C-Enduro vehicle sets off Credit: National Oceanography Centre
Several decades ago, Earth observation satellites transformed how we keep track of changes on our planet. Now we are rapidly crossing a new technological threshold that will allow us to pick up even the most subtle variations in the environment.
Imagine swarms of autonomous robots roaming the globe by land, sea and air, together producing the ultimate picture of what is going on on our planet. This great vision is already becoming a reality – or at least with respect to the sea.
With the official Ebola death toll approaching 5,000, scientists are increasingly concerned with exploiting all possible ways of fighting this deadly disease. While the biggest labs around the world are working on a vaccine that will hopefully exterminate Ebola once and for all, roboticists are developing more unconventional ways of preventing the spread of the disease.
Technological Singularity is based on the prediction that the development of AI powerful enough to surpass human intelligence will change the world as we know it, leading either to a catastrophic end of the human kind or to its miraculous ascent.
In a recent article in the Guardian, Alan Winfield, professor of electronic engineering at the University of the West of England, Bristol, discusses the pitfalls of being overly pessimistic or optimistic about the Technological Singularity.
Everybody has been in a situation when we wish we had stronger arms or, even better, an extra pair of them. Whether it is attaching something large overhead or manipulating something heavy, we all know we are bound to run into the limitations of our own anatomical design. In some professions, such as construction work, these difficulties can surface practically every day. To make physical drudgery less stressful and traumatic, researchers around the globe are now developing a new kind of robots that will be worn on the body just like your regular backpack.
Information can be scary, and even more so when we find ourselves humbled by its immensity. In a press release issued earlier this week, the European Commission has once again demonstrated that it is not afraid of big data. Quite the opposite, Europe is more than ever ready to embrace it – a gesture, which is reflected in Europe’s strong bet on research projects like CEEDs, which uses big data to enhance human cognition and improve problem solving.
Should we make robots more human-like? A hit Swedish TV showhas a say
Credit: Real Humans
Although we may be decades away from building truly life-like humanoid robots, it is never too early to start questioning the legal and ethical implications of creating machines that are hard to tell apart from ourselves. In a brave leap of imagination, Real Humans, a popular Swedish TV show, written by Lars Lundstroem, deliberately blurs the line between humans and robots to explore what it means to be human.
Last week, the eyes of the scientific community were fixed on the € 1.2 billion Human Brain Project (HBP) as more than 150 European neuroscientists raised concerns over the project’s management in an open letter to the European Commission.
One of the two Europe’s Flagship Initiatives, the HBP spans 112 research institutions across 24 countries and was launched last year with the grand vision of creating a long-needed ICT infrastructure for future brain research. Not without controversy, the project adopted a bottom-up approach to build a computer simulation of the brain based exclusively on the fundamental understanding of neurons and their interactions.
A new European project hopes to make robots more trustworthy
Year by year, robots become better and better at negotiating each time more complex social interactions with humans. However, much as their social intelligence has improved, these interactions still suffer from a lack of transparency. In other words, unlike humans, robots are not capable of understanding and explaining their actions in intentional terms, which prevents them from having more effective communication with humans. To the joy of robots and humans alike, this challenge is now addressed by the What You Say Is What You Did (WYSIWYD) project, launched earlier this year.
Pepper, a new humanoid robot introduced earlier this month in Japan, may herald the beginning of a new era in personal robotics. Unlike its ancestors, such as Mitsubishi’s Wakamaru and Sony’s QRIO, who had to join the halls of robot extinction, Pepper, developed jointly by the French robotics company Aldebaran and the Japanese telecom giant SoftBank, is here to stay.