Boston Dynamics, previously featured here, is a Google-owned robotics company that just released a new design — Spot, the Robot Dog.
From Boston Dynamics:
“Spot is a four-legged robot designed for indoor and outdoor operation. It is electrically powered and hydraulically actuated. Spot has a sensor head that helps it navigate and negotiate rough terrain. Spot weighs about 160 lbs.”
I actually started to feel some empathy for Spot when he was being kicked by the engineer. It responded in such an organic way… rapidly gaining its balance and then pausing for a moment to digest the assault.
The applications for these machines are seemingly endless. They can carry supplies into dangerous environments (i.e. helping soldiers move equipment), assist the disabled with chores, or simply be a man’s new robot best friend. Exciting times ahead…
“The Final Moments of Karl Brant” is a Science Fiction short created by M.Francis Wilson, starring Paul Reubens (AKA Pee-wee Herman). The premise is similar to the recent Singularity blockbuster called Transcendence (starring Johnny Depp). I didn’t see that movie because it received such terrible Rotten Tomatoes reviews from both critics and the general public, alike.
However, I appreciated this effort to humanize the transfer of human consciousness to a machine. If nothing else, it will make you ponder the concepts of immortality, personal identity, and the future of humanity…
There were some excellent comments over at the Singularity Hub, which I will include here. I think they are definitely worth a read…
From the TheLastSaneManOnEarth:
When it comes to common sense I’m probably smarter than anyone reading this right now. I boil things down to the essentials instead of cluttering my mind with smartass mindgames and myriads of information.
The answer everyone is seeking is clear, and I’m as certain as can be.
NEITHER digital nor biological immortality is objectively a “true” or “right” path for any individual. Both pursuits can be philosophically deconstructed to the point where there is simply no RATIONAL reason to pursue either.
That’s because “nihilism” is, in a way, true. There is no purpose in life, inherently. That means you have complete freedom to choose what goals, and what purposes you pursue (Or your “brain”, or your “personality” has that freedom …).
For me, I’ve set my goal to achive maximum longevity & happiness. But if you choose to pursue pain, unhappiness, and ultimately death – that’s your freedom and it’s not inherently wrong or right, it just is. Just as you just ARE. You’re a clump of molecules moving and interacting in a way to create what we call “homo sapiens”, “brain”, “personality”, “You”. That’s all you are. Molecules assembled through random processes facilitated by the laws of physics governing in this universe. “You” is just a word. Coincidental as the universe itself. No magic. Just a clump of matter that thinks that it “exists”.
You can choose whatever you want to define as the word “you”. You can define it as your information and personality. Or you can define it as your atoms, and your physical brain. There is simply no “true” definition, because reality, words, feelings, it’s all completely subjective and “un-true”.
Ok, that’s a bit hard to grasp at first – So here comes a more practical argument, and of course 100% subjective, AGAINST the euphoric hope for “digital immortality”:
For all you know, you currently have billions of identical twins in parallel universes. But if you’re honest, you’ll admit that you couldn’t care less about what lives they live or don’t live. Or do you care? Would you sacrifice or risk your own life, to save any one of those infinite “parallel” twins, who have the same personality and memories?
Yeah. Didn’t think so.
So we’ve established that there is nothing inherently valuable – from your standpoint – in having a separate entity in existence somewhere else (e.g. a mind-twin in a parallel universe, or a mind-copy on a computer in your basement). That’s simply because you are human, and humans are egoistic. AND THAT IS OK.
On the other hand, our body’s molecules are finishing a cycle of complete replacement every ~7 years (so almost no molecules from back then are left), on which’s basis many techno-utopian charlatanes claim we are not our matter, and therefore “must” be information. That’s like saying “A” seems wrong, so “B” must be true – a logical error. Or just deliberately misleading people to gain power and traction and sell books.
Again – there is nothing inherently valuable about information, ones’s and zero’s. Or a piece of music. Or a book. Or a movie. Or your digital mind-copy. If you choose to associate positive sentiments with those things being in existence, that’s you’re choice.
So although, in a way, nihilism is “truth” – the logical start and endpoint of all philosophy – if all existence is absurd, so is nihilism itself. Again – that means you can CHOOSE what path you pursue – the least absurd one, if you like.
