Category Archives: Robots

How high tech robotic surgery reduces costs

It’s always annoying to me when I hear people talk about how new advances in medicine are always going to cost more. In many cases the opposite is true. Here’s a well-written article from the NYT explaining why robotic surgery leads to CHEAPER health costs. The reasons are that there are fewer complications and patients can go home earlier, saving hospitals quite a bit of cash.

What Obama could learn from the “unmanned revolution”

“We’re at the beginning of an unmanned revolution.” That’s what Gary Kessler, who oversees unmanned aviation programs for the US Navy and Marines, told the AFP.

According to the article, “Robots or “unmanned systems” are now deployed by the thousands in Iraq and Afghanistan, spying from the sky for hours on end, searching for booby-traps and firing lethal missiles without putting US soldiers at risk.” This revolution is at hand because saving the lives of soldiers is very popular, which also happens to be part of a meme that is blocking President Obama’s health care plans.

That is, Americans expect technology to help save lives, even those that are in the most danger (hello robot drones). Any move to limit the use of technology to save lives (i.e., denying high tech care to those deemed “too sick or too old”) is guaranteed to hit resistance.

Robot creates scientific knowledge independent of humans

This is one more step on the way towards strong AI. From the FT:

“A laboratory robot called Adam has been hailed as the first machine in history to have discovered new scientific knowledge independently of its human creators.

Adam formed a hypothesis on the genetics of bakers’ yeast and carried out experiments to test its predictions, without intervention from its makers at Aberystwyth University.

The result was a series of “simple but useful” discoveries, confirmed by human scientists, about the gene coding for yeast enzymes. The research is published in the journal Science.”

Bionic Eye Gives Blind Man Sight

Video of the story here. Hat tip to Slashdot for the story.

“”A man who lost his sight 30 years ago says he can now see flashes of light after being fitted with a bionic eye. Ron, 73, had the experimental surgery seven months ago at London’s Moorfield’s eye hospital. He says he can now follow white lines on the road, and even sort socks using the bionic eye, known as Argus II.”

New security robot


“Japanese on Thursday unveiled a security robot that can be operated remotely by cellphone and launch a net to capture an intruder.

The prototype T-34, jointly developed by robot developer tmsuk Co. Ltd. and security company Alacom Co. Ltd., looks like a small wheeled vehicle and is loaded with sensors that detect anything untoward in an office building.

It can move at a maximum speed of 10 kilometres (six miles) per hour under the command of a person who sees real-time images of where the robot is on the screen of his cellphone.”

Monkey controls robot — again

On Thursday, a monkey named Idoya made a 200-pound, 5-foot humanoid robot walk on a treadmill using only her brain activity.

She was in North Carolina, and the robot was in Japan. Dr. Miguel A. L. Nicolelis, a neuroscientist at Duke University carried out the experiment. It was his team that in 2003 demonstrated that monkeys could control a robotic arm for reaching and grasping using only their thoughts.

Here is the NYT story, but you’d better read it fast. Last time this stuff was reported, it mysteriously disappeared from the face of the Net.

Command College links

I spoke at Command College today on future tech issues. Below is a list of links for the people in the room who want to read more on the issue areas.

Command College Links 2008

Virtual Reality and Intellectual property

Club Penguin:


Second life (trailer):

How something is built in Second Life:


Not just a game – exchanges with the USD:

Economic stats – a real economy. (Dec 2007 transactions = over 16 million; Nov 06 that number was 20 million):

Lest you think it’s all games, know that companies including IBM, Cisco and Amazon are now using Second Life as a corporate collaboration space– check out this conference from TechCrunch:

Second Life’s first millionaire:

How does she make money – it’s not just inside Second Life. There’s also markets on eBay etc.

Her website (she has her own currency exchange) Her real name is Ailin Graef & she lives in China.

Government reaction so far:

Do Second life issues ever spill into the real world?

Here’s one interesting news story:

Last May, in the wake of the shootings at Virginia Tech, a visiting avatar entered the Ohio University’s Second Life campus and fired at other avatars.

Rules of Second Life:


-What new police issues could come up in SL?

-Could SL issues spill into the real world?

-How does one deal with violence in a virtual space?

-How does one build reputation/trust?

-Could police track an offline criminal online and get data from him there? Would that be submissable? Are the worlds entangled enough?

-Do these people really own their property? What is property?

