The Future: Genetic Engineering, Nanotechnology, Robotics

29 July 2012

“The Future is genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and, ultimately, robotics,” says Ray Kurzweil.

TEDxNYU – Christopher Bradley – Synthetic Biology: This Will Change Everything“We’re using genes as programming languages,” says Christoper Bradley. “Biology plus engineering equals synthetic biology.”

Empire of the Ants is a good bad movie. At one point while watching it I thought nanoants. An ant would be a great way to introduce the topic of nanotechnology. Most people have seen ants. Ants are small, but we can see them with our naked eyes. A nanoant is one-billionth of an ant. In otherwords, take an ant and cut it into a billion equally sized pieces.

Most realistic android infant?“They plan to add voice, body temperature, skin, body movements, and smell,” says KurzweilAI.net.


The Uncanny Valley by Masahiro Mori

12 June 2012

I find visits to the “Uncanny Valley” bothersome. I quickly recover, but I suspect the visits to the uncanny valley are going to become more frequent and increasingly bothersome.

The Uncanny Valley by Masahiro Mori in 01970.

Spectrum.IEEE.org Editor’s note:
More than 40 years ago, Masahiro Mori, then a robotics professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, wrote an essay on how he envisioned people’s reactions to robots that looked and acted almost human.


Human Genome; Autonomous Vehicles; Supercomputing; SpaceX

1 June 2012

From a sociopolitical perspective the 21st century has been a dud, but ignoring that…

Human Genome Project completed in 02003; DARPA Grand Challenge successfully met in 02005; DARPA Urban Challenge successfully met in 02007; TOP500 top supercomputer tops petaflops in 02008; IBM’s Watson wins Jeopardy! in 02011; SpaceX successfully completes its first mission in 02012.

[update::02012.06.01] This posting should have included the following… Yesterday (02012.05.31) the front page of the Arizona Republic had the following headline: “U.S. broadening cyberwar strategy”. Today the New York Times has a news story titled “Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran”. My gut tells me cyberwarfare, which I think is in progress, is going to be uglier than ugly.


Learning About the Future From 24 February To 20 April

22 April 2012

On 20 April 02012 I gave my “Learning About the Future in 50 Minutes” for a second time. I thought it went well, but only ten people were in attendance. I gave this talk for the first time 56 days earlier on 24 February 02012. I created a web page to capture what I’ve been learning over the span of the last 56 days.

56 Days Since My First “Learning About the Future in 50 Minutes” Talk


The ‘C’ in SCREAMers

13 April 2012

The STEM and STEAM acronyms have become popular acronyms here in the early part of the 21st century. [If I’ve said this n times, I’ve seen it ++n times.]

I’ve never liked the STEM acronym. The first time I saw it I immediately asked “Where’s the Computing?” [And this is said out loud mimicking the way the old Wendy’s lady said “Where’s the Beef?” in those old Wendy’s commercials.] The same “Where’s the Computing?” question applies to the STEAM acronym. Sometime not that long ago I subjected the STEM and STEAM acronyms to the following question: “Where’s the Robotics?”

21st STEM and STEAM depend on Computing, so I originally proposed changing STEM and STEAM to CSTEM and CSTEAM, respectively. There three immediate problems: (0) CSTEM and CSTEAM are not really acronyms. (1) STEM and STEAM are too embedded in our society to change them (i.e. they’re immutable). (2) Where’s the Robotics?

Problem (1) might be impossible to repair, so I’m going to ignore that it exists. Problems (0) and (2) are eliminated with use of the SCREAM acronym. Let the Technology morph into technologies and bury it in the sciences (e.g. biotechnology and nanotechnology), the computing, the robotics, the engineering, the art and the mathematics.

I recently used STEMers and STEAMers to refer to scientists, technologists, engineers, artists, and mathematicians. SCREAMers include those plus roboticists and… oops… computerists? computists? compueers? computicians? computerologists? In those infamous grunts of Homer Simpson… D’oh! Hmm… It would be fun to be able to rewind to when there were no non-human computers and refer to the ‘C’ in SCREAMers as computers. SCREAMers are scientists, computers [humans], roboticists, engineers, artists, and mathematicians.

The ‘C’omputing in SCREAM includes both human and non-human computers. 21st century STEM, STEAM and SCREAM depend on all of us being “computers.”

The following was copied from Wikipedia.org…

The first use of the word “computer” was recorded in 1613, referring to a person who carried out calculations, or computations, and the word continued with the same meaning until the middle of the 20th century. From the end of the 19th century the word began to take on its more familiar meaning, a machine that carries out computations.


DARPA Announces a Robotics Challenge

10 April 2012

DARPA has announced a Robotics Challenge. Kudos to DARPA. 10 April 02012 might become an epoch year for the United States of America.

My initial thought when I heard DARPA was going to a #RoboChallenge was that they wanted to accelerate their transition to robotic soldiers, but my initial thought was wrong. The following was copied from DARPA.mil…

“Hardware, software, modeling and gaming developers sought to link with emergency response and science communities to design robots capable of supervised autonomous response to simulated disaster.”

I suspect DARPA wants to start with robots that are put to work when disasters occur and then use the technological advances to evolve toward robo-soldiers.

The following was copied from DARPA.mil…

This challenge is going to test supervised autonomy in perception and decision-making, mounted and dismounted mobility, dexterity, strength and endurance in an environment designed for human use but degraded due to a disaster. Adaptability is also essential because we don’t know where the next disaster will strike. The key to successfully completing this challenge requires adaptable robots with the ability to use available human tools, from hand tools to vehicles.

The winner of the #RoboChallenge wins $2 million. It appears the challenge ends 31 December 02014.

Kudos to DARPA for creating a Robotics Challenge. I think it’s probably a bad idea if the United States is not number one in robotics. This challenge will probably help our country accelerate its entrance into the Robotics Age.


Does the future need us?

28 December 2009

Singularity Hub’s A Review Of The Best Robots of 2009 reaffirms my belief that all high school students should be required to read, ponder and discuss Bill Joy’s essay Why the future doesn’t need us.

It might be a serious error to ignore Bill Joy’s opinion.

Our most powerful 21st-century technologies – robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech – are threatening to make humans an endangered species.

As 02009 nears an end, I continue to claim that we have not yet entered the Age of Robotics, but Singuarlity Hub’s robot review provides evidence that the Robotics Age is rapidly approaching.