Robots


Consumer robots are dead; long live Alexa

USATODAY

It wasn't so long ago that consumer robots were destined to be the next big thing. But, that optimism hasn't translated into consumer sales. The result: Jibo was sold for parts. It was one of the first social robots. The founder, MIT roboticist Cynthia Brezeal, was a favorite of tech media.


Robot featured at Russian event is actually a man in a suit

USATODAY

A "high-tech robot" praised on Russian TV was actually a man in wearing a costume. No one said the "most modern robot" at a Russian technology event was a real robot, but it appears no one said it wasn't either. So, some journalists covering the state-sponsored event for children had a lot of questions when Robot Boris appeared on stage talking and dancing. He also could answer math equations. Coverage on Russian state TV praised the "hi-tech robot" at the annual Proyektoria technology forum, The Guardian reports, even praising its intelligent dance moves.


Opinion The Robots Have Descended on Trump Country

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Donald Trump's $1.5 trillion tax cut has increased incentives to replace workers with robots, contradicting his campaign promise to restore well-paying manufacturing jobs in the nation's heartland. The Trump tax bill permits "U.S. corporations to expense their capital investment, through 2022. So, if a U.S. corporation buys a robot for $100 thousand, it can deduct the $100 thousand immediately to calculate its U.S. taxable income, rather than recover the $100 thousand over the life of the robot, as under prior law," Steven M. Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and a specialist in tax policy, wrote me by email. I have addressed the impact of robotics on Trump voters in previous columns, but today I want to explore these developments in greater detail as tools to gather and analyze information have improved. One of the most striking developments in recent decades is the ongoing decline in work force participation among men, from 88.7 percent in July, 1947 to 68.7 percent in September, 2010, according to the Federal Reserve.


Robot lawyers trigger ethical concerns

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Allocating repetitive and low-grade work to robots will allow solicitors to focus on more complicated tasks, the profession's regulator claimed yesterday. In a bid to calm nerves over the growing use of artificial intelligence in the legal profession, the Solicitors Regulation Authority said that robots would help lawyers deal with increased competition in the legal services market from non-traditional providers. However, it warned that there were serious ethical issues around the use of artificial intelligence by lawyers. The authority, which regulates 140,000 practising solicitors in England and Wales, said that law firms must "be able to explain the assumptions and reasoning behind some automated decisions". That would not necessarily be easy, it said.


December 2018: 11 Professors Prophecies for AI and IoT

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Ronald Arkin has played key leadership roles in making technology more human--and humane. He has helped develop innovations such as multi-robot teams, human-robot interaction, hybrid robot software architectures, and more recently, robot ethics. His research incorporates ethical reasoning into the context of military and healthcare applications for autonomous robots. Arkin's goal: To keep top-of-mind and to mentor others about the care and thoughtfulness needed in discussing law, policies, and regulation governing and managing artificial intelligence. Toward that end, he works to ensure that his graduate students and the junior faculty understand not only the technical issues but also the socio-political landscape involved in the increasingly pervasive ways that advanced technology affects people's lives.


NASA's InSight lander proves it's on Mars with a selfie

Engadget

Next time you can't find the perfect angle for your selfie, just thank the universe you're not NASA's InSight lander. The spacecraft had to take 11 images with a camera attached to its robotic arm and then stitch them together to create its first self-portrait. InSight clearly took a cue from the Curiosity rover, which has years of experience taking composite selfies with the Martian landscape as its background. You can clearly see InSight's solar panels on full display in the photo, which was captured on December 6th, along with some of its science instruments. InSight touched down on Mars on November 26th after traveling through space for six months.


Postmates unveils its adorable autonomous delivery robot

Engadget

Postmates has revealed a cute autonomous delivery robot called Serve, which seems to take a design cue or two from Wall-E, with its big eyes and yellow finish. While the company has tested third-party autonomous delivery options in the past, it decided to build Serve from the ground up. When Serve shows up at your front door or office, you'll use your phone or a code to unlock the compartment and retrieve your items. The robot can carry up to 50 pounds of goods and can travel up to 30 miles on a single charge. Postmates also plans to collect items with Serve (especially in busy areas) and return them to its delivery hubs so delivery drivers can bring them to you.


Robotic rat friends

Science

Robots are becoming increasingly prevalent throughout society. Surprisingly perhaps, humans can feel a sense of altruism and empathy with robots that have human or animal traits. Such responses raise questions about how robots might affect social interactions. Quinn et al. show that rats, a highly social species that displays several types of reciprocity and empathy, will help small robots "escape" from a cage. Help is even more prompt for those robots that show rat-like social and helping behaviors.


Lyft patents tech that shows safety warnings on self-driving cars' windshields to prevent accidents

Daily Mail

Soon, Lyft's self-driving cars could warn pedestrians and cyclists when they're about to cross the street. The ride-hailing giant filed a patent for technology that would display on-screen warnings and other information to other cars, pedestrians and bicycles that it shares the road with. The patent, which was filed April 23rd but made public on Tuesday, describes what Lyft refers to as an autonomous vehicle system. By creating a way for autonomous cars to communicate with others in their environment, it could lead to improved safety once the technology becomes more common in the future. 'Traditionally transportation and related services have been provided by a human-operated vehicle,' the patent states.


Fears about the spread of AI are 'very legitimate,' Google CEO Sundar Pichai says

Daily Mail

Count Google CEO Sundar Pichai as one of artificial intelligence's skeptics. The Google boss acknowledged that concerns about the potential for AI to be misused are'very legitimate' but that the tech industry is up to the challenge of regulating itself. Pichai made the comments in a new interview with The Washington Post, where he touched on the implications of artificial intelligence. Google CEO Sundar Pichai (pictured) said concerns about the potential for AI to be misused are'very legitimate' but that the tech industry is up to the challenge of regulating itself While many tech leaders push that AI will become invaluable to humanity, others argue it poses a threat to our species. In November, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that efforts to make AI safe only have'a five to 10 per cent chance of success.'