Tag Archives | Robotics

Would You Switch Off A Robot If It Begged Not To Be?

Will our machines acquire the ability to convince us that they are in fact alive? An unsettling study at the the Netherlands’ Eindhoven University of Technology:

This video shows an experiment in which participants are asked to switch off a robot and thereby killing it. The robot begs for its live and we measured how long the participants hesitated.

The perception of life largely depends on the observation of intelligent behavior. Even abstract geometrical shapes that move on a computer screen are being perceived as being alive… in particular if they change their trajectory nonlinearly or if they seem to interact with their environments.

The robot’s intelligence had a strong effect on the users’ hesitation to switch it off, in particular if the robot acted agreeable. Participants hesitated almost three times as long to switch off an intelligent and agreeable robot (34.5 seconds) compared to an unintelligent and non-agreeable robot (11.8 seconds).

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The Pressing Conundrum Of Creating Moral Machines

Via the New Yorker, Gary Marcus on how we will soon need our machines to be ethical, but have no idea how to do this:

Google’s driver-less cars are already street-legal in California, Florida, and Nevada, and some day similar devices may not just be possible but mandatory. Eventually automated vehicles will be able to drive better, and more safely than you can; within two or three decades the difference between automated driving and human driving will be so great you may not be legally allowed to drive your own car.

That moment will signal the era in which it will no longer be optional for machines to have ethical systems. Your car is speeding along a bridge when an errant school bus carrying forty children crosses its path. Should your car swerve, risking the life of its owner (you), in order to save the children, or keep going?

Many approaches to machine ethics are fraught [with problems].

Read the rest

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Think Tank To Study The Risk Of A Genocidal Robot Uprising

Good to know that we may finally have an answer on this. The BBC reports:

Cambridge researchers at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) are to assess whether technology could end up destroying human civilisation. The scientists said that to dismiss concerns of a potential robot uprising would be “dangerous”.

Fears that machines may take over have been central to the plot of some of the most popular science fiction films. But despite being the subject of far-fetched fantasy, researchers said the concept of machines outsmarting us demanded mature attention. “The seriousness of these risks is difficult to assess, but that in itself seems a cause for concern, given how much is at stake,” the researchers write.

The CSER project has been co-founded by Cambridge philosophy professor Huw Price, cosmology and astrophysics professor Martin Rees and Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn. Prof. Price said that as robots and computers become smarter than humans, we could find ourselves at the mercy of “machines that are not malicious, but machines whose interests don’t include us”.

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Robots ‘R’ Us: Drones Reportedly Used On 63 U.S. Bases

Altair UAVIt’s easy to understand why presidents, politicians and the military love robots. They don’t talk back. They follow orders.  You press a button and they do what they are told. They are considered so efficient, and so lethal.

These modern killing machines represent science fiction reborn as science “faction.” Robots and drones don’t burn Korans or pose with the heads of their captives on the battlefield. (Robots also don’t protest wars.)  Lose the human factor and you get silent but deadly total destruction.

And that’s why drone warfare has become such a weapon of choice. You have video game jockeys sitting on their asses in front of consoles of digital displays at an Air Force base outside Las Vegas, targeting suspected terrorists in Afghanistan. After a couple of quick kills, they take the rest of the day off.

It’s only later, that we get the reports of civilians decimated as collateral damage.… Read the rest

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Mars Viking Robots ‘Found Life’

Viking LanderReports Irene Klotz on Discovery News:

New analysis of 36-year-old data, resuscitated from printouts, shows NASA found life on Mars, an international team of mathematicians and scientists conclude in a paper published this week.

Further, NASA doesn’t need a human expedition to Mars to nail down the claim, neuropharmacologist and biologist Joseph Miller, with the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, told Discovery News.

“The ultimate proof is to take a video of a Martian bacteria. They should send a microscope — watch the bacteria move,” Miller said. “On the basis of what we’ve done so far, I’d say I’m 99 percent sure there’s life there,” he added. Miller’s confidence stems in part from a new study that re-analyzed results from a life-detection experiment conducted by NASA’s Viking Mars robots in 1976.

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The Origami Micro-Robot Bee

The bee population may be collapsing, which potentially means a big blow to our food supply and civilization itself. But, at least we have an idea of the replacement that will emerge from the rubble — the beautiful, tiny, easily mass-produced robo-bee that will flutter through the future:

The Harvard Monolithic Bee is a millimeter-scale flapping wing robotic insect produced using Printed Circuit MEMS (PC-MEMS) techniques.

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DARPA’s Robot Mules Carry 400 Lbs, Never Tire (Video)

Stan Schroeder writes on Mashable:

The typical soldier can only carry about 100 lbs. worth of gear, but not indefinitely. DARPA’s (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) new robotic mule, however, can carry 400 lbs. of gear and never get tired — and it can do it with a surprising degree of agility.

Physical overburden of soldiers is one of the top five biggest challenges for the U.S. army, according to DARPA, and a semi-autonomous legged robot, officially named the Legged Squad Support System (LS3), might be one way of fixing that problem …

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