So the media last week was absolutely full of the latest Sure Sign that the robocalypse is immanent: apparently, Google-backed DeepMind have now managed to create an AI so very sophisticated that it has beat human champions at the ancient Chinese board-game of Go. DeepMind’s AlphaGo has defeated the European champion, which marks another important development in the progress of AI research, trumping IBM DeepBlue’s victory over Gary Kasparov at chess back in 1997: Go is, apparently, a much more difficult game for humans – and, it was thought, for computers – to master, due to its complexity and the need for players to recognise complex patterns. Continue reading →
More then ever scientists are using a nature-inspired approach to build biomimimetic robots. Developed after through investigation of biological systems, these robots are a wonder of engineering and artificial intelligence research.
Robotic Lobster by Prof. Josef Ayers at Northeastern University. Photography Jan Witting
As promised, following on from the last blog looking at some of the (rather comical) ideas by a pastor in the United States to convert intelligent robots to Christianity, it is perhaps necessary to look at other ways in which religion might impact on the future of artificial intelligence and robot design. However, rather than speculate as to the (very unlikely) possibility that sentient AI might suddenly find itself bereft of spiritual guidance and seek answers to the riddles of the Universe in our humble human mythologies (again, consider the fallible logic of QT1 in Asimov’s short-story ‘Reason’), it is perhaps more productive to examine how our own religious impulses and biases might affect our technological creations.
For it seems that, just like the Abrahamic God, we are creating robots in our own image (though, as we will see, this impulse is not limited to the Abrahamic religions). Continue reading →
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.
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.