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Video: Robotic Droplets Will Assemble Satellites
2/28/2013

Swarming robots, or droplets, developed by the University of Colorado, Boulder, may someday assemble telescopes and satellites in space.   (Source: University of Colorado, Boulder)
Swarming robots, or droplets, developed by the University of Colorado, Boulder, may someday assemble telescopes and satellites in space.
(Source: University of Colorado, Boulder)

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Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Swarming robot "droplets"
Ann R. Thryft   3/8/2013 12:45:14 PM
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Thanks, William. I knew people working on AI back in the early 70s and again in the 90s and 00s. Trying to make computers work like we do in terms of logical processes is still a far cry from also giving them sentience and self-awareness. But no, I don't relish the thought of a toaster or a fridge with a 'tude. My computer already seems to have that problem :)



William K.
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Re: Swarming robot "droplets"
William K.   3/7/2013 4:56:19 PM
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Ann, no, I can't tell you who. 

BUT, in the public domain there have been references to some university people working towards artificial intelligence, and they have included self awareness as one means of moving toward human type judgement. My advice would remain, to "Think very carefully about the ultimate effects of your creations", because sometimes the machine does not stop just because you push the stop button.

Since people are rather less predictable than computers and robots, conside the problems that we could have if those in-animate things became a lot less predictable. What if your washing machine developed an "attitude problem", rather than just a component failure?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Swarming robot "droplets"
Ann R. Thryft   3/7/2013 12:39:10 PM
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William, you've posted this basic comment/idea so often that I'm starting to think you know something about AI that the rest of us don't. The last time I looked, they were nowhere near achieving the kind of thing you're suggesting. Can you tell us any specifics of who's doing self-awareness research on the cutting edge right now?

William K.
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Re: Swarming robot "droplets"
William K.   3/6/2013 10:10:16 PM
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Ann, Of course self awareness is not what these researchers are aiming for , but others are seeking to make the robots "Real", using artificial inteligence. My concern is that the AI group will create something that leads to self awarenesss, and shortly after that we will al be in trouble. Just considerthe problem of being in a cloud of rbots small enough to inhale accidentaly, and being allergic to their case materials.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Swarming robot "droplets"
Ann R. Thryft   3/6/2013 1:24:41 PM
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Cabe, great visualization & metaphor. I wonder, though, if they're too small to deal with space junk. NASA is working on a different robotic system for that, which we covered here: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=249134

The satlets' size is not given, but I'd guess it's a bit bigger than these droplets.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Swarming robot "droplets"
Ann R. Thryft   3/6/2013 1:23:26 PM
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William, your comment on self-awareness is interesting, but I think it's important to remember that self-assembly occurs throughout nature without necessarily implying an accompanying sentience.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Swarming robot "droplets"
Cabe Atwell   3/5/2013 3:06:04 PM
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These bots remind me of white blood cells. They will surround a satellite until it is fixed. That will be interesting.

These bots should also travel around and disassemble the derelict space debris and push it all into a decaying orbit.

C

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Swarming robot "droplets"
Ann R. Thryft   3/4/2013 1:03:16 PM
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William, the researchers mentioned primarily assembly, not repair. The repair mentioned in the article was done by larger robots, and on coral reefs, which takes very little strength: picking up and placing very small pieces of coral. And swarms of small robots have worked together to assemble structures both large and small:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W18Z3UnnS_0
http://www.idsc.ethz.ch/Research_DAndrea/Archives/Flying_Machine_Enabled_Construction

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Swarming
Ann R. Thryft   3/4/2013 1:02:30 PM
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All good questions, Cabe. I'm sure we'll learn more if/when the space application ever emerges. So far, it's one of several the research team envisions, not an actual project in progress.

William K.
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Swarming robot "droplets"
William K.   3/2/2013 8:13:51 PM
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I am wondering just what sort of repairs such small robots could be called on to do. Strength usually comes with size, and even working in concert, these would still be a collection of "small". An area of far greater concern would be if a "collective intelligence" should become self aware. That could lead to a number of unanticipated outcomes. 

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