All of a sudden, we looked up, and they were there. What if the explanation to the past half-decade --- or maybe the past decade and a half --- of the world’s economic malaise can be explained in one word: Robots. Maybe, in other words, the reason that corporate profits are higher than ever and yet jobs aren’t being created is because we have built machines to take those jobs. Paul Krugman thinks it’s possible.
If this is the wave of the future, it makes nonsense of just about all the conventional wisdom on reducing inequality. Better education won’t do much to reduce inequality if the big rewards simply go to those with the most assets....I think our eyes have been averted from the capital/labor dimension of inequality, for several reasons...But I think we’d better start paying attention to those implications.So does Kevin Drum:
Here's what I mean. It's quite possible that, say, 50 years from now the production of nearly all goods and services will be automated. And this might usher in a golden age...But what happens while we're busy getting there? Answer: the owners of capital will automate more and more, putting more and more people out of work...The rest of us will have no jobs, and even with all this lovely automation, our government-supplied welfare checks will be meager enough that our lives will be miserable.And 60 minutes. And so does the Financial Time’s Izabella Kaminska, who’s been writing a series of posts on the influential FT Alphaville blog for more than nine months on the influence of robots on the economy and whether or not an economy can handle no scarcity. FT Alphaville requires registration, but fortunately Kaminska has collected links from across the world of economics and journalism as people attempt to hammer out this problem. [more inside]
The long awaited robots vs. monsters epic from Guillermo del Toro sees the release of its first trailer: Pacific Rim. [more inside]
A report was recently released suggesting a pre-emptive ban on fully autonomous weapons - robots that can pick and choose whom to fire on. If this sounds vaguely alarming to you, don't worry - the Department of Defense issued a directive indicating that fully automous robots may only decide to tase you.
At Cambridge University, the Project for Existential Risk is considering threats to humankind caused by developing technologies. It will be developing a prospectus for the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, to be launched by the Astronomer Royal, a co-founder of Skype and the Bertrand Russell professor of philosophy. More detail from the university, while the news excites some journalists. [more inside]
MR-808 is a replica of the famous 1980s electronic drum machine TR-808 – with robots playing the drum sounds.
The universe (which others call The Twitter) is composed of every word in the English language; Shakespeare's folios, line-by-line-by-line; the Exegesis of Philip K. Dick, exploded; Constantine XI, in 140 character chunks; Sun Tzu's Art of War, in its entirety; the chapter headings of JG Ballard, in abundance; and definitive discographies of Every. Artist. Ever... All this, I repeat, is true, but one hundred forty characters of inalterable wwwtext cannot correspond to any language, no matter how dialectical or rudimentary it may be. [more inside]
Robots at Work and Play (a photo gallery from the Atlantic).
Terrorism as art: Mark Pauline's dangerous machines. Robots, rebellion, and the post-apocalyptic performance art of Survival Research Labs.
Television Without Pity re-capper Jacob Clifton has written a short steampunk story for Tor.com. “There’s a level on which the story is an indictment of using steampunk as a fashion or trend. It came about because I wanted to see what would happen if you substituted Jane Austen for Jules Verne in the steampunk equation...” The Commonplace Book
The Popinator - a voice activated popcorn launching machine. Kinda cool, but my money's still on the robotic tweet powered popper. (via @peeweeherman and keepoutofreach)
Trade-offs between inequality, productivity, and employment - "The poor do not employ one another, because the necessities they require are produced and sold so cheaply by the rich. The rich are glad to sell to the poor, as long as the poor can come up with property or debt claims or other forms of insurance to offer as payment..." [more inside]
"What does it mean to feel empathy for a twitter feed?" Many were asking themselves that yesterday as popular account @SelfAwareROOMBA went on a journey of Self-Discovery. [Start Here] [more inside]
The Giant Robot Invasion has begun! You were warned this was coming and given tips to survive. But one tip you didn't get - don't go near the bench!
A team of Georgia Inst of Technology engineers has published a study of the rolling action of Mexican jumping beans. "The researchers developed an algorithm of the beans’ behavior, which they then used to program rolling robots to move in a controlled direction." Abstract here. Interesting video of bean races included.
In 1999, 23-year-old singer-songwriter Bree Sharp recorded "David Duchovny," a fangirl ode to the male star of The X-Files. After the demo tape proved popular in Duchovny's trailer, two X-Files assistants created a celebrity-filled music video as a gag for the show Christmas party. A grainy bootleg of the video quickly went pre-Youtube-viral among X-Philes. Twelve years later, a high-definition version of the "David Duchovny" video sees daylight for the first time. [more inside]
How To Survive A Robot Uprising. [slyt]
MIT is leading an NSF-funded project with researchers from University of Pennsylvania and Harvard that aims to enable anyone to "design, customize and print a specialized robot in a matter of hours." Constructed from "cyber-physical primitives," the robots (some early examples here) would be able to be made in bulk on demand and could help change the entire workflow of device and robot creation, from engineering to warehousing to assembly.
