Tag Archives: robot

We’ve Built a Race of Robots

I’ve always wanted a robot. Or robots, actually. Just a couple of them, wandering around the house at all times. They don’t even need to do chores. They can just…be there. Being robots.

And I’m not talking about robots that are remote controlled. It has to have some kind of AI.

For me, the idea of robots just wandering around the landscape has been one of those signs that THE FUTURE IS HERE. It’s a sign that humanity has progressed enough that we can create something that can respond to us and grow and learn and become more than it was at the start.

It’s the idea of making a companion race to follow alongside us that’s so compelling. While I think it’s doubtful that we’ll find an alien lifeform of comparable intelligence and that is actually physically capable of talking with us, I do think there’s potential for us to create a new life and robotics is one of the keys to that.

So I’m going to build a robot. It’ll be very simple. No real programming. It’ll just follow a light. But it’s a start. I’ve ordered it already.

In a week or two, the future will be here.

-D-

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The Robot Menace

We all have different notions about what the future will be like, about what our world will be like. For some us, the Future will be signified by an ushering in of newer and better technology; whether it’s hover cars, molecule-sized computer, genetically engineered monstrosities or, in my case, robots.

For whatever reason, robots mean the Future for me. Robots fighting, robots flying, robots vacuuming the floor, robots fetching beers: that’s truly a sign that we’ve entered a new age. And not remote controlled robots either, but fully autonomous bots that are capable of learning and adapting to changes in the environment.

So I’m constantly scanning the news, looking for newer and better ‘bots. And by that, I don’t mean those terrifying monstrosities that the Japanese can’t get enough of. There is, apparently, no analogous term for “the uncanny valley” in Japanese.

I’m more interested in, say, the PR2. It learns to better do chores around the house. And look, it doesn’t have vaguely human features designed to send the user shrieking from the room. There’s also the blob-bot, which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a bot…that’s a blob. It moves through a complicated process that I can’t explain. Just watch the video.

But I think my interest (and the interest of many of the designers) goes deeper than just geeking out over cool tech. The idea of one of our creations being smart enough, flexible enough, human enough, to talk back to us is exciting.  I believe that humanity has, in general, always been on the lonely side. Our stories are populated with creatures and beings with brains that match ours and walk alongside us. We keep pets and then anthropomorphize the shit out of them. We keep a constant eye on the stars in the hopes that somewhere out there, there is intelligent life. Hopefully benevolent (or at least morally ambivalent) and willing to talk to us.

With artificial intelligence, it’s just one more way we’re trying to find a companion who is Other and, at the same time, very familiar.

Dylan Charles

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