There is a robot on sale in Japan billed as the first humanoid robot designed to live with humans. It has proved to be very popular — however, before you bring Pepper home, you must sign a contract promising not to have sex with it.
Two nude women dance on stage with a ‘robot’ in a show at London Casino, 1937 (General Photographic Agency, Getty)
For the first time ever, a virtual reality recording system will be flown in space. The project, announced by Deep Space Industries (DSI), will use a spherical video capture system to create a virtual reality float-through tour of the International Space Station‘s science lab.
Feeding into the exciting growth of VR systems created by Oculus Rift, Sony, and Samsung, this project, initiated by DSI, is a cooperative effort with Thrillbox, and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), managers of the ISS U.S.
National Laboratory. This innovative partnership will allow, for the first time, anyone with a VR headset to have a fully immersive astronaut experience aboard the International Space Station. Additionally, CASIS will use the spherical video to familiarize potential researchers with the scientific facilities on the ISS National Lab.
“The space station is packed with equipment, literally in every direction. Gear is built into the walls, embedded in the floor, and tucked into the ceiling,” said
David Gump, DSI Vice-Chair. “The spherical video captured during a float through will enable people to look everywhere, as they would if they were up in the station themselves.”
Deep Space Industries began the project as an early step in developing VR systems to be used for exploring and mining asteroids, and brought in Thrillbox to focus on distributing the captured images to the greatest number of people.
The partnership between Thrillbox and DSI provides the right combination of expertise in space operations and virtual reality, creating a successful project that provides value for CASIS and offers a unique experience to consumers.
The ISS Floating Tour, in addition to being an amazing experience for high-end devices such as the upcoming retail Oculus Rift and PlayStation headsets, also will be viewable on high-resolution smartphones and tablets.
“As excitement about spherical video spreads to more people, Thrillbox is providing a universal player for web sites and personal computers that delivers a sophisticated way to handle this new format,” said Benjamin Durham, CEO of Thrillbox. “The partnership with DSI will allow us to distribute this unique space experience to consumers around the world.”
A video capture rig with multiple cameras covering a spherical field of view will provide a “you-are-there” experience never before available. In addition to entertaining consumers, this detailed video will be used by CASIS for educating potential researchers and potentially by NASA for familiarizing future ISS crews with the ever-changing internal arrangement of the station’s gear and supplies. Read the rest of this entry »
We just found a fantastic new addition to our collection of The Last Supper parodies. Entitled Robot Rescue, this version depicts the iconic meal taking place in a pastoral setting. Floating robot eyes and an alien invasion seem to be interrupting the meal and a bright red robot is seated in place of Judas Iscariot. But all the nearby sheep don’t appear to be the least bit disturbed by this strange turn of events.
This awesome painting is the work of California-based artist Mark Bryan (previously featured here), who created it (starting with a vintage paint-by-number kit) for Robot Carnival, a new group exhibition at Gallery 1988 (West) in Los Angeles. The robot-themed show is on display through November 7, 2015. Click here to view the entire lineup.
[via Popped Culture]
Source: Archie McPhee’s
Cover Art Earle Bergey, 1952
You Be The Electronic Man – ‘The latest brainstorm of the Brain!’ Advertisement featured in the Dan DeCarlo comic, The Brain! #6, January 1958. (via Pappy’s Golden Age Comics Blogzine)
In recent times it has become appealing to believe that your dead brain might be preserved sufficiently by freezing so that some future civilization could bring your mind back to life.
Kenneth D. Miller writes: Some hominid along the evolutionary path to humans was probably the first animal with the cognitive ability to understand that it would someday die. To be human is to cope with this knowledge. Many have been consoled by the religious promise of life beyond this world, but some have been seduced by the hope that they can escape death in this world. Such hopes, from Ponce de León’s quest to find a fountain of youth to the present vogue for cryogenic preservation, inevitably prove false.
“Assuming that no future scientists will reverse death, the hope is that they could analyze your brain’s structure and use this to recreate a functioning mind, whether in engineered living tissue or in a computer with a robotic body.”
