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Businesses

5 White Collar Jobs Robots Already Have Taken 226

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-for-one-welcome-our-new-robot-coworkers dept.
bizwriter writes University of Oxford researchers Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne estimated in 2013 that 47 percent of total U.S. jobs could be automated and taken over by computers by 2033. That now includes occupations once thought safe from automation, AI, and robotics. Such positions as journalists, lawyers, doctors, marketers, and financial analysts are already being invaded by our robot overlords. From the article: "Some experts say not to worry because technology has always created new jobs while eliminating old ones, displacing but not replacing workers. But lately, as technology has become more sophisticated, the drumbeat of worry has intensified. 'What's different now?' asked Leigh Watson Healy, chief analyst at market research firm Outsell. 'The pace of technology advancements plus the big data phenomenon lead to a whole new level of machines to perform higher level cognitive tasks.' Translated: the old formula of creating more demanding jobs that need advanced training may no longer hold true. The number of people needed to oversee the machines, and to create them, is limited. Where do the many whose occupations have become obsolete go?"
Robotics

Should a Service Robot Bring an Alcoholic a Drink? 156

Posted by Soulskill
from the skynet-will-feed-you-booze-until-you-pass-out dept.
An anonymous reader writes: We've come to a point where care robots are being used to assist people with illnesses and mobility problems. They can bring medicine, a glass of water, food, and other items that a person may have trouble getting to on their own. But what limits should we set on these robots? Should they be able to deliver alcoholic beverages? If so, should they refuse to serve them to certain people, like children or alcoholics? The issue is complicated further because these robots may have been purchased by the patient, by the doctor or hospital (which sent it home with the patient to monitor their health), or by a concerned family member who wants to monitor their relative. The latest poll research by the Open Roboethics Initiative looked at people's attitudes about whether a care robot should prioritize its owner's wishes over those of the patient.
Robotics

Only Twice Have Nations Banned a Weapon Before It Was Used; They May Do It Again 318

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-skynet-cares-about-international-treaties dept.
Lasrick writes: Seth Baum reports on international efforts to ban 'killer robots' before they are used. China, Israel, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States are apparently developing precursor technology. "Fully autonomous weapons are not unambiguously bad. They can reduce burdens on soldiers. Already, military robots are saving many service members' lives, for example by neutralizing improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan and Iraq. The more capabilities military robots have, the more they can keep soldiers from harm. They may also be able to complete missions that soldiers and non-autonomous weapons cannot." But Baum, who founded the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute, goes on to outline the potential downsides, and there are quite a few.
AI

The Robots That Will Put Coders Out of Work 264

Posted by timothy
from the uber-drivers-will-be-replaced-by-robots-oh-wait dept.
snydeq writes Researchers warn that a glut of code is coming that will depress wages and turn coders into Uber drivers, InfoWorld reports. "The researchers — Boston University's Seth Benzell, Laurence Kotlikoff, and Guillermo LaGarda, and Columbia University's Jeffrey Sachs — aren't predicting some silly, Terminator-like robot apocalypse. What they are saying is that our economy is entering a new type of boom-and-bust cycle that accelerates the production of new products and new code so rapidly that supply outstrips demand. The solution to that shortage will be to figure out how not to need those hard-to-find human experts. In fact, it's already happening in some areas."
Transportation

Delivery Drones: More Feasible If They Come By Truck 129

Posted by timothy
from the last-mile-problem dept.
malachiorion writes Amazon's drone delivery service was never going to work. It was too autonomous, and simply too risky to be approved by the FAA in the timeframe that Jeff Bezos specified (as early as this year). And yet, the media is still hung up on Amazon, and much of the coverage of the FAA's newly released drone rules center around Prime Air, a program that was essentially a PR stunt. Meanwhile, a Cincinnati-based company that makes electric delivery trucks has an idea that's been largely ignored, but that's much more feasible. The Horsefly launches from and returns to a delivery truck once it reaches a given neighborhood, with a mix of autonomous flight to destination, driver-specified drop-off locations, and remote-piloted landings. The company will still need to secure exemptions from the FAA, but unlike Amazon, they at least have a chance. There's more detail about Amp's technically impressive (and seemingly damn tough) drone in my story for Popular Science.
Robotics

