If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
How did Michael Crichton, Sean Connery, and Wesley Snipes factor into the creation of a preeminent robotics firm? The story begins on the movie set of the 1993 action thriller "Rising Sun," starring Connery and Snipes and based off the Crichton novel of the same name. It was during a week of filming under the hot California sun that Raibert, then a professor at MIT, realized there was more work to do. "We were providing robots for the background of a scene in the movie," said Raibert. "And we were there for a week. And it was a week of hell."
The man who designed some of the world's most advanced dynamic robots was on a daunting mission: programming his creations to dance to the beat with a mix of fluid, explosive and expressive motions that are almost human. Almost a year and half of choreography, simulation, programming and upgrades that were capped by two days of filming to produce a video running at less than 3 minutes. The clip, showing robots dancing to the 1962 hit "Do You Love Me?" by The Contours, was an instant hit on social media, attracting more than 23 million views during the first week. It shows two of Boston Dynamics' humanoid Atlas research robots doing the twist, the mashed potato and other classic moves, joined by Spot, a doglike robot, and Handle, a wheeled robot designed for lifting and moving boxes in a warehouse or truck. Boston Dynamics founder and chairperson Marc Raibert says what the robot maker learned was far more valuable.
It's impossible to talk about Boston Dynamics robots without acknowledging two things: They're a marvel of modern engineering, and their agility can be incredibly unnerving. A 46-second video of Spot the robot "dog" opening a door has more than 56 million views on YouTube. Atlas, the company's headless humanoid robot, can go for a jog or do parkour. And just last week, the company released new footage of Spot the robot recharging on its own. But even as many observers joke about a robot apocalypse--or the perhaps more realistic possibility that robots will simply take humans' jobs--Boston Dynamics insists these machines still have a long way to go.
Boston Dynamics has reportedly already sold more than 250 of its $75,000 Spot robots since starting commercial sales back in June. Interested and deep-pocketed parties can purchase one directly from the company's website as well as a host of accessories, from $1,650 charging bricks to $34,570 lidar and camera kits. But one add-on which we've seen Spot with since some of its earliest demo videos was the prehensile arm sprouting from between its shoulder blades. But come next January, Spots around the world are going to get a whole lot more handsy. "The next thing on the future Spot is that we're going to make it available with a robot arm in a few months," Boston Dynamics founder Marc Raibert told the virtual crowd at the Collision from Home conference in June.
Massachusetts State Police (MSP) has been quietly testing ways to use the four-legged Boston Dynamics robot known as Spot, according to new documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. And while Spot isn't equipped with a weapon just yet, the documents provide a terrifying peek at our RoboCop future. This browser does not support the video element. The Spot robot, which was officially made available for lease to businesses last month, has been in use by MSP since at least April 2019 and has engaged in at least two police "incidents," though it's not clear what those incidents may have been. It's also not clear whether the robots were being operated by a human controller or how much autonomous action the robots are allowed.
Founded in 1992, Boston Dynamics is arguably the best-known robot company around, in part because its demonstration videos tend to go viral. Now it is attempting to transform from an R&D company to a robotics business, with an eye on profitability for the first time. When we interviewed Boston Dynamics founder and former CEO Marc Raibert in November 2019, we discussed the company's customers, potential applications, AI, simulation, and those viral videos. But it turns out Raibert was transitioning out of the CEO role at the time -- current CEO Robert Playter told us in an interview this month that he took the helm in November. We sat down to discuss Playter's first year as CEO; profitability; Spot, Pick, Handle, and Atlas; and the company's broader roadmap, including which robots are next. Boston Dynamics hired Playter in 1994. After 18 years as vice president of engineering, Playter took a director role when the company was acquired by Google.
Massachusetts State Police (MSP) has been quietly testing ways to use the four-legged Boston Dynamics robot known as Spot, according to new documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. And while Spot isn't equipped with a weapon just yet, the documents provide a terrifying peek at our RoboCop future. The Spot robot, which was officially made available for lease to businesses last month, has been in use by MSP since at least April 2019 and has engaged in at least two police "incidents," though it's not clear what those incidents may have been. It's also not clear whether the robots were being operated by a human controller or how much autonomous action the robots are allowed. MSP did not respond to Gizmodo's emails on Monday morning.
And we focus really on the athletic part of it. I think, though, that if you do a good job on the athletic part, which is also kind of the low-level part, you can make it easier for high-level AI to interact with you." In other words, it's much easier to direct a robot to take care of a task for you if you've already taught the robot how to stand, walk, navigate, and so on.
The boss of robotics company Boston Dynamics has confessed he once pushed his one-year-old daughter over just to work out how people balance. A YouTube video of Marc Raibert's humanoid robot Atlas remaining upright while being poked with hockey sticks has 34 million views. He no longer knocked his robots over just to show people they could get themselves back up again, he said. But when he had done so, it was because he had felt like a "proud parent". "In fact, I have video of pushing on my daughter when she was one year old, knocking her over, getting some grief," he told BBC News, at Web Summit in Lisbon.
That science fiction future where robots can do what people and animals do may be closer than you think. Marc Raibert, founder of Boston Dynamics, is developing advanced robots that can gallop like a cheetah, negotiate 10 inches of snow, walk upright on two legs and even open doors and deliver packages. Join Raibert for a live demo of SpotMini, a nimble robot that maps the space around it, handles objects, climbs stairs -- and could soon be helping you out around the house. Check out more TED talks: http://www.ted.com The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less).