Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Japan Targets Mind-Reading Robots by 2020

From, Japan eyes 'mind-reading' devices, robots by 2020: report.
An engineer uses a device that detects brain activity patterns to communicate with a computer at the CeBIT trade fair in Hanover in 2008. Japan plans to develop "mind-reading" robots and consumer electronics that can be controlled by thought alone and hopes to market them within a decade, the Nikkei daily has reported.
Japan plans to develop "mind-reading" robots and consumer electronics that can be controlled by thought alone and hopes to market them within a decade, the Nikkei daily reported Thursday.

Alan E. Singer Reviews Moral Machines

Alan E. Singer has written a most interesting review of Moral Machines for Human Systems Management.
Designers of artificial moral agents (AMA’s) or eth- ical (ro-)bots will be informed by this book. However, it will also challenge moral philosophers and anyone involved in teaching ethics. Indeed, an alternative sub- title: “teaching ethicists right from wrong” would be quite appropriate. The book demonstrates quite con- vincingly that “you don’t really know how something works if you can’t build it”, so that “robotocists are doing philosophy, whether or not they think this is so” [5]. Yet this “philosophy” is plugged: an experimental and constructive “computational philosophy” that fits well with the notion of knowledge as coordination-of- action (e.g. [12]) and the associated position that the physical and mental worlds (are becoming) one and the same1 In addition, the task of AMA design and con- struction repeatedly spins-off sharply-framed questions that are both philosophical and technological.

[5] D.C. Dennett, Cog as a thought experiment, Robotics &
Autonomous Systems 20(2–4) (1997), 251–256
[12] M. Zeleny, Human Systems Management, World Scientific, London, 2007.

The full review titled, Philosophy plugged: How robotics informs ethics, can be found here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

U.S. Congress and American Bar Association on Robots

From Ryan Calo's Robotics and The Law blog, we discovered a link to the Robotics Caucus of the U.S. Congress, and also discovered that the American Bar Association has a committee for robots and artificial intelligence.

Members of the Congressional Robotics Caucus include:

Rep. Mike Doyle D-PA, Co-Chair Rep. Phil Gingrey R-GA, Co-Chair

Rep. Jason Altmire D-PA
Rep. Tammy Baldwin D-WI
Rep. Brian Bilbray R-Ca
Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-GA
Rep. Joe Barton R-TX
Rep. Michael Capuano D-MA
Rep. Kathleen Dahlkemper D-PA
Rep. Susan Davis, D-CA
Rep. Vern Ehlers R-MI
Rep. Parker Griffith, D-AL
Rep. Doug Lamborn R-CO
Rep. John Lewis D-GA
Rep. Jerry McNerney D-CA
Rep. Alan Mollohan D-WV
Rep. Dennis Moore D-KS
Rep. Jim McGovern D-MA
Rep. Tim Murphy R-PA
Rep. John Murtha D-PA †
Rep. John Olver D-MA
Rep. Todd Platts R-PA
Rep. Tim Ryan D-OH
Rep. Joe Sestak D-PA
Rep. Jan Schakowsky D-IL
Rep. Bill Shuster R-PA
Rep. Bennie Thompson D-MS
Rep. Glenn Thompson R-PA
Rep. John F. Tierney D-MA
Rep. Niki Tsongas D-MA
Rep. Zach Wamp R-TN
Rep. Diane E. Watson D-CA
Rep. Robert Wittman R-VA
Rep. Bill Young R-FL

Welcome to Robotics and The Law Blog

Ryan Calo has started a blog on Robotics And The Law: Chronicling robotics programming at Stanford Law School. We welcome this sister blog given the need for serious reflection regarding responsibility, accountability, liability, and insurance policy for robotic devices, and well as a host of other issues.

Initial posts from Ryan include Robots and Privacy, Robots and Warfare, and Section 230 Immunity For Personal Robots. There is also a video from the recent Stanford Robot Block Party, which is embedded below.

A Samsung Robot In Every Home By 2020?

Ben Goertzel posted this article about the current state of robotics in Korea after a recent trip there.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sentient Cities

Sensors Make Cities Smarter: In the not too distant future, cameras and sensors will empower officials to instantly monitor constantly changing dynamics.
While the technology for a sentient city is already available, what's missing is the ability to connect all the different data streams to form a comprehensive picture of a city's happenings. Wilmington, N.C., however, is trying. In February, the city and surrounding New Hanover County launched a pilot that could make it the nation's first true smart city. Using cameras and sensors, the city will analyze and respond to everything from traffic congestion and fuel consumption to water quality and sewage capacity.

Unsurprisingly there are privacy concerns. While most citizens probably don't mind the idea of pole-mounted devices collecting data on rainfall or air pollution, they are likely to be less receptive to the notion of cameras or traffic sensors that follow their movements throughout a city. Those kinds of concerns are not insurmountable, but they must be dealt with, says Cleverley, who notes that Chicago adopted a policy with its vast network of cameras that individuals' faces are, by default, blurred out. Law enforcement officials must go through an approval process, akin to obtaining a warrant, if they want to look for a specific person.

In the end, the collection of sensor data isn't what's important--it's how a city uses that information. "You can deliver better outcomes for society if you think about a city as a system of systems," says Cleverley. "What these technologies do is make it easier to track these systems. What they don't do is guarantee success."

Rescue Robots

Dr. Robin Wright, Director of CRASAR: Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue at Texas A&M University maintains an interesting blog on the use of robots during disasters. Recent posts have discussed the use of mobile robots for mine rescue and during search and rescue after an earthquake, such as the one that recently hit Chile.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

X-37B Autonomous Orbital Test Vehicle

Huffington Post is reporting that the Air Force this month plans to launch the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle. The X-37B is a small reusable vehicle that is launched by conventional rocket. The exact mission details are sketchy, but include testing of guidance, navigation, control, thermal protection and autonomous operation in orbit, re-entry and landing.