In recent times it has become appealing to believe that your dead brain might be preserved sufficiently by freezing so that some future civilization could bring your mind back to life. Assuming that no future scientists will reverse death, the hope is that they could analyze your brain’s structure and use this to recreate a functioning mind, whether in engineered living tissue or in a computer with a robotic body. By functioning, I mean thinking, feeling, talking, seeing, hearing, learning, remembering, acting. Your mind would wake up, much as it wakes up after a night’s sleep, with your own memories, feelings and patterns of thought, and continue on into the world.
I am a theoretical neuroscientist. I study models of brain circuits, precisely the sort of models that would be needed to try to reconstruct or emulate a functioning brain from a detailed knowledge of its structure. I don’t in principle see any reason that what I’ve described could not someday, in the very far future, be achieved (though it’s an active field of philosophical debate). But to accomplish this, these future scientists would need to know details of staggering complexity about the brain’s structure, details quite likely far beyond what any method today could preserve in a dead brain.
“By functioning, I mean thinking, feeling, talking, seeing, hearing, learning, remembering, acting. Your mind would wake up, much as it wakes up after a night’s sleep, with your own memories, feelings and patterns of thought, and continue on into the world.”
How much would we need to know to reconstruct a functioning brain? Let’s begin by defining some terms. Neurons are the cells in the brain that electrically carry information: Their electrical activity somehow amounts to your seeing, hearing, thinking, acting and all the rest. Each neuron sends a highly branched wire, or axon, out to connect or electrically “talk” to other neurons. The specialized connecting points between neurons are called synapses. Memories are commonly thought to be largely stored in the patterns of synaptic connections between neurons, which in turn shape the electrical activities of the neurons.
Much of the current hope of reconstructing a functioning brain rests on connectomics: the ambition to construct a complete wiring diagram, or “connectome,” of all the synaptic connections between neurons in the mammalian brain. Unfortunately connectomics, while an important part of basic research, falls far short of the goal of reconstructing a mind, in two ways. First, we are far from constructing a connectome. The current best achievement was determining the connections in a tiny piece of brain tissue containing 1,700 synapses; the human brain has more than a hundred billion times that number of synapses. While progress is swift, no one has any realistic estimate of how long it will take to arrive at brain-size connectomes. (My wild guess: centuries.)
Second, even if this goal were achieved, it would be only a first step toward the goal of describing the brain sufficiently to capture a mind, which would mean understanding the brain’s detailed electrical activity. Read the rest of this entry »
Dozens of countries amass cyberweapons, reconfigure militaries to meet threat.
“The acronym was MAD—mutually assured destruction—which kept everything nice and tidy. Here you have the same acronym, but it’s ‘mutually assured doubt,’ because you can never be sure what the attack will be.”
Getting into the cyberweapon club is easier, cheaper and available to almost anyone with cash and a computer.
A series of successful computer attacks carried out by the U.S. and others has kicked off a frantic and destabilizing digital arms race, with dozens of countries amassing stockpiles of malicious code. The programs range from the most elementary, such as typo-ridden emails asking for a password, to software that takes orders from a rotating list of Twitter handles.
The proliferation of these weapons has spread so widely that the U.S. and China—longtime cyber adversaries—brokered a limited agreement last month not to conduct certain types of cyberattacks against each other, such as intrusions that steal corporate information and then pass it along to domestic companies. Cyberattacks that steal government secrets, however, remain fair game.
This comes after other countries have begun to amass cyberweaponry on an unprecedented scale. Pakistan and India, two nuclear-armed rivals, regularly hack each other’s companies and governments, security researchers said. Estonia and Belarus are racing to build defensive shields to counter Russia. Denmark and the Netherlands have begun programs to develop offensive computer weapons, as have Argentina and France.
In total, at least 29 countries have formal military or intelligence units dedicated to offensive hacking efforts, according to a Wall Street Journal compilation of government records and interviews with U.S. and foreign officials. Some 50 countries have bought off-the-shelf hacking software that can be used for domestic and international surveillance. The U.S. has among the most-advanced operations.
In the nuclear arms race, “the acronym was MAD—mutually assured destruction—which kept everything nice and tidy,” said Matthijs Veenendaal, a researcher at the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, a research group in Estonia. “Here you have the same acronym, but it’s ‘mutually assured doubt,’ because you can never be sure what the attack will be.”
Governments have used computer attacks to mine and steal information, erase computers, disable bank networks and—in one extreme case—destroy nuclear centrifuges.