What To Do After Robots Take Your Job 389

Posted by timothy
from the have-them-train-you dept.
sarahnaomi writes In 2013, researchers Carl Frey and Michael Osborne of the Oxford Martin School dropped the bombshell that 47 percent of US jobs were at risk of computerisation. Since then, they've made similar predictions for the UK, where they say 35 percent of jobs are at high risk. So what will our future economy look like? "My predictions have enormously high variance," Osborne told me when I asked if he was optimistic. "I can imagine completely plausible, incredibly positive scenarios, but they're only about as probable as actually quite dystopian futures that I can imagine."

In a new report produced as part of a programme supported by Citi, he and Frey outline how increased innovation—read: automation—could lead to stagnation.
Robotics

Drone, Drone, Everywhere a Drone -- at CES (Video) 37

Posted by Roblimo
from the it's-not-superman-and-it's-not-an-airplane-so-it-must-be-a-drone dept.
One thing Timothy noticed at CES was that there were drone vendors all over the place. Drones are obviously one of the hot-hot toy/gadget trends of the moment. The Drone that won 'Best Robot or Drone in Show' was the camera-carrying, "follows you like a dog on a (Bluetooth 3) leash" AirDog. They already had a crazy-sucessful KickStarter campaign that led to a large stack of pre-orders, so don't count on getting your very own AirDog right away, even if you have $1300 to spend on one.
Robotics

Boston Dynamics Introduces Their Newest Four-Legged Robot, 'Spot' 63

Posted by Soulskill
from the adorable-ways-to-kill-all-humans dept.
MicroHex writes: Boston Dynamics, creators of "Big Dog" recently unveiled their newest creation, "Spot." Originally funded by DARPA to develop the technology behind Big Dog, Boston Dynamics is currently owned by Google and continues its robotics research. From the video: "Spot is a four-legged robot designed for indoor and outdoor operation. It is electrically powered and hydraulically actuated. Spot has a sensor head that helps it navigate and negotiate rough terrain. Spot weighs about 160 lbs."
AI

Replacing the Turing Test 129

Posted by timothy
from the thinking-is-hard-to-pin-down dept.
mikejuk writes A plan is afoot to replace the Turing test as a measure of a computer's ability to think. The idea is for an annual or bi-annual Turing Championship consisting of three to five different challenging tasks. A recent workshop at the 2015 AAAI Conference of Artificial Intelligence was chaired by Gary Marcus, a professor of psychology at New York University. His opinion is that the Turing Test had reached its expiry date and has become "an exercise in deception and evasion." Marcus points out: the real value of the Turing Test comes from the sense of competition it sparks amongst programmers and engineers which has motivated the new initiative for a multi-task competition. The one of the tasks is based on Winograd Schemas. This requires participants to grasp the meaning of sentences that are easy for humans to understand through their knowledge of the world. One simple example is: "The trophy would not fit in the brown suitcase because it was too big. What was too big?" Another suggestion is for the program to answer questions about a TV program: No existing program — not Watson, not Goostman, not Siri — can currently come close to doing what any bright, real teenager can do: watch an episode of "The Simpsons," and tell us when to laugh. Another is called the "Ikea" challenge and asks for robots to co-operate with humans to build flat-pack furniture. This involves interpreting written instructions, choosing the right piece, and holding it in just the right position for a human teammate. This at least is a useful skill that might encourage us to welcome machines into our homes.
Robotics

