Max Aguilera-Hellweg is both a doctor and a photographer and has brought his unique sensibility to explore the point at which robots become more like humans. His new book of portraits of humanoids and androids displays the range created, from the geminoids designed to look and act like humans, to a scary robot created to understand how they learn.
"I, Robot", a movie from 2004 set in the year 2035 where humans and robots coexist, but the humanoid robots are really just assistants and labor workers for humans. These robots run on an AI supercomputer called V.I.K.I, but all it took is for V.I.K.I to become self aware and turn the robots on the humans, much like "Terminator" with SkyNet, but with a bit less violence. The year is 2017 and we are not yet at the point where we have AI mastered enough to create robots like those in "I, Robot" and "Terminator", but we are getting very close. The point is, we'll more than likely see robots like those in "I, Robot" before the year of the movie, 2035. The way the technology is going in AI and robotics, we could see mass produced AI equipped robot assistants as early as 2025.
The last time the British government embarked on a serious overhaul of its labour laws, the country was blazing with the fires and unrest of the first industrial revolution. Now it may be on the brink of extending basic workers' rights to robots at the dawn of a very different age. As artificial intelligence begins to vie with humans for jobs everywhere from factory floors to solicitors' chambers, the EU is to vote on controversial plans to declare autonomous robots "electronic persons".
One of the many things that makes humanoid walking tricky is the fact that when we walk, we're off balance almost all of the time. For some silly reason, our legs are positioned to the left and right when we spend most of our time walking forwards, which means that walking means constantly rocking sideways while also leaning in the direction we're going. Most robots don't try to walk like this, and the few that do tend to be very complex and difficult to manage. At UCLA, Dennis Hong's Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa) has come up with a robot design that's a novel new take on bipedal walking. By doing away with anthropomorphic design and turning a humanoid robot sideways, they've been able to create a stable and agile bipedal design that's simple and cheap and the same time.