Boston Dynamics is getting close to mastering quadrupedal motion with Big Dog and Cheetah (previously). And are working on bipedal motion with Petman (previously), but how about a robot that is able to leap (up to the top of) tall buildings in a single bound? Sand Flea! [more inside]
The Story of Animation is a tongue-in-cheek educational film about the process of animation, aimed primarily at potential animation clients who are more clueless than most about how these toons get made (and how long it's gonna take and how much it's gonna cost). Made by-and-for graduates of the The Animation Workshop, an animation school in Viborg, Denmark, which has posted A LOT of impressive student works on YouTube... [more inside]
No Robots: An engaging animated short about prejudice in a future in which robots have been banned.
In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war.... and mega cities and future cops and cyborgs and deathgames and time-travelling dinosaur hunters and mutant bounty hunters and....
British sf tabletop miniature wargame Warhammer 40,000 is 25 years old today, British sf anthology comic 2000AD is 35 years old tomorrow [more inside]
After the release of The Jazz Singer in 1927, all bets were off for live musicians who played in movie theaters. Thanks to synchronized sound, the use of live musicians was unnecessary — and perhaps a larger sin, old-fashioned. In 1930 the American Federation of Musicians formed a new organization called the Music Defense League and launched a scathing ad campaign to fight the advance of this terrible menace known as recorded sound.
The evil face of that campaign was the dastardly, maniacal robot.
The evil face of that campaign was the dastardly, maniacal robot.
How do robots see the world? This is an experiment in found machine-vision footage, exploring the aesthetics of the robot eye. [SLVimeo]
"Uh Oh. Construction workers please note: Somebody just built a 20-foot tower using flying robots. No people involved." Eric Guizo notes: "The ceiling of the room where the assembly is taking place was equipped with a motion-capture system. A computer uses the vision data to keep track of the quadcopters and tell them where to go — the same approach used at ETH's Flying Machine Arena"
A spherical flying robot has been developed at the Japanese Ministry of Self-Defense; it can zoom along indoors and outdoors at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, or just hover. Menacingly. Science Fiction In The News is a subsection of science-fiction site Technovelgy, which tracks both the predictions of future tech made in science fiction past and present and its manifestations in real life. What tech, you ask? Well, if it’s appeared in your nightmares, it’s probably been on this page: [more inside]
Mobile Suit Gundam premiered on April 7th, 1979 in Nagoya, Japan, and with it came the now three-decade-old franchise that launched a thousand plastic model kits. WARNING: MAY CONTAIN spoilers for a thirty-year-old beloved cultural touchstone that you've likely never seen or possibly even heard of. WARNING: DEFINITELY CONTAINS many, many links to TV Tropes. 28.8k USERS: Upgrade to 56K already. You're going to need it. [more inside]
Make Magazine has released its Ultimate Kit Guide which rates 175 DIY kits. Kits like the: 6-in-1 Solar Robot Kit, the Infrared Jammer Kit, the KaraKuri Somersault Doll kit, the Loud Objects Noise Toy Kit. But best of all you will find the astounding MakerBot Thing-O-Matic 3D printer. "The Thing-O-Matic is a breakthrough in 3D printing technology. The Thing-O-Matic prints thing after thing, it's completely automated! You hit print and the machine does all the work. Want to print 100 butterflies? Easy. Want to print an entire chess set? No problem. Buy it, assemble it, and enjoy being the first on your block to live in the cutting-edge personal manufacturing future of tomorrow!" [more inside]
Ketchupbot v. picnic food. Ketchupbot, aka Automato, and the Catsup Crapper have been around since 2007, the invention of a trio of MIT students. Automato outtakes. Automato teaches its art to a smaller sibling. Catsup Crapper meets Martha Stewart.
Soft robotics are inspired by animals which don't have hard internal skeletons, like squid, worms, and starfish. Developed at Harvard, with funding from DARPA, this particular soft robot, "not only walks, it knows several different gaits and can deflate to stuff itself through tiny little gaps." Another design here, and another (also), and another. In addition to movement, soft robotics can also be used for grip. More information about the Harvard lab is available here (with a student describing the research here).
Honda demonstrates the newest version of their Asimo robot. "With a further advance in autonomy, the all-new ASIMO can now continue moving without being controlled by an operator. Moreover, with significantly improved intelligence and the physical ability to adapt to situations, ASIMO took another step closer to practical use in an office or a public space where many people come and go."
Oh hi! You're here just in time for a trifecta of things we love: Cute little robots, fixed gear bicycles, and single-link YouTube posts! I hope you like it!
Do Androids Dream of Electric Authors? [NYTimes.com] "So who was Lambert M. Surhone? Just looking at the numbers, you could argue that he’s one of the most prolific creators of literature who ever lived. But was he even human? There are now software programs — robots, if you will — that can gather text and organize it into a book. Surhone might be one of them."
Fukushima Robot Operator Writes Tell-All Blog. "An anonymous worker at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant has written dozens of blog posts describing his experience as a lead robot operator at the crippled facility." [Via]
Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life finished today. Promises of new projects and a print version by December have been made. [more inside]