Starwood Hotels Trials Robots That Make Deliveries to Guests
August 12th, 2014
Look out Rosie the Robot, Starwood Hotels’ Aloft brand has a taskmaster of its own.
His (or her?) name; A.L.O. pronounced “el-oh”, the hotels’ first Botlr (short of robotic butler.) Standing just under 3 feet tall, A.L.O. comes dressed in a vinyl-collared butler uniform and will soon be on call all day and night to fulfill requests from guests.
Forget your toothpaste? Need more towels? How about a late-night chocolate bar? All guests of the hotel have to do is call the front desk, where staff will load up the Botlr with requested items, punch in the guest’s room number and send it off to make the delivery, navigating hallways and even call for the elevator using Wi-Fi.
Posted in Economy, Rise of the Machines, Technology
Here’s an idea for an awesome dogfighting aircraft. Make it small, light, and fast. Build it out of materials that are hard to detect on radar. Even give it a laser cannon.
Oh, and don’t put a human in the cockpit. In fact, don’t even closely tie the drone to human ground control. Because in an aerial knife fight, a computer-controlled machine will beat a human pilot.
That’s the idea behind a controversial proposal by U.S. Air Force captain Michael Byrnes, an experienced Predator and Reaper drone pilot. Byrnes is calling for the development of a robotic dogfighter, which he calls the FQ-X, that could blow manned fighters out of the sky.
“A tactically autonomous, machine-piloted aircraft … will bring new and unmatched lethality to air-to-air combat,” Byrnes writes in Air and Space Power Journal.
In Byrnes’ conception, machines have the edge in making the lightning-fast decisions necessary to win a close-quarters aerial battle. “Humans average 200 to 300 milliseconds to react to simple stimuli, but machines can select or synthesize and execute maneuvers, making millions of corrections in that same quarter of a second,” he writes.
Byrnes focuses on famed fighter pilot John Boyd’s classic observe-orient-decide-act decision cycle — the “OODA loop” — which predicts that victory in combat belongs to the warrior who can assess and respond to conditions fastest.
Like a fighter pilot trying to out-turn his opponent in a dogfight, the trick to OODA is quickly making the right decisions while your enemy is still trying to figure out what’s going on.
It’s a battle of wits in which computers are superior, according to Byrnes. “Every step in OODA that we can do, they will do better.”
Byrnes envisions a drone designed from the start to utilize the full potential of an unmanned dogfighter. The FQ-X would be constructed of advanced, difficult-to-detect “metamaterials.” It would have extremely powerful computers that could determine an enemy aircraft’s position from even the scantest of sensor data.
“The principle of ‘first look, first kill’ belongs to the aircraft with the most processing power and the best software to leverage it,” Byrnes writes.
The FQ-X would also have multispectral optics and computer vision software that would enable it to distinguish friendly from enemy aircraft. The drone would pack a laser or a cannon firing armor-piercing incendiary rounds.
To sweeten the robot’s victory, on-board machine-learning systems would analyze the encounter and transmit tips to other combat drones.
It should be pretty obvious we’re not talking about some plodding, prop-driven Predator drone being steered by humans sitting in a trailer in Nevada, but rather a fast- and high-flying robot jet that functions without much need for human guidance.
“With FQ-X, autonomy for the conduct of the engagement would return to the air vehicle to take advantage of its superior processing speed and reaction times,” Byrnes proposes.
But there’s a tension in robotic warfare between the machines’ incredible speed and lethality and we human beings’ natural desire for direct control. Inserting a man into the loop inevitably limits a drone’s potential.
Without human control, we effectively grant robots licenses to kill.
Byrnes suggests breaking a dogfighting drone’s actions into different phases, including searching, stalking, closure, capture, and kill. Operator control would vary with the phase. And in the heat of direct combat, when milliseconds matter, the robot calls most of the shots.
It’s a bold proposal — one the Air Force as a whole has showed little interest in pursuing. Only the Navy has openly discussed adding air-to-air missiles to jet-powered drones. Considering the bureaucratic resistance, Byrnes worries that the flying branch could eventually have no choice but to borrow dogfighting robot technology from the sea service.
“Aviators may dislike it, the public will question it, science fiction imagines harbingers of the Cylon apocalypse and we are uncertain about how to best utilize it within the context of a larger Air Force,” he writes.
“Nevertheless, the FQ-X concept is too dangerous to our current thinking to ignore forever.”
