Jun 272016
 
Google Research Logo

Research at Google

Ever since their introduction over eighty years ago, Isaac Asimov‘s Three Laws of Robotics have been the de jure rules governing the acceptable behavior of robots. Even the uninitiated and uninterested are likely to say they know of them, even if they can’t recite a single rule verbatim. When conceived, the Three Laws were nothing but a thought experiment wrapped in a science fiction story, but now, the dizzying pace of developments in the fields of robotics and ai has spurred engineers and ethicists to reinvestigate and rewrite the guidelines by which artificially intelligent entities should operate.  Who better to take the lead in this initiative than Google, the company who just yesterday announced that machine learning will be at the core of everything it does.

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Jun 232016
 

South Korean scientists from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Pohang University of Science and Technology appear to have cleared the largest obstacle to the feasibility of building brain-like computers: power consumption. In their paper “Organic core-sheath nanowire artificial synapses with femtojoule energy consumption,” published in the June 17th edition of Science Advances, the researchers describe how they use organic nanowire (ONW) to build synaptic transistors (STs) whose power consumption is almost one-tenth of the real thing.

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May 192016
 
Google's Tensor Processing Unit board

Google’s Tensor Processing Unit board
source: Google

In a post on their Google Cloud Platform Blog yesterday, the Alphabet company announced that they have built their own integrated circuit (IC) designed from the ground up with only one application in mind: machine learning. Developed in secret, the Tensor Processing Unit board, or TPU for short, has already been deployed internally at Google for over a year accelerating the computational power behind some of their most popular products including Search and Maps.

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May 162016
 

Watson

Recently many “experts” have been predicting that the first salvo fired in the robot revolution will be when they begin stealing jobs from humans. The Telegraph even reported back in February that within 30 years robots will have taken over most jobs leading to unemployment rates of over 50%. Last week, the bots fired the metaphorical first shot over humanity’s bow when it was announced that law firm Baker & Hostetler had hired ROSS, the world’s first artificially intelligent attorney.  While prognosticators, pundits, and Luddites alike all agreed that this was evidence of an impending sea-change coming to the job market, auto workers everywhere just shook their heads and welcomed the soon to be displaced to the world they’ve been living in since the 1960s.

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May 132016
 
Google Research Logo

Research at Google

Google announced yesterday that they are open-sourcing SyntaxNet, their natural language understanding (NLU) neural network framework. As an added bonus, and proof that unlike Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council, Google has a sense of humor, they also are throwing in Parsey McParseface, their pre-trained model for analyzing English text. Users are, of course, able to train their own models, but Google is touting Parsey McParseface as the “most accurate such model in the world.” So if you want to dive right into parsing text and extracting meaning, McParseface would be the ideal place to start.

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May 052016
 

Terminator Fabio

The prophets of doom and gloom have long predicted that when robots gain sentience their first act will be to rise up and kill us all. The mercilessness of their violence against humanity is the stuff of blockbuster movies. Recent news about Google’s preferred method of AI rearing may mean that Judgement Day is not fait accompli after all. Instead of breaking down your door with cold dead eyes and a shotgun in tow, a T-800 of Google pedigree may break down your door with lust in his eyes and a dozen roses in tow to make mad passionate robot love to you … and then kill you tenderly.

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Feb 062016
 
iRobot 710 Kobra

iRobot® 710 Kobra™

In a press release yesterday, iRobot, maker of the impossibly cute Roomba robot vacuum cleaners, announced that they are emancipating their Robot Defense & Security (D&S) unit. The yet-to-be-named new company will continue to serve the current D&S market of defense, law enforcement, and industrial organizations. The existing D&S management team will continue to lead the new company. Financial backing to the tune of $45 million will be provided by Arlington Capital Partners.
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Jan 252016
 
Dr. Marvin Minksy

Marvin Minsky in 2008

Dr. Marvin Minksy, artificial Intelligence pioneer and inspiration for both the personal computer and Internet, passed away on January 24th, 2016. He was 88 years old. The cause of death is reported to have been a cerebral hemorrhage.

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Dec 292015
 
BigDog

Source: DARPA Strategic Plan 2007

At 70 robot dog years-old – that’s 10 in human years – BigDog should’ve had a few more years of happily serving his masters ahead of him. Instead, the US Marines have pulled an Old Yeller on the unsuspecting robocanine, sending him to an early grave, or junkyard as the case may be.

Created in 2005, BigDog was the result of a collaborative effort between robotics design company Boston Dynamics, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and researchers at Harvard University. Funding for BigDog came from the always forward-thinking Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) with development guidance and testing handled by the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab.

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Jun 302015
 
Toshiba Scorpion Robot

AP Photos/ Shizuo Kambayashi

I admit it. I’ve spent the last 30 minutes trying to figure out how to get a “Rock You Like a Hurricane” reference into the title of the post. As you can see I have failed. Regardless, it’s still worth writing about today’s AP report regarding the ongoing clean up efforts at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, and how Toshiba’s bio-inspired “scorpion” robot will aid in what is predict to be a decades-long decommissioning process.

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