Nation states have also looked into using cyberweapons to knock out electrical grids, disable domestic airline networks, jam Internet connectivity, erase money from bank accounts and confuse radar systems, experts believe.
Large conventional militaries and nuclear forces are ill-suited to this new kind of warfare, which evens the playing field between big and small countries. Cyberattacks are hard to stop and sometimes impossible to trace. The West, as a result, has been forced to start reconfiguring its militaries to better meet the threat.
“With some countries, we’re comfortable with knowing what their capabilities are, but with other countries we’re still lost. We don’t have the visibility into their toolset.”
— Andre McGregor, a former cyber special agent at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and now the director of security at Tanium Inc.
Access to cyberweapons, according to U.S. and foreign officials and security researchers, is far more widespread than access to nuclear weapons was at the height of the nuclear arms race, a result of inexpensive technology and the power of distributed computing.
“It’s not like developing an air force…You don’t need to have your own cyberforce to have a very robust and very scary offensive capability.”
— Michael Schmitt, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College and part of an international group studying how international law relates to cyberwarfare.
More than two dozen countries have accumulated advanced cyberweapons in the past decade. Some Defense Department officials compare the current moment to the lull between the World Wars when militaries realized the potential of armed planes. Read the rest of this entry »
— Rob Mejia (@Enigma905) October 8, 2015
Japanese electronics maker Hitachi said it has developed a new artificial intelligence program that will enable robots to deliver instructions to employees, improving work efficiency.
The Japanese electronics maker said it has developed a new artificial intelligence program that will enable robots to deliver instructions to employees based on analyses of big data and the workers’ routines.
“The AI automatically analyzes the outcome of these new approaches, and selects processes which produce better results and applies it to the next work order.”
“Work efficiency improved by 8% in warehouses with the new artificial intelligence program, compared to those without them,” a Hitachi spokeswoman said. “The program can examine an extremely large amount of data to provide the most efficient instruction, which is impossible for human managers to handle.”
Drones are being used to capture video footage that shows construction progress at the Sacramento Kings’ new stadium.
Will Knight writes: For some construction workers, any thoughts of slacking off could soon seem rather quaint. The drones will almost certainly notice.
“It’s not new to the construction industry that there would either be people standing and observing operations, or that there would be fixed cameras. Yes, making this autonomous has a different feeling for the workers.”
The workers building a lavish new downtown stadium for the Sacramento Kings in California are being monitored by drones and software that can automatically flag slow progress.
“But you have to keep in mind that it’s not really questioning the efficiency of the workers, it’s questioning what resources these guys need to be more efficient.”
The project highlights the way new technologies allow manual work to be monitored and scrutinized, and it comes as productivity in other areas of work, including many white collar jobs, is being tracked more closely using desktop and smartphone software.
“We highlight at-risk locations on a site, where the probability of having an issue is really high. We can understand why deviations are happening, and we can see where efficiency improvements are made.”
— Mani Golparvar-Fard, an assistant professor in the department of civil engineering at the University of Illinois, who developed the software with several colleagues
Once per day, several drones automatically patrol the Sacramento work site, collecting video footage. That footage is then converted into a three-dimensional picture of the site, which is fed into software that compares it to computerized architectural plans as well as a the construction work plan showing when each element should be finished. The software can show managers how the project is progressing, and can automatically highlight parts that may be falling behind schedule.
“We highlight at-risk locations on a site, where the probability of having an issue is really high,” says Mani Golparvar-Fard, an assistant professor in the department of civil engineering at the University of Illinois, who developed the software with several colleagues. It can show, for example, that a particular structural element is behind schedule, perhaps because materials have not yet arrived. “We can understand why deviations are happening, and we can see where efficiency improvements are made,” Golparvar-Fard says.
Such additional scrutiny is controversial. It raises worries over worker privacy, for instance, and fears that people may be encouraged to work excessive hours.
“Such additional scrutiny is controversial. It raises worries over worker privacy, for instance, and fears that people may be encouraged to work excessive hours.”
Golparvar-Fard concedes that this could be an issue, but he defends the idea. “It’s not new to the construction industry that there would either be people standing and observing operations, or that there would be fixed cameras,” he says. “Yes, making this autonomous has a different feeling for the workers. But you have to keep in mind that it’s not really questioning the efficiency of the workers, it’s questioning what resources these guys need to be more efficient.” Read the rest of this entry »