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Slideshow: Feds Study Human Brain; DARPA Wants to Make Robots Autonomous

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Ann R. Thryft
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Re: FEDS STUDY HUMAN BRAIN
Ann R. Thryft   11/4/2013 1:36:55 PM
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bobjengr, I'm so sorry your mom died of Alzheimers. That's very recent and it's probably hard to process everything right now. My own mother died of complications related to the same thing, plus other issues, in May. It took me quite a while to be able to think clearly about everything. But I know if there had been a cure, she could have lived a few more years, and she could have lived many of the years she did live in her right mind instead of not. Let's hope that some of this amazing research will help that happen for other people.

bobjengr
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FEDS STUDY HUMAN BRAIN
bobjengr   11/3/2013 3:45:47 PM
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Excellent Post Ann.  On October 13th of this year my mother died of Alzheimer's.   IF the FED, through DARPA, is working towards an understanding of how the brain works, consequently how it can miss-fire", I'm all for it. My problem is, right now, I definitely mistrust most government agencies relative to investigative efforts coming from DARP, the IRS, NSA, CIA, etc.  You get the picture.  Maybe I'm going through a "stage" but I simply don't feel their efforts are benign or maybe its that their work could be eventually be used inappropriately.    Let's hope DARPA can prove me incorrect.  Again, excellent post.  

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Human Robots
Ann R. Thryft   6/11/2013 8:32:51 PM
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Wow, bbix, those are some really good points. Your comments about Asimov's "rules" speak to a growing feeling of unease I've had when I read people referring to those "rules" as if they're a done deal, instead of a serving suggestion in a sci-fi story written a long time ago. I've become increasingly uncomfortable about robotic abilities and decreasingly confident that we will continue to be able to control them past some as-yet unknown point. And also decreasingly certain that there really is a single human "we." As far as "packs" of robots, we have, indeed, written a fair amount about swarming robots in Design News. But this isn't a robotics publication or a scientific or academic journal, so we don't go into a lot of detail.

bbix
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Re: Human Robots
bbix   6/11/2013 4:22:52 PM
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Since intelligent, self-learning systems don't have fixed code, they are trained and evolve themselves, I don't know if they'd be able to get Asimov's rules to sit on top and overide priorities the system establishes as it learns.  From a machines perspective though, the most flexible / creative tool for repairs and creating new features may very well be the human.  Whether its code or mechanical or electrical, when something doesn't work right, its always "call in the humans to fix it".  Given our vast ability to recognize patterns and figure out unique ways to apply tools and materials and expand our knowledge, I think it will be a long time before the machines figure we are obsolete, a threat perhaps, but needed all the same.  More likely, power hungry individual humans will find unique ways to exploit intelligent robots to expand their own power.  These individuals would do anything to overide any of the Asimovic safeguards that were attempted to be built in.  None of these articles touch on the collaborative team based approach that humans usually exploit to good effect.  Future autonomous robots will need to learn to operate in packs with each one understanding the others' capabilities, strength, and weaknesses, knowing what information to share to effectively accomplish a task and how to break it down into subtasks that each can work on to their best ability.  We still have a long ways to go before systems have the robustness, collaborative skills, and self repair capabilities envisioned in Terminator, not to mention that it appeared that those machines continued basic research and vastly improved their own designs.  Having machines that capable is both scary and hopeful (they could do all the dirty / hard tasks we don't want to).  At what point do they become "citizens", how do you separate one individual from the group when they are able to exchange complete information, do they even exist as individuals or is the networked group the individual and the specific bots more like your hands/ feet just not attached to each other? 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Human Robots
Ann R. Thryft   5/24/2013 12:06:15 PM
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Much as I like writing about autonomous robots, I have some concerns similar to William's and CougFan's. And it's funny how often Asimov's robot rules come up in these discussions. I wonder if they're being taken seriously by robot designers yet? Let's hope it happens in time...



CougFan
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Re: Human Robots
CougFan   5/23/2013 5:15:35 PM
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Although Cyberdyne Systems was just a tool in James Cameron's Terminator, I am amazed how the 1980's sci-fi movie is predicting the future.  OK, maybe not time travel yet, but autonomous flying vehicles, Unmaned fighting units.  Before we know it, mapping the brain, one of the most powerful processing units around, maybe we will learn how to capture that power and place it in a machine.  I just hope all robot creators out there have read Issac Asimov's I, Robot and stick to the rules!

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Human Robots
Ann R. Thryft   5/23/2013 1:05:05 PM
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I think Chuck is right--I am continually amazed at how many predictions made by sci-fi writers have come true. Which makes me wonder how many sci-fi readers there are among engineers and those who start technology companies, in other words: how much of this is on purpose?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Human Robots
Ann R. Thryft   5/23/2013 12:58:57 PM
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CougFan, I've often wondered if DARPA has a stake in robotics companies and those doing related research. But from what I've observed, I think their stake amounts to funding key research at key stages. Boston Dynamics is one example.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: The next frontier
Ann R. Thryft   5/23/2013 12:56:23 PM
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Chuck. I was amazed to find out how much is actually known about the brain and its workings. What I've mentioned here is only the tip of the iceberg--a lot has been going on for a few decades now. Of course, it's quite complex so there's lots more to do.

Charles Murray
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Re: Human Robots
Charles Murray   5/21/2013 7:08:30 PM
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Science fiction authors have been forcasting all of the problems you mentioned for many years, William K. And with each passing year, I've come to increasingly believe that those science fiction authors were right on the money. It's going to be hard to prevent robot builders from viewing autonomy as a great feature, though.

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