There's been a small, but influential, hysteria surrounding the idea is that a huge wave of automation, technology and skills have lead to a massive structural change in the economy since 2010. The implicit argument here is that robots and machines have both made traditional demand-side policies irrelevant or naïve, and been a major driver of wage stagnation and inequality. Though not the most pernicious story that gained prominence as the recovery remained sluggish in 2010 to 2011, it gained an important foothold among elite discussion. That is over.David Autor and Larry Summers tear apart the idea that a Machine Age is responsible for our economic plight.
Tomatan: a wearable robot that feeds you tomatoes as you run.
The Marines Are Building Robotic War Balls
A research team from Stamford, Conn. has developed an amphibious drone that they are currently testing with the Marines. The GuardBot is a robot ball that swims over water at about 4 miles per hour and then rolls along the beach, at as much as a 30-degree incline and 20 miles per hour.
INTERESTING.JPG is an AI trying its hardest to describe the contents of random news photos. Sometimes it does quite well. Sometimes it thinks ice is sheep. See also: Novice Art Blogger. See also, if you're daring: the super duper completely not-safe-for-work porn-analysis robot @NSFW_JPG. Via mefi's own cmyr on Projects.
Full of assumptions, still thought-provoking article about self-driving cars by writer Zach Kanter, How Uber’s Autonomous Cars Will Destroy 10 Million Jobs and Reshape the Economy by 2025. [more inside]
Chinese retiree builds robotic horse. Inspired by an invention of Three Kingdoms-era chancellor Zhuge Liang, Chinese inventor Su Daocheng spent two months building a petrol-powered rideable robotic horse.
'Are we becoming too reliant on computers?' by Nicholas Carr [The Guardian]
Robert Kinoshita, the production designer and art director who created Forbidden Planet's Robby the Robot and Lost In Space's B-9 Environmental Control Robot [previously], has passed away at the age of 100.
"Hebocon is a robot contest for the technically ungifted. Entrants will need compromise and surrender, instead of ideas and technical skill. Robots are penalized for having high-tech features."
The Ecce Robot is an attempt to create a robot that not only mimics human movement and form, but also musculature and body construction. There are more videos at the project's site. [more inside]
Rave-rappers Die Antwoord are starring in Chappie, a movie about robots and consciousness, by Elysium/District 9 director Neill Blomkamp. Sigourney Weaver (Alien), Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) also star. Due out in early 2015. Trailer [slyt].
Will Killer Robots Destroy Humanity? What The Future Of Robots Reveals About The Human Condition. Peter Thiel says 'Robots Are Our Saviours, Not the Enemy,' via. Brad DeLong reponds with The Rise of the Robots. Don't forget your 'Terrifying Robot Update,' especially when robots grow our food. Or maybe we'll get the Robots of Resistance, with human values. New World Order: Labor, Capital, and Ideas in the Power Law Economy. AI, Robotics and the Future of Jobs. [more inside]
Though we're not (yet) to the point of actually implementing any strict laws of robotics, the limits for how much workplace robots can accidentally harm their human co-workers are now being discussed by standards-setting agencies. It's easy enough to say robots and humans cannot work in the same space, but once robots start collaborating with people (aka: COBOTS), large companies look to standards for safety measures and risk assessment. That's where the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (German: Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung, IFA) come in, with BG/BGIA risk assessment recommendations according to machinery directive (36 page PDF), based on real-world tests with robots on human subjects.
Hyperreal numbers: infinities and infinitesimals - "In 1976, Jerome Keisler, a student of the famous logician Tarski, published this elementary textbook that teaches calculus using hyperreal numbers. Now it's free, with a Creative Commons copyright!" (pdf—25mb :) [more inside]
Patrick Lin discusses ethics, responsibility and liability related to safety programming in self-driving cars: Robot Cars With Adjustable Ethics Settings.
Humans Need Not Apply. Video essayist CGP Grey explains why we need to start preparing for a post-human economy.
Remember the floating training remote in Star Wars? Some people have done DIY versions of the remote that can levitate on your desktop. However, leave it to NASA to create the real thing and call it SPHERES: Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites: robotic bowling balls (OK, 18-sided polyhedron satellites) with autonomous propulsion, power, avionics, software, communications, and metrology subsystems, that fly freely in the ISS. First tested in 2006, they have been upgraded with Android smartphones, which makes them (for now) the less terrifying item in Google's growing robotic arsenal.
I come from the future, and I’m here to tell you: transcending the limits of the flesh can be downright dull. [more inside]
The Hanwha Eagles, a much beleaguered South Korean major league baseball team have introduced Fanbots, jersey-clad robots who lead cheers, display messages (and selfies where the robot would otherwise have a blank screen) sent in from fans at home, and generally stand in for fans who aren't there. [more inside]
A robot with a broken leg learns to walk again.