New Watson-Style AI Called Viv Seeks To Be the First ‘Global Brain’
Posted by Soulskill on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @08:10PM
from the siri-why-does-my-cat-throw-up-so-much? dept.
paysonwelch sends this report from Wired on the next generation of consumer AI:
Google Now has a huge knowledge graph—you can ask questions like “Where was Abraham Lincoln born?” And it can name the city. You can also say, “What is the population?” of a city and it’ll bring up a chart and answer. But you cannot say, “What is the population of the city where Abraham Lincoln was born?” The system may have the data for both these components, but it has no ability to put them together, either to answer a query or to make a smart suggestion. Like Siri, it can’t do anything that coders haven’t explicitly programmed it to do.
Viv breaks through those constraints by generating its own code on the fly, no programmers required. Take a complicated command like “Give me a flight to Dallas with a seat that Shaq could fit in.” Viv will parse the sentence and then it will perform its best trick: automatically generating a quick, efficient program to link third-party sources of information together—say, Kayak, SeatGuru, and the NBA media guide—so it can identify available flights with lots of legroom.
Read the 40 comments
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Machines were going to usher in an age of wealth and enable humans to live in leisure. — RF
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Links from RiceFarmer.blogspot.com
Column by Glen Allport.
Exclusive to STR
Here’s a taste:
“… How long do we have? No one knows, in part because AI/ASI researchers are all over the globe in dozens of nations, and many efforts are being conducted in secrecy. Chillingly, much of the funding (perhaps the majority) is coming from military sources such as DARPA, with, one can only believe, the explicit intent to use machine intelligence to kill the enemy or to destroy the enemy’s infrastructure — which would, as we have sene in Iraq, kill thousands, millions, or (in, say, the United States or China) perhaps hundreds of millions of civilians. Another reason we can only guess at the time remaining in the Human Era is that for many types of thinking, machines are millions of times faster than humans and they never sleep. At the point where turning an AI into something a thousand times smarter than Einstein might take a human team decades, the AI itself might do the same job in minutes — and do it in the background, without people even noticing what was happening. We can say this with certainty: Time grows short…..”
Glen Allport co-authored The User’s Guide to OS/2 from Compute! Books and is the author of The Paradise Paradigm: On Creating a World of Compassion, Freedom, and Prosperity. He maintains paradise-paradigm.net. This is one in a series of columns on the human condition.
The slice by Gordon Allport noted above helps humanity keep the focus and phyxation on how Robin Williams died in perspective.
Isn’t it ironic that this film won the Oscar for Best Make-Up, and that it cost an estimated one hundred million to make the movie?
Andrew Martin: “… you can lose yourself. Everything. All boundaries. All time. That two bodies can become so mixed up, that you don’t know who’s who or what’s what. And just when the sweet confusion is so intense you think you’re gonna die… you kind of do. Leaving you alone in your separate body, but the one you love is still there. That’s a miracle. You can go to heaven and come back alive. You can go back anytime you want with the one you love.
Rupert Burns: And you want to experience that?
Andrew Martin: Oh, yes, please.
Andrew Martin: [Very fast] Two cannibals were eating a clown. One turns to the other and says “Does this taste funny to you?” How do you make a hanky dance? Put a little boogie in it! What is a brunette between two blondes? A translator! Do you know why blind people don’t like to sky-dive? It scares their dogs! A man with demensia is driving on the freeway. His wife calls him on the mobile phone and says “Sweetheart, I heard there’s someone driving the wrong way on the freeway.” He says “One? There’s hundreds!” What’s silent and smells like worms? Bird farts. It must have been an engineer who designed the human body. Who else would put a waste processing plant next to a recreation area? A woman goes into a doctor’s office, and the doctor says “Do you mind if I numb your breasts?” “Not at all.” *makes ‘motor-boating’ noise. “Num-num-num-num.”
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UPDATED Friday August 15th, 2914 with this additional tidbit
from Kevin @ Cryptogon:
August 15th, 2014
Here’s one for your This-Will-End-Badly file folder.
In current robotics research there is a vast body of work on algorithms and control methods for groups of decentralized cooperating robots, called a swarm or collective. These algorithms are generally meant to control collectives of hundreds or even thousands of robots; however, for reasons of cost, time, or complexity, they are generally validated in simulation only, or on a group of a few 10s of robots. To address this issue, we designed the Kilobot, a low-cost robot designed to make testing collective algorithms on hundreds or thousands (“kilos”) of robots accessible to robotics researchers. Each robot has the basic capabilities required for a swarm robot, but is made with low-cost parts, and is mostly assembled by an automated process. In addition, the system design allows a single user to easily and scalably operate a large Kilobot collective, such as programming, powering on, and charging all robots. systems.
We are now using the Kilobot swarm to investigate algorithms for robust collective behavior, such as collective transport, human-swarm interaction, and shape self-assembly, as well as new theory that links individual robot capabilities to acheivable swarm behaviors. See our publications and movies to learn more about this research.