Saturday, October 31, 2009

ICRAC and a Conscience for Drones

An article in The Times titled, Can you give a drone a conscience? discusses not only plans by the Bristish and US defence forces for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) but also cites the formation of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC).

However, it is ethical issues arising from hunter-killer UAVs now in development, and not the use of Reapers, that are under discussion. Christopher Coker, Professor in International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science, will ask delegates at the RUSI conference: “Can you give a drone a conscience?”

The debate about if and when a UAV can be given an artificial conscience that will allow it to operate autonomously in theatre and discriminate, for example, between combatants and civilian targets has intensified since the launch last month of ICRAC, formed by Professor Sharkey with three academics from Australian, German and US universities. “With UAVs like the Reaper, there is still, at the moment, a human being in the loop, who will decide when, why and whom to kill,” Professor Sharkey says. “I know that British sorties make every effort to ensure the risk of collateral damage is minimised. However, UAVs now in development are creeping towards autonomy.”

Monday, October 26, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Robot Skier Trains for the Giant Slalom

Motoman Prepares Breakfast and Performs Industrial Feats

More vidos and article by Aaron Saenz titled, Motoman Robot Does It All in Videos.

Synchronized Industrial Robot Dancers are "In The Mood"

Intel's Robot Marvin Feeds Itself

Intel has demonstrated a robot that can feed itself by finding an electrical outlet and plugging itself in. Aaron Saenz writes in an articled titled, Intel Robot Senses Wall Outlet, Plugs Itself In, that:

teaching a robot to recharge itself is just the first step in a long journey towards autonomy. Eventually robots will need to diagnose damage to their hardware or software, and either repair themselves or travel to a maintenance facility. Full automation will also require robots that are built, installed, perhaps even designed by other machines. All along this path of development, robots will require progressively more complex sensors and reasoning capabilities. Hopefully other robotics engineers will take Marvin’s use of ROS as proof of the benefits that open source software and compatible hardware can have when trying to focus on sensing and programming. Working together robot designers can better equip robots to work by themselves.

Panasonic's Home Use Service Robots

Among the service robots Panasonic recently introduced is a bed with TV that can be transformed into a motorized car. Because of issues around safety standards, Panasonic is not yet ready to market the device, however, the company believes that eventually it will be sold for 1-1.5 million yen (roughly $11,000). An article and video on Panasonic's new service devices is available at Singularity Hub. The article titled, New Panasonic Robots To Assist The Elderly, was written by Aaron Saenz.

While many of these robots aren’t likely to see distribution until well into the next decade, Panasonic already has plans to start sales on a dispensary robot next year. That bot will provide the correct (pre-determined) medications when a patient’s ID number is supplied. Robots represent a large capital investment for long term savings in labor, so forward looking healthcare providers may act soon to test if the devices will help mitigate the looming aging population crisis.

Robot Hoax Fools Many

Just in time for Halloween, a UK entertainment company called Cyberstein presents a dancing, joking, singing, and incredibly agile robot that has fooled people into thinking it is real. The monstrous Titan conjures up fantasies of what might happen if this behemoth turned wacko. However, there is a reason Titan is so large, there is a person inside. Read an article about Titan by Keith Kleiner titled, Titan Robot Wows, Frightens . . . But Its Fake.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

tin can thoughts: A Blog of Interest

Those following this blog will also find tin can thoughts: A Place to Talk about the Newest Technologies and the Ethical Issues Behind Them of interest. That blog is managed by AJung Moon, a graduate student at the University of British Columbia. Some of the postings on the Moral Machines blog came to our attention while reading tin can thoughts.

Chembot being developed by iRobot

iRobot Corporation has been developing a bot that can shift from one shape to another. IEEE Spectrum carries an article on this new technology titled, iRobot's Shape-Shifting Blob 'Bot Takes Its First Steps.

This is by far one of the coolest and weirdest robot prototypes we at IEEE Spectrum have ever seen.
Meet iRobot's soft, shape-shifting robot blob. It rolls around and changes shape, and it will be able to squeeze through tiny cracks in a wall when the project is finished.

David Hanson and Empathy in Robots

Henry Markham at TED: Building a Supercomputer Brain

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sliding and Dancing Robot Featured at Robo-One in Toyama City, Japan

Robot Cars Acting Like Fish

A school of robot cars developed by Nissan are capable of avoiding crashes by acting like fish, according to an article by Tim Hornyak titled, Nissan's robot cars mimic fish to avoid crashing.

The Eporo, Nissan says, is the first robot car designed to move in a group by sharing its position and other information. The aim is to incorporate the technology into passenger cars to reduce accidents and traffic jams.
Although a group of Eporos may look like a gang of cybernetic Jawa, Nissan says the cars' design was inspired by the way fish move in schools.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Where Robocars Will Take Us

Brad Templeton has a very interesting website on robotic cars or:
how computer geeks can enable the electric car, save the planet and millions of lives using near-term A.I. to make taxis and trucks deliver, park, recharge and drive themselves.

The case for robot cars

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Rothblatt, Kurzweil, Wallach Panel Available Online

The panel at the Woodstock Film Festival was jammed and broadcast by livestream to over 600 viewers. The feedback I have received is that the discussion was considered to be among the best ever on the prospects for Redesigning Humanity. But you be the judge. A recording of the panel is available at the 2B website. When a better quality broadcast of this panel becomes available, I'll post a link.

2B debuts at the Woodstock Film Festival

2B, a film produced by Martine Rothblatt, directed by Richard Kroehling, and starring James Remar, Kevin Corrigan, and Jane Kim debuted last night before a sellout audience at the Woodstock Film Festival. I was at the premiere and can attest that this fascinating movie was very well received by the audience. The movie is based on a Martine Rothblatt vision of the transition to transhumanity. The production values are extremely high, and while a limited budget meant that 2B lacks the special effects we have come to expect in SciFi, the film will keep you intrigued and make you think. To my mind, 2B is destined to be a cult classic. The trailer and more information are available at the 2B website.

Interviews of Interest: Sparrow, Altmann, and Pereira

A podcast on Robot Arms Control, where Rob Sparrow and Juergen Altmann are interviewed by Noel Sharkey is available online. This will be Programme 69 (25th September 2009) on the Sound of Science website.

Luis Moniz Pereira was interviewed by a South Korean radio station about his approach to programming moral decision making. Click here to access that podcast.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Able to leap tall fences with a single bound

Is an International Treaty needed to limit robotic weaponry?

An International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) was founded after a two day meeting in Sheffield, UK earlier this month. The four founding members include Noel Sharkey, physicist J├╝rgen Altmann of Dortmund University of Technology, Germany; Robert Sparrow of the Centre for Human Bioethics, Monash University, near Melbourne, Australia; and philosopher Peter Asaro of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

NewScientist posted a story on the founding of ICRAC titled, Campaign asks for international treaty to limit war robots.

ICRAC fears the principle of keeping a "man in the loop" will be eroded, so that the next generation of robot soldiers will be trusted with life-or-death decisions. Indeed, research into just such scenarios is taking place with US military funding.

The committee is also worried that countries will be more likely to go to war if their casualties will be robots rather than human soldiers. They have also raised the danger of autonomous systems starting and escalating conflicts automatically.