When Fiction No Longer Is Fictional

Technology is developing at a break neck speed as computer technology continues to develop at what seems to be a faster pace each year.  Just “the other day” I thought I was totally cool when I installed a 20 MB hard drive in my advanced XT system!  LOL.  Now I’ve got some images on my computer that are bigger than that. The technological leaