repetitive task to which robots are ideally suited.

Not only could robots like Linda patrol corridors for continuous surveillance 24 hours a day, but they could perform additional tasks such as carrying messages or escorting patients to appointments.

The problem of teaching machines to distinguish between an everyday situation and an emergency is now being tackled by a £7m EU-funded project being conducted at six universities in Britain and abroad.

The project, known as STRANDS (Spatio-Temporal Representations and Activities for Cognitive Control in Long-term Scenarios) is focused on programming robots to learn about their environment and recognise when something is amiss.

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Slime Mold Expresses Its Emotions Through Robotic Face

Android technology may reveal the inner lives of simple and mysterious creatures, in disturbing fashion. Via New Scientist:
Slime mold finds the quickest path between food and has even shown signs of having memory – despite not having a brain. A human-like robot face has been hooked up so that its expressions are controlled by the electrical signals produced when yellow slime mold shies away from light, or moves eagerly towards food. Physarum polycephalum is a common yellow slime mold which ranges in size from several hundred micrometres to more than one metre. It is an aggregation of hundreds or thousands of identical unicellular organisms that merge together into one huge "cell" containing all their nuclei.
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