Students Demo Firefighting Humanoid Robot On US Navy Ship 55

Posted by Soulskill
from the terminating-fires dept.
An anonymous reader sends this report from Robohub: In fall 2014 in Mobile Bay, Alabama, Virginia Tech engineering students made history during a five-minute demo that placed an adult-sized humanoid robot with a hose in front of a live fire aboard a U.S. Navy ship.The robot located the fire and sprayed water from the hose. Water blasted the flames. The demo, four years in the making, is part of a new effort by the U.S. Navy to better assist sailors in fighting fires, controlling damage, and carrying out inspections aboard ships via user-controlled unmanned craft or humanoid robots. The firefighting robot is named SAFFiR, short for Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot, and the U.S. Office of Naval Research envisions a future — long off, but tangible — in which every ship has a robot as a tool for firefighters.
Youtube

DARPA-Funded Robots Learning To Cook By Watching YouTube Videos 88

Posted by samzenpus
from the perfect-meal dept.
jfruh writes Once you've built humanoid-shaped robots, how do you get them to move and act like humans? Well, one way to teach them how to do it is to have them watch one of the greatest repository of recorded human experience ever: YouTube. Robots in a Maryland lab have learned how to prepare meals by watching and processing a slew of cooking videos, one of YouTube's most popular genres.
Books

R.U. Sirius Co-Authors New Book On Transhumanism 76

Posted by timothy
from the r-u-goffman-doesn't-have-the-same-ring dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I've never been able to work up a fear of the robot apocalypse," admits R.U. Sirius, who more than 20 years after Mondo 2000's original guide to geek culture has again collaborated on a new encyclopedia of emerging technologies. As we progress to a world where technology actually becomes invisible, he argues that "everything about how we will define the future is still in play," suggesting that the transhumanist movement is "a good way to take isolated radical tech developments and bundle them together". While his co-author argues transhumanists "like to solve everything," Sirius points out a much bigger concern is a future of technologies dominated by the government or big capital.
Mars

NASA Considers Autonomous Martian Helicopter To Augment Future Rovers 83

Posted by timothy
from the imperial-probe-droid dept.
SternisheFan (2529412) writes with this story at the Verge about an approach being considered by NASA to overcome some of the difficulties in moving a wheeled or multi-legged ground vehicle around the surface of Mars, which has proven to be a difficult task. Rover teams still have a tough time with the Martian surface even though they're flush with terrestrial data. The alien surface is uneven, and ridges and valleys make navigating the terrain difficult. The newest solution proposed by JPL is the Mars Helicopter, an autonomous drone that could 'triple the distances that Mars rovers can drive in a Martian day,' according to NASA. The helicopter would fly ahead of a rover when its view is blocked and send Earth-bound engineers the right data to plan the rover's route.
Space

Europe and China Will Team Up For a Robotic Space Mission 39

Posted by timothy
from the actually-the-robots-are-pulling-the-strings dept.
Taco Cowboy writes with this excerpt from Space.com: On Monday (Jan. 19), the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the European Space Agency (ESA) issued a call for proposals for a robotic space mission that the two organizations will develop jointly. "The goal of the present Call is to define a scientific space mission to be implemented by ESA and CAS as a cooperative endeavor between the European and Chinese scientific communities," ESA officials wrote in a statement Monday. "The mission selected as an outcome of the present Joint Call will follow a collaborative approach through all the phases: study, definition, implementation, operations and scientific exploitation." The call envisions a low-budget mission, saying that ESA and CAS are each prepared to contribute about 53 million euros (U.S. $61.5 million at current exchange rates). The spacecraft must weigh less than 661 lbs. (300 kilograms) at launch and be designed to operate for at least two to three years, ESA officials wrote in the call for proposals. All proposals are due by March 16, and the peer-review process will start in April. Mission selection is expected to occur in late 2015, followed by six years of development, with a launch in 2021.
Robotics

