At last, technology has enabled us to create a robot with the reasoning and communication skills of a two year old that walks like a ninety year old man trying to limbo.
It was Arthur C. Clarke that said “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. Which somehow shines a light on how much we’re all like spoiled little children when it comes to our expectations with technology. If it isn’t free and relatively glitch-free (like, you know, the internet and stuff), we’ll be submitting our negative reviews in a nanosecond. A truly revolutionary and amazing device like the iPad is created, and before it’s even available to purchase, we discard it as “nifty, but not quite good enough”, like Goldilocks sampling the porridge. I’m more guilty of this behavior than many people I know; just read my Disappointing Technologies Part I and Part II to learn what a whiny baby I really am. My latest technological ennui was caused by trying to look into the state of robotics today. We’ve touched on the Uncanny Valley and cool robots a few times over the last couple of years, so I thought it would be exciting to revisit things in 2010. Well, I’m not the only one yawning. Don’t get me wrong, I have some understanding of the incredible research, engineering, and testing that goes into creating a robot that can’t talk, listen, or reason at the level of a human two year old and walks like a ninety year old man trying to limbo. It’s just that I don’t care. I want my lifelike human companion with encyclopedic knowledge and advanced shoulder massage skills, and I want it now. Below is a video roundup of the cutting edge in android technology today.
This is the bleeding edge in Uncanny Valley technology, taking the creepy lifeless lifelikness to new heights. It might be even creepier if it could move its arms or even shift in its seat. I don’t think I even want it to be able to walk. Learn more here.
In spite of the fact that it’s pretty impressive that the “Robonaut” can pick up a piece of paper without mutilating it, one can’t help but wonder if a project to put a robot in space is one of the reasons that Obama is cutting back on the budget to send humans. The dexterity of this robot’s hands is amazing. It’ll be an amazing upgrade of the carnival fortune teller concept once they get it to talk too.
This little guy is actually pretty cute. When they advance this model, I hope his descendants don’t get a glimpse of this clip though. It would likely start some kind of anti-robot-abuse movement
You would think that with the wealth of dystopian literature about the frightening results of humans trying to create a creature in their image that extends from Frankenstein to Blade Runner, that the last thing you would want is a race of robots resentful and aware of the flaws we gave them that were also able to evolve. But here you have it. The seeds of the robot apocalypse.