THE ROBOT REPORT (1/1/2012) — Connect 4, Remote Access, and Robot Ethics

Today on the Robot Report we’ve got a humanoid companion, a robot remote suit, and the ethics to guide their use.

1. Nao More Than Ever


Two great videos featuring the French NAO robot who can grab a ball, cover his face when falling, and play connect four. Via here and here.

2. Telexistence in Japan

This Japanese robot is going to massively accelerate the trend of offshoring for skilled work.

3. Robotic Getaway Cars?

The New York Times had an op-ed by Colin Allen from Indiana University, Bloomington on machine morality that’s worth a read. It’s triple-hedged in typical academic fashion, but he admits that it’s a worthy question and that’s a good thing:

Machines are increasingly operating with minimal human oversight in the same physical spaces as we do. Entrepreneurs are actively developing robots for home care of the elderly. Robotic vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers are already mass market items. Self-driving cars are not far behind. Mercedes is equipping its 2013 model S-Class cars with a system that can drive autonomously through city traffic at speeds up to 25 m.p.h. Google’s fleet of autonomous cars has logged about 200,000 miles without incident in California and Nevada, in conditions ranging from surface streets to freeways. By Google’s estimate, the cars have required intervention by a human co-pilot only about once every 1,000 miles and the goal is to reduce this rate to once in 1,000,000 miles. How long until the next bank robber will have an autonomous getaway vehicle?

I find the image appealing but strange; doesn’t it seem much more likely that your ‘autonomous’ car will be synchronized to a network that allows the government to stop all the cars in the city the second the bank is robbed?

The Future of Moral Machines

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