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Archive for the 'Robotics' Category


Posted by J. Storrs Hall on November 7th, 2009

There was some objection to my post Is Robo Habilis a gateway to Intelligence? to the effect that it might take a lot of extra time to build the robots, and that would lengthen the time necessary to develop AI. That might certainly be true of the garage experimenter, but in the world at large, [...]

Is Robo Habilis a gateway to Intelligence?

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on November 5th, 2009

In response to my Robo Habilis post, Tim Tyler replied: An intelligence challenge should not involve building mechanical robot controllers – IMO. That’s a bit of a different problem – and a rather difficult one – because of the long build-test cycle involved in such projects. There are plenty of purer tests of intelligence that [...]

More on the AI takeover

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on November 4th, 2009

There are at least 4 stages of intelligence levels that AI will have to get through to get to the take-over-the-world level. In Beyond AI I refered to them as hypohuman, diahuman, epihuman, and hyperhuman; but just for fun let’s use fake species names: Robo insectis: rote, mechanical gadgets (or thinkers) with hand-coded skills, such [...]

Do we need Friendly AI?

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on November 2nd, 2009

My Robo Habilis post was picked up on by Michael Anissimov who wrote: (me:) It seems to me that one obvious way to ameliorate the impact of the AI/robotics revolution in the economic world, then, is simple: build robots whose cognitive architectures are enough different from humans that their relative skillfullness at various tasks will [...]

Robo Habilis

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on October 29th, 2009

One of the species of early hominids is named Homo habilis, meaning “handy man,” after their significant advancement in tool use over previous hominids. One of the goals of the AGI Roadmap is to chart paths to full human intelligence, and one of the paths might follow the one that evolution took. The Wozniak Test, [...]

AGI Roadmap meeting

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on October 28th, 2009

Foresight’s mission is essentially an educational one.  In simplest terms we are here to point out foreseeable technological developments that not only will make the future different from the past, but make it different in ways that aren’t obvious and which everyone isn’t already planning for. Nanotechnology — true nanotech in Drexler’s original sense of [...]

Atomic precision as the goal of nanotechnology

Posted by Christine Peterson on October 27th, 2009

Nanotechnology Enables Real Atomic Precision is the title of a piece by Susan Smith in Desktop Engineering, which includes comments by longtime Foresight Senior Associates Steve Vetter and Tihamer Toth-Fejel: While nanotechology might mean different things to different people, the term was originally coined to describe the building of things from the bottom up with [...]

The 2-millimeter dash

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on October 27th, 2009

The 2-millimeter dash was a nanobot race held as part of the 2009 RoboCup Nanosoccer Demonstration Competition.  That was July; typically entry time, as for Robocup 2010 in Singapore, would be year end, but I can’t see any announcement for it on their page.  Does anyone know any more details?

Server Sky: solar powered server and communications arrays in orbit

Posted by Christine Peterson on October 19th, 2009

Special thanks to longtime Foresight member Monica Anderson for setting up this November 4 Bay Area talk by another longtime Foresight member, Keith Lofstrom: Server-Sky: Solar powered server and communication arrays in Earth orbit. The EPA predicts US data center power consumption in 2011 will be  120 billion kilowatt hours, or 3% of total [...]

Robots: Our Future or Our End?

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on September 15th, 2009

I (and others) get interviewed by Minnesota Public Radio (podcast) about machine ethics… Robots: Our Future or Our End? | In the Loop | Minnesota Public Radio . Not deep but fun…

Lithographic Graphitic Memories

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on September 10th, 2009

Lithographic Graphitic Memories. HPC Wire reports that advances by the Rice University lab of James Tour have brought graphite’s potential as a mass data storage medium a step closer to reality and created the potential for reprogrammable gate arrays that could bring about a revolution in integrated circuit logic design. (H/T Sander Olson) (H/T Brian [...]

Singularity or Bust — update

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on September 9th, 2009

In Singularity or Bust I discussed the work of econophysicist Didier Sornette et al in using oscillating hyperexponentials to predict the collapse of Chinese equity markets. They have a new paper out which tells a bit more about how they predict the point of collapse. H/t Physics arXiv Blog. By combining (i) the economic theory [...]

IEEE Spectrum: Boston Startup iWalk Lands Funding for Robotic Prosthetics

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on September 2nd, 2009

IEEE Spectrum: Boston Startup iWalk Lands Funding for Robotic Prosthetics. If you wonder how soon we will have walking robots, remember that the technology underlying the Segway was developed for a stair-climbing wheelchair. From the article: I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Herr speak at an MIT robotics conference last November. At the time, [...]

Amazing image of single molecule from IBM Zurich

Posted by Christine Peterson on August 31st, 2009

Jason Palmer of BBC News brings us an AFM image from IBM Zurich which is simply wonderful: Their measurement of a pentacene molecule using this carbon monoxide tip shows the bonds between the carbon atoms in five linked rings, and even suggests the bonds to the hydrogen atoms at the molecule’s periphery. Breathtaking work by [...]

Accelerating Future » Folding DNA into Twisted and Curved Nanoscale Shapes

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on August 31st, 2009

Accelerating Future » Folding DNA into Twisted and Curved Nanoscale Shapes. Cool pics of some (artist’s conceptions of) shapes made from DNA.

Motoman SDA10

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on August 28th, 2009

This is the Motoman SDA10 15-axis robot (“for high level of dexterity and range of motion”) putting together an office chair. This is roughly the kind of thing we need for the Feynman Path assembly robot. (in case the embedding isn’t working on your browser, it’s here) There are several times when the Motoman uses [...]

Diffusion Tensor Imaging and the Economy of Mind

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on August 28th, 2009

More evidence for a Society of Mind model, complete with economics: The Brain Economy by Michael L. Anderson over at Forbes. Together with fMRI, DTI and connectomes offer an unprecedented opportunity to understand how the brain operates. This is similar to learning about a city from looking at a map. You could easily find major [...]

Flying Cars: how close are we?

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on August 24th, 2009

Previous in series: VTOL So, how close are we to flying cars? For specificity, let’s pick a technological bar to hurdle that answers most of the objections to the concept we’ve seen as comments on the previous posts: It should be relatively high-powered compared to current light craft. It should be STOVL for safety and [...]

Organic vs machine evolution

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on August 5th, 2009

A short comment on Drexler’s paper Biological and Nanomechanical Systems: Contrasts in Evolutionary Capacity:  He distinguishes two types of design, O-style (like organic) and M-style (like mechanical) systems.  He points out that O-style systems are much more robust to incremental design modification, where M-style systems require coordinated changes that are much, much less likely to happen [...]

Learning and AGI

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on July 31st, 2009

Yesterday I wrote that we don’t have a clue how learning works. If that were as categorically true as I made it sound, the prospects of AGI would be pretty much sunk. AGI requires getting up to the universal level of a learning machine: one that can in theory learn anything any other learning machine [...]