Enhancing machines

3 Categories:

A) Tech that acts like eyes – watching, labeling, recognizing

B) Tech that makes tasks less error prone

C) Tech to Mimic human (or animal) behavior – Robots!

Recognition (eyes)

Smart cameras (like face recognition tech)



RFID implementation, Brittan Elementary School in Sutter, California:

160 Mexican officials get chipped for secure areas and locating:


Darwinian police sketch:


Voice analysis:

For consumers:

Lie detecting brain scans:

Selling truth – the companies:

Brain fingerprint — has been used in court cases (didn’t help Jimmy Ray Slaughter):

Paul Allen Brain mapping project:

Document fingerprint (unique laser speckle pattern):

Reducing Error

Safety system for Fed Ex drivers etc:

Car Rental Company Acme took on a police role?

Car called Stanley that can drive itself (AI prof Sebastian Thrun at Stanford):

On June 6th 2005, DaimlerChrysler gave a public demonstration of their Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC) technology. This technology makes real-time communication possible between a vehicle and roadside stations and from one vehicle to another.

GM commits to driverless cars by 2018:

Robotic Exoskeleton (help with walking):


Predator Drone:

Tiny Drone:

Guardrobo D1:

198-pound robot that guards against intruders, fires and water leaks. It is approximately 3 feet 6 inches tall. Uses Shopping malls, banks and office buildings.

NUVO walking humanoid robot (


Asimo doing useful things:

Asimo falls:

Competitors to Asimo:

Toyota vs Honda:

Toyota (violin and mobility):

Toyota’s Robina:

Fujitsu’s HOAP, Humanoid for Open Architecture Platform:


Pleo specs

Wowee robot – Femi Sapien

How all these robots will be powered in the future:

Robot skin:

Human looking robot, repliee q1Expo.

Saya (scroll down):

Uncanny Valley:

Polar Express:

Robots Evolve to Deceive:

Three Laws of robotics:

Questions? — Help me come up with them.

What tech is most/least appealing?

The role of robots going forward.

How dangerous is it that tech made for one purpose can be used for another?

“A robot is a computer with arms, and Fujitsu is a computer company,” says Fumio Nagashima of the robotics group at Fujitsu Laboratories. – what do we think of this statement?

Enhancing Humans


Altering/enhancing the mind:

Liquid trust?

Studies behind it:

‘Improving’ the brain with drugs and

Getting smarter with electrical waves (power smaller than a watch battery):

Center for cognitive liberty (regulating/forcing mind-altering drugs):

Software for curing dyslexia:

Other brain-enhancing techniques (repository):

How to erase a memory:

Telekenetic Monkey & its implications: (good article — gone!)

Woman who thinks about moving her arm:

Remote controlled human (galvanic vestibular stimulation – electrodes behind ears. Commercial app is video games): (see video)

Replacing/enhancing humans

Robotic ankle:

Artificial knee cartilage w/o surgery:

3D printers: (nice graphic – scroll down a bit)

Printing circuits:

Cat heart tissue (printed with cells):,aid,117318,00.asp

Organ printing advances (how it works)

Schwarzenegger mice (muscle strength increased 27% in elderly mice – gene for growth hormone):

Resveratrol: (protects mice from the metabolic effects of a high calorie diet. Activate enzymes that protect against aging and significantly prolong life – Dr. David Sinclair)

Stem Cell research (West – how to learn from our immortal germ line)

Germline cells are immortal, in the sense that they can reproduce indefinitely.

Nanotechnology/nanomedicine: (smart bombs):

Nanotech restores vision in hamsters:

Life lengthing gene (C.elegans healthy life span 6 times longer than usual)

Personalized medicine:

Craig Venter:

Making new organisms:


Why do we age?

-Rusting from oxidative free radical damage through production of mitochondria in cells

-Inflammatory response is slowly killing us

-Because our bodies are saving all our energy for reproduction

How to Fix?


-Fish oils & anti-inflamatories:

-Starve ourselves so reproduction takes second place (caloric restriction 20 percent to 30 percent less calories)

Aubrey de Grey (Computer engineer meets biology)

Seven reasons for aging:



What if we could live an extra 100 years? Break into groups and discuss this question. What issues would come up?

How ill new technologies be managed?

Older criminal population?

Older employment population

What about withholding life-extension tech for criminals?

