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The US Army is helping fund a research project at the University of California, Berkeley, with a focus on developing intelligent robots that don't require extra sensors or software. The robot, which physically looks like a cockroach, is able to overcome obstacles on its own.
The ability to teach robots and AI to identify - and successfully navigate obstacles without human guidance - is a difficult task.
"The majority of robotics studies have been solving the problem of obstacles by avoiding them, which largely depends on using sensors to map out the environment and algorithms that plan a path to go around obstacles... however, when the terrain becomes densely cluttered, especially as gaps between obstacles become comparable or even smaller than robot size, this approach starts to run into problems as a clear path cannot be mapped," said Chen Li, lead author of the UC Berkeley research, in the Bioinspiration & Biomimetics journal.
The unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded two minutes after launch, when its two stages were expected to separate. This is the first time in 19 launches that ended in failure, as the 63-meter rocket was able to complete six cargo trips to the ISS and has a 15-flight contract with NASA.
Falcon 9 experienced a problem shortly before first stage shutdown. Will provide more info as soon as we review the data.- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 28, 2015
Musk offered a second statement: "There was an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank. Data suggests counterintuitive cause. That's all we can say with confidence right now. Will have more to say following a thorough fault tree analysis."
We're only 15 years away from the year 2030, where we're expected to see human brains assisted by nanobot implants that will turn us into "hybrids", according to one of the world's leading thinkers.
The Director of Engineering at Google, Ray Kurzweil, has said that in the 2030s, we will see implants connecting humans to the cloud. We would then be able to pull information from the cloud, from our own brains, all while information will be allowed from your brain to the cloud, letting you back your brain up to the cloud. You know, in case of a bad hangover one night, you could just restore your brain to the night before. #backsupforlife
Kurzweil has said that as the cloud accessing our brain improves (and before Skynet takes over), our thinking and cognitive abilities would expand quicker than we can imagine. At first, it would be a "hybrid of biological and non-biological thinking", but as we shift into the 2040s, most of our thinking will be done off-brain, and would thus be non-biological. Think, "OK Google, can I afford to buy pizza tonight" or "OK Google, what is 5.2 million divided by 2.39".
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has been vocal about his concerns related to artificial intelligence and robots, saying the "future is scary" and "very bad" for humans.
To make matters even worse, humans have made machines "too important," and it could be possible for robots to learn at a faster rate than humans can program them. Most recently, Wozniak said the human race could end up becoming pets to AI, even if that won't be for a very long time:
"They're going to be smarter than us and if they're smarter than us then they'll realize they need us," Wozniak recently said during the Freescale technology forum. "We want to be the family pet and be taken care of all the time. I got this idea a few years ago and so I started feeding my dog filet steak and chicken every night because 'do unto others,'" Wozniak said.
During the Paris Air Show, a new robot is on display that has a unique purpose: scan faces, verify passports, print boarding passes, and help check-in passengers for flights. The technology already has been deployed to airports across the world, but it looks like this update takes things even further.
The ability to scan to conduct iris scans and capture face images will step up biometric security to hopefully keep passengers safe while flying.
"You would only need one agent for every four or five machines," said Pascal Zenoni, a manager at Thales, speaking during the air show. "These systems can free up staff for the police and create more space in the airport."
Scientists in China were able to train mice in less than one week to be able to sniff out explosives, narcotics, and other items. The mice, trained by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences Kunming Institute of Zoology, said they were able to accurately identify targets 98 percent of the time.
Researchers trained the mice by withholding water resources, and then put a custom sensor in the cage that released water droplets after it was touched. After being moved to a box that offered two different smells, water was given as a reward when they pressed the sensor. It took five days for the mice to learn they would receive a water reward every time they detected the appropriate smell.
It's much cheaper to train and store mice over dogs, and could see widespread use in the future, after additional testing is completed.
People with cardiac devices installed should be vigilant about keeping a safe distance from smartphones, if they want to avoid temporary malfunctions or painful shocks, according to researchers.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and device manufacturers recommend a distance of at least 15 to 20 cm between pacemakers and smartphones. Of course, the study was conducted using mobile devices about 10 years ago, and there has been a mobile network change from GSM to LTE and UMTS - but there is still risk when dialing and connecting to a network, and not while talking on the phone.
People with pacemakers installed can still use a smartphone, but make sure it's not placed "directly over" the cardiac device, according to researchers.
Just developing a robot is no longer enough, as more humans begin to interact with a variety of different models available. Recent breakthroughs allow robots to look more lifelike and provide even more tasks, such as customer service and assistance - but it's no longer enough to just have a robot look like a human.
To help with better human-robot interaction, the robots must be able to convey realistic emotions, particularly using facial expressions. It is rather disconcerting to see a robot that is smiling but its eyes cannot share the same emotion.
It remains a challenge to perfect facial expressions and emotions, so receptionists, store greeters, and other jobs held by humans will likely be safe - for now.
It looks like the United States military wants to find ways to adopt forms of artificial intelligence and robotics. It won't just be for non-combat support operations, as the Navy wants to evaluate possible warfighting scenarios - and is reportedly looking for feedback from advisers.
The Navy is currently looking for realistic methods to deploy artificial intelligence and robotics into its operational support procedures. It seems highly likely future wars will heavily rely on robots and drones as a way to augment human military personnel.
A recent memo acknowledged the private sector is researching AI and robotics to see how private sector advancements can be used to further naval applications.
Screenwriter and director Alex Garland, the mastermind behind Ex-Machina, recently answered questions regarding artificial intelligence. Of particular interest was when Garland spoke regarding sentient and non-sentient technology - sentient is a term used to describe the ability to perceive or feel things.
When asked about the idea that non-sentient technology has the capacity for good or danger, he offered the following thoughts:
"No. It wouldn't be capable of good or evil in that way, because it is not sentient," Garland said during a recent conference call. " And [whether] they have a good or evil aspect [...] would be defined by the humans, the sentient things that are defining it, and controlling it and using it, essentially. [... Our] whole system of right and meaning [...] behind intention and in our action is based on [being] sentient."