You Were Made for Loneliness is a Twine text adventure by Tsukareta that explores the idea of love in different situations. Since it's release back in June reviews have been overall positive. [more inside]
"Hi, Marc... You seem to think everyone's worried about robots. But what everyone's worried about is you, Marc. Not just you, but people like you. Robots aren't at the levers of financial and political influence today, but folks like you sure are. People are scared of so much wealth and control being in so few hands... Unless we collectively choose to pay for a safety net, technology alone isn't going to make it happen." [more inside]
The two-day Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) graduate showcase at NYU was a madhouse, with some 100 projects on view, ranging from groundbreaking innovations to timely trinkets. But the most talked about project by far was Peiqi Su's "Penis Wall" - an array of 81 robotic phalli that rise and fall in response to the stock market. Official Vimeo account for the project - Thesis presentation - in depth How-it-was-made production blog. (Slightly NSFW if your work doesn't like white, plastic, abstract dicks.)
O Human Star, an ongoing webcomic by Blue Delliquanti, is a near-future science fiction family drama about robots, relationships, identity and finding a place for oneself in the world. [more inside]
"Buy our car, but be aware that it might drive over a cliff rather than hit a car with two people." The Mathematics of Murder: Should a Robot Sacrifice Your Life to Save Two?
Flying Robot Rockstars (SLYT)
SF/F legend Connie Willis pours a preview of a near-future version of the story of backstage back-stabbing, " All About Eve" with "All About Emily" for Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine.
You thought Google buying robot technology was scary? We've discussed here the unease brought on by Google's purchase of Boston Dynamics, the maker of "terrifying robots", and recently the prediction of robots rising by Google's Director of Engineering, but it turns out that Google may not be the problem. Truly terrifying robots are already here and could show up in your home if you happen to have mounds of disposable cash and no sense of boundaries. No this isn't April 1, yes this is legit.
"I want to make fictional worlds, inhabited by large robots and machines, all over the Google campus" Google has recently shown a great deal of interest in robots, snapping up companies right and left. Mark Pauline, a noted expert in the field, offers his services to the search behemoth.
In mid-2013, Zima Japan unveiled Z-Machines, a "social party robot band" featuring a 22-armed drummer, and a guitarist with 78 fingers. While Z-Machines was initially seen by many as a nightmarish reincarnation of the Chuck E. Cheese Band, the Japanese developers have since collaborated with other musicians, and now Warp Records is announcing an upcoming collaboration EP: Squarepusher x Z-Machines - Music For Robots to be released in April. [more inside]
What Jobs Will The Robots Take? Eight Ways Robots Stole Our Jobs In 2013. Who is next? Soldiers? Rescue teams? Managers? Astronauts? [more inside]
Friendly Robots of the Soviet Union: Even robots like to drink in Soviet Russia: a babushka hands this futuristic-looking robot from Kaliningrad what looks to be a pint of beer in 1969.
The collaborative wiki-as-fiction site, Secure Contain Protect (previously), held a contest to determine which entry will get the coveted SCP - 2000 spot. The theme? Science Fiction. Read the winning entry here, and the rest of the alien-spaceship-crashing-memetic-virus-watching-living-TV-show-spreading contestants here.
In 2010, Judea Pearl was honored with a symposium on his work. He gave a talk on how to use causal models to evaluate counterfactuals. (He takes the first 14 minutes to thank people and reflect on his intellectual debts. Skip it if you really want to get to the meat of the talk, but it is well worth watching.) [more inside]
Big Dog. Wild Cat. Cheetah. Petman. Atlas. Google acquires Boston Dynamics, notable maker of terrifying robots. [more inside]
Worried about robots? You should be. Artificial intelligence superior to our own is, by some estimates, only thirty years away. What could possibly go wrong? The answer: everything.
Robot scientists! A Pretty cool video about research automation from the Wall Street Journal. [slyt]
The robots are here. George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen predicts that the trend towards automation will squeeze the middle class further still, and compares its effects on American politics to a too-overlooked 1955 short story by Isaac Asimov.
Brad DeLong, recently installed at Equitablog, lays out a future (wonkish) where the returns to capital keep increasing relative to labor: "What do we people do to add value? Eight things... [more inside]
Researchers at MIT have created M-Bots, small cubes with internal flywheels that use angular momentum to move and magnets to help them stay aligned, as demonstrated in a video. At this point, the robots are not strictly autonomous; rather they are controlled by commands sent by radio.
Fish Fear Robotic Predators, Unless They're Drunk. Scientists swear they had a really good reason for building a robotic fish, getting some other fish drunk, and then chasing them around with it. The robotic bird head, too. Direct link to research: A Robotics-Based Behavioral Paradigm to Measure Anxiety-Related Responses in Zebrafish.
Occasionally, an artist will paint something, but neglect to include monkeys and/or robots. When he can, John Lytle Wilson fixes that. In addition to correcting the paintings of others, Mr. Wilson also paints original pieces. Most of which include monkeys and/or robots. And unicorns. There are some unicorns in there too.
Our Science Fiction Movies Hate Science Fiction. An intelligent discourse from The Awl about the state of modern science fiction movies. [more inside]
No. 16 makes the quadruple backflip look easy (YouTube), but robotic gymnastics don't always go so well (YT). [more inside]
ENRG and the Electrobots perform a scene and sing a song in the pilot episode of Steve Gadlin's Star Makers.