This week – Sweden is not afraid of robots; brain implants; CIA’s robotic dragonfly; predictions for 2018 and 2050; and more!
More than a human
You might hear about transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), also known as zapping your brain to improve mental capabilities. Different journal articles have suggested improvements in cognition, learning, and/or the potential treatment of various diseases. Some people built their own tDCS devices to zap their brains and there are companies offering such devices. The science behind tDCS was inconsistent, but a recent study (which looks like did everything as it should be) found that there is something behind tDCS.
Brain implants that deliver electrical pulses tuned to a person’s feelings and behaviour are being tested in people for the first time. Two teams funded by DARPA have begun preliminary trials of ‘closed-loop’ brain implants that use algorithms to detect patterns associated with mood disorders. The work could eventually provide a way to treat severe mental illnesses that resist current therapies. It also raises thorny ethical concerns, not least because the technique could give researchers a degree of access to a person’s inner feelings in real time.
A bionic hand that can “feel” and send the sense of touch to the patient’s brain is not something new. What’s new is that this hand can be used outside the laboratory. Previously, the sensory equipment was so big that using the hand outside of the lab was not possible. Now the technology is small enough to fit in a rucksack, making it portable. The recipient, Almerina Mascarello, who lost her left hand in an accident nearly a quarter of a century ago, said “it’s almost like it’s back again”.
For robots to play a more involved role in our lives, such as personal caregivers or reliable home cooks and chefs, they will have to move away from following the simple rule-based operating procedures used by current robots. They need to learn to improvise, to thrive in an unpredictable world.
The great question of AI becoming conscious. This article does not answer it but it does a good job quickly explaining main definitions of consciousness and how they apply to AI.
Isaac Arthur as always gives us a great quality lecture. In this video, Isaac looks at our fear that machines would rebel against humanity and see which ones might be valid and which might not be cause for alarm.
Here are 10 interesting predictions for deep learning and AI research in general by Carlos E. Perez.
Everyone freak out about robots taking jobs away from humans. But not in Sweden. Eighty percent of Swedes express positive views about robots and artificial intelligence, according to a survey this year by the European Commission. By contrast, a survey by the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of Americans were “worried” about a future in which robots and computers substitute for humans.
“When you ask a person what they would like a robot to do, the thing that they would like more than anyone else, is clean up the dishes in the kitchen. That turns out to be an extraordinarily difficult problem,” said Alphabet Chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt.
From Data Detective to Personal Data Broker to Virtual Store Sherpa. One of them can be your future job thanks to robots.
Meet SKYF drone – a massive drone made by a private Russian company. Powered by a gasoline engine, it can lift around 180kg and fly for eight hours.
Motivated to develop a bio-inspired AUV, researchers developed MantaDroid, which resembles a juvenile manta ray. The robot measures 35cm in length and 63cm in width, weighs just 0.7kg, swims at the speed of twice its body length per second and can operate for up to 10 hours and could potentially be employed for underwater surveillance in future.
Will robots be bodies with brains or brains with bodies? The authors of the paper discussing this question predict that doing away with the prevailing dichotomy of “brain versus body” could lay the foundations for the emergence of “robots with brains in their bodies—the foundation of inexpensive and ubiquitous robots that will step into the real world.”
Rodney Brooks gives his dated predictions about self-driving cars, AI and space travel in his essay. Brooks made his predictions as a realist who understands the issues of implementing a new technology on a scale.
Here’s a bit of robotics history. Insectothopter is a CIA attempt to build a robotic dragonfly. It was built in the 1970’s and had 6 centimetre-long body and 9cm wingspan, but the 1-gram spy craft couldn’t withstand a gentle breeze. Insectothopter is on display now in CIA Museum.
Gene editing could one day help people at risk of losing their hearing due to genetic mutations, according to new research. The test results on rodents are promising.