Web 2.0

Web 2.0 image:

Features of Web 2.0:


-My main blog:

-Started same day as Michael Powell:

(July 2004)

-My other blogs:

-One of my favorite blogs (anyone else have one):

-Blog search engine:

-Blog Stats (April 2007)


-Military blogging:

-At the beginning of 2006, only 200 military blogs existed. Now, currently has 1,827 military blogs in 32 countries with 3,948 registered members.

-Army Specialist Colby Buzzell’s blog (originally blogged as an anonymous soldier, after which he was confined to the base and forced to submit his entries to a platoon sergeant for review.)

-Spouce blogs:

-Police Blogs:


-Police monitoring blogs:

-Political advocacy:

-Employers not happy with blogs:

-List of fired bloggers:

-How to create a blog:



– EFF put together some rules for “safe” blogging:

-Logo Maker:

Questions: (What questions does this raise for them?)

-How does the proliferation of blogs affect police work and/or public safety?

-To what extend does the decrease in public reliance mainstream media affect police work? i.e., Technorati’s data showed that a growing percent of the web audience is less and less likely to distinguish a blog from, say,

-How does this new ease of professionalism affect police work? Are there any historical precedents? Lamination maybe?

-What about the continuing globalization of the Net (other languages becoming popular like Japanese etc)? Steganography as a way to hide messages.

Steganography site:

Social Networking:

How it grew further from blogs into newsfeeds:

-How to manage all the data from so many sources (RSS feeds, Atom, etc)

-Bookmark favorite pages (“social bookmarking”):

-Share web surfing real-time:


Other kinds of Social Networking:

For Jobs:

For Dating: (people’s friends help) (for AIDS)

For Families:

For over 50’s:

For cats and dogs:

Two leading all Purpose:



Cultural difference:

Facebook is the only one with an open platform for outside developers:

YouTube videos:


More on lonelygirl:


Photos used in commercial applications without permission:

Face recognition technology:

Social networking safety tips


Parry Aftab:

Community group helping police catch pedophiles (230 convictions so far):

Increase in health-related social networking sites:

For people with MS:

For all sorts of problems, including sexual abuse:

Police asking community for help in identifying dead bodies:

Dead white woman:

Use Facebook; go to jail?

Cannibalism example (meeting through and Internet Ad)?


-What are the ramifications about so much personal information being publicly available? How does it help? How does it hurt?

-The Internet has a long memory. What are the things people should think about before posting data?

-How does this long memory hurt or help police work?

-Who should be responsible for protecting people online? Example – a distraught person with cancer could be taken advantage of. Should government have rules; should the companies themselves do something?

-Can and should police be proactive? How to reach the right audience – what is the right audience?

-To what extend should people (including police agencies) be allowed to post whatever they want on the Net? What about suicide networking sites?

-To what extent does online community weaken meetspace community?

My very own Robosapien

My birthday is this month and my fiancé bought me a robot. It’s been a lot of fun — I especially like the fact that if you walk too close to it, it will scream. Its standard programming makes it tell you to “get your own coffee” so I’ll have to figure out how to change that…

Robosapiens on the Science Channel

There’s a cool looking program on the Science Channel today at 2pm. According to the site, the “film will closely examine the technologies that give hope to the disabled, allowing them to push beyond their limits and realize their potential.” Robots and humans begin to merge. This is not to be confused with the Wowee Robosapien robot. I DVR-ed the program and will watch it tonight.

Pleo: a really cute robot

Frequent readers of my blog will know that I’m a huge fan of robots and this past year seems to have been epic for their evolution. Check out this new one showcased at the recent Demo conference: the Pleo. The company says that although every Pleo begins life with certain tendencies, each bot eventually exhibits a unique personality. Cool. I want one.

Welcome to the robot world

Oh yeah – I want one of these.

Honda’s second-generation Asimo robot can run 6KM and hour (that’s 3.7 miles) and can carry drinks on a tray. Soon, it might be possible to feel as though you just landed in the middle of a Star Wars flick – bars with robot-waiters could be just around the corner! Advances in robotics are accelerating at an amazing clip. It wasn’t long ago that the biggest problem was just getting them to balance and not fall over.

Check out this Honda ad to see how flexible and natural this robot looks. Very cool! Thanks to Vince for pointing it out (and, yes, I know people who would be outrun by the robot as well…)