I personally hope, that for most “sane” humans that’d arguably be to maintain their own brain, and not die for a software-copy. And indeed there may still be ways to become biologically “immortal” and endowed with godlike capacities and happiness in a Matrix-Style-happy-eterniverse, but that’s another story and not one that Kurzweil & friends would like to hear.
and from Kiriri in response:
Surprisingly, for once I absolutely agree with everything said in a comment here, well, apart from the being smarter than me
Let me add to the momentum with a little thought experiment. Imagine you could replace all parts of your brain, no matter how small or large, with computer chips. Would you still be the same person if you added some augmentive chip like a math-module to your brain? You’d think so. Now think farther, what if you replaced 2% of your brain with a chip each year. When would you stop being “you”? After some time you will behave and think very differently than before. But you’d still think of yourself as the same being, just like you’d say “That’s me!” to a photo of you as a child, even though your behavioural pattern or even your physiology now is probably nothing like what it was back then.
What humans define as their consciousness is in fact a nearly infinite amount of conscious states that fade into each other. The you from a second ago is not the you you are now. Or if it is, the you now is the same as you in your childhood, just because due to the gradual interpolation between your conscious states you cannot differentiate between them.
I personally would therefore upload my mind slowly to make the change imperceptible compared to all the other changes that happen to me every moment of every second of my life.
I should note that this is a religious topic. Consciousness is imaginary, just like all other definitions humans have ever come up with. They are all relative at most
I like what Kariri added to the conversation… It makes sense to me that we would want to slowly adjust to any new consciousness construct. In this way, we could “dissolve” seamlessly into our new identities.
“We Were Not Made For This World” is a new short video created by Colin West McDonald. In this story, a lonely robot wanders through the desert, searching for some meaning of its existence. With each step, death approaches ever more quickly… It reminds me of the countless humans who have journeyed from home to find purpose in the wilderness, to find their place in the great unknown…
Milos Rajkovic is an anti-war Serbian artist who makes animated GIFs showing the inner-working of authority figures like generals and politicians. The busts are filled with ridiculous characters (clowns, machines, birds, etc.) which poke fun at the ruling class. It’s all rather mesmerizing…
A word from the artist:
“I think that satirical humor is the best form of criticism and thats the reason why I use it so much in my work. The interesting thing is that people who don’t understand that kind of humor always thinks that my art is scary and disturbing.”
The Karate Kid Robot was designed by Boston Dynamics (now owned by Google) and programmed by the robotics lab at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC). The robot stands at 6 ft 2 in tall and weighs in at 330 lbs! And now that we’re teaching it how to do karate, this robot is truly becoming a fighting machine.
Here’s a bio from Boston Dynamics:
“Atlas (the trade name) is a high mobility, humanoid robot designed to negotiate outdoor, rough terrain. Atlas can walk bipedally leaving the upper limbs free to lift, carry, and manipulate the environment. In extremely challenging terrain, Atlas is strong and coordinated enough to climb using hands and feet, to pick its way through congested spaces.
Articulated, sensate hands will enable Atlas to use tools designed for human use. Atlas includes 28 hydraulically-actuated degrees of freedom, two hands, arms, legs, feet and a torso.
An articulated sensor head includes stereo cameras and a laser range finder. Atlas is powered from an off-board, electric power supply via a flexible tether.
Several copies of the Atlas robot are being provided as Government Furnished Equipment for the DARPA Robotics Challenge program with delivery scheduled in the summer of 2013.”
Ian competed in the US Government’s Robot Olympics, and was apparently able to walk, carry a fire hose, and get in a car and drive it. I’m impressed! The robot only came in second, so I was terribly curious to find out who won!?
It was SCHAFT, from Japan (no surprise). Here’s the Shaft “highlight reel,” so to speak:
Now, we just need to see Atlas and SCHAFT fight in a death match.
We’ve featured Fabian Oefner’s work here on the blog before. He’s a photographer, videographer and a self-proclaimed “curious investigator, photographer and artist, whose work moves between the fields of art and science.” We can certainly appreciate that sentiment at RobotSpaceBrain. His new collaboration with Ferrari is another wonderful fusion of art and science.
Wind tunnels are often used in aerodynamic research to study the effects of air moving past solid objects. In the automobile industry, the tunnel can be used to measure the aerodynamic forces and pressure distribution to optimize a car’s design. In this project, Fabian sprays UV paint into the wind tunnel with a black California T Ferrari and captures the scene in it all its glory.
The artwork is certainly commercial, but I appreciate it just the same. After all, artists have to make money too…