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Archive for the 'Robotics' Category

Berkeley gets Willow Garage robot to fold towels: video

Posted by Christine Peterson on April 6th, 2010

Finally, the first step has been made toward the longed-for goal of a robot which can do laundry: Of course, this also gives us some idea of other formerly human-only tasks that robots are likely to take over in the next decade or two. Thanks to for bringing this to our attention.  —Chris [...]

Air jet manipulation

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on December 8th, 2009

One of the fastest-growing general areas of technology, of which robotics is just a part, is the ability to control things using increasingly sophisticated theory and algorithms, and the ability to run non-trivial simulation models as part of the control process. Consider this use of compressed air jets: From the report at IEEE [...]

Cryonics and Philosophy of Mind

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

There’s an interesting debate between Bryan Caplan and Robin Hanson on their respective blogs. Caplan writes: … Robin didn’t care about biological survival.  He didn’t need his brain implanted in a cloned body.  He just wanted his neurons preserved well enough to “upload himself” into a computer. To my mind, it was ridiculously easy to [...]

Reynolds advocates faster nano/AI R&D for safety reasons

Posted by Christine Peterson on November 19th, 2009

In Popular Mechanics, longtime Foresight friend Prof. Glenn Reynolds looks at the future of nanotech and artificial intelligence, among other things looking at safety issues, including one call that potentially dangerous technologies be relinquished.  He takes a counterintuitive stance, which we’ve discussed here at Foresight over the years: But I wonder if that’s such a [...]

Moore’s Law Marches On

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on November 12th, 2009

According to the loose length-scale based definition, nanotechnology has long since conquered the world: feature sizes in microprocessors have been below the 100 nanometer mark for some time, qualifying them, if anyone wanted to, to be called nanoprocessors. The latest reports and plans are mentioning 22-nanometer parts just 2 years from now: DailyTech – AMD [...]

The bad robot takeover

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

From the Albany (OR) Democrat Herald: Phone robots: Let’s all rebel By Hasso Hering, Columnist | Posted: Saturday, November 7, 2009 11:45 pm What this country needs – even more than a shorter baseball season so the World Series doesn’t go into November – is a popular uprising against the tyranny of telephone robots. This [...]


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 [...]