DALER: a Bio-Inspired Robot That Can Both Fly and Walk 14

Posted by timothy
from the sounds-like-the-perfect-babysitting-tool dept.
An anonymous reader writes The issue of how to use one robot across multiple terrains is an ongoing question in robotics research. In a paper published in Bioinspiration and Biomimetics today, a team from LIS, EPFL and NCCR Robotics propose a new kind of flying robot that can also walk. Called the DALER (Deployable Air-Land Exploration Robot), the robot uses adaptive morphology inspired by the common vampire bat, Desmodus rotundus, meaning that the wings have been actuated using a foldable skeleton mechanism covered with a soft fabric so that they can be used both as wings and as legs (whegs).
Medicine

Microbots Deliver Medical Payload In Living Creature For the First Time 41

Posted by Soulskill
from the unless-you-count-star-trek dept.
Zothecula writes: Researchers working at the University of California, San Diego have claimed a world first in proving that artificial, microscopic machines can travel inside a living creature and deliver their medicinal load without any detrimental effects. Using micro-motor powered robots propelled by gas bubbles made from a reaction with the contents of the stomach in which they were deposited, these miniature machines have been successfully deployed in the body of a live mouse.
Robotics

DARPA Wants Atlas Robot To Go Wireless 19

Posted by Soulskill
from the need-mobility-to-kill-all-humans dept.
mikejuk writes: Atlas is a humanoid robot, one of the most advanced in the world. But it's always had cables that provided it with power and made it look a little like a dog on a leash. It was designed to provide a hardware platform for teams competing in the DARPA Robotics Challenge — a competition designed to encourage the construction of an effective disaster response robot. DARPA now says the finals of the challenge later in the year will require that the robots be completely wireless.

Power will be supplied by an onboard 3.7 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. That battery will drive a variable-pressure pump which operates all of the hydraulic systems. The pump makes ATLAS much quieter, but introduces a complication for the teams: it can be run at low pressure to save power and then switched to high pressure to get harder work done. Managing power consumption will be a very difficult task, but DARPA has also upped the prize money to $3.5 million in total.
Input Devices

Nintendo Power Glove Used To Create 'Robot Chicken' 40

Posted by timothy
from the show-not-animatronic-poultry dept.
dotarray (1747900) writes "Despite its glorious introduction in The Wizard, the Nintendo Power Glove was, from all accounts, a bit of a failure. However, Dillon Markey has given the doomed peripheral a new lease of life — it's a crucial part of making stop-motion animation for Robot Chicken." The linked article doesn't have many more words, but the video it features is worthwhile to see how Markey has modified the glove to make the tedious work of stop-motion a little bit less tedious.
Mars

Lost Beagle2 Probe Found 'Intact' On Mars 130

Posted by Soulskill
from the so-close-and-yet-so-far dept.
New submitter Stolga sends this report from the BBC: The missing Mars robot Beagle2 has been found on the surface of the Red Planet, apparently intact. High-resolution images taken from orbit have identified its landing location, and it looks to be in one piece. The UK-led probe tried to make a soft touchdown on the dusty world on Christmas Day, 2003, using parachutes and airbags — but no radio contact was ever made with the probe. Many scientists assumed it had been destroyed in a high-velocity impact.

The new pictures, acquired by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, give the lie to that notion, and hint at what really happened to the European mission. Beagle's design incorporated a series of deployable "petals," on which were mounted its solar panels. From the images, it seems that this system did not unfurl fully. "Without full deployment, there is no way we could have communicated with it as the radio frequency antenna was under the solar panels," explained Prof Mark Sims, Beagle's mission manager from Leicester University.
Classic Games (Games)

Researchers "Solve" Texas Hold'Em, Create Perfect Robotic Player 340

Posted by samzenpus
from the I'll-raise-you-infinity dept.
Jason Koebler writes The best limit Texas Hold'Em poker player in the world is a robot. Given enough hands, it will never, ever lose, regardless of what its opponent does or which cards it is dealt. Researchers at the University of Alberta essentially "brute forced" the game of limit poker, in which there are roughly 3 x 10^14 possible decisions. Cepheus runs through a massive table of all of these possible permutations of the game—the table itself is 11 terabytes of data—and decides what the best move is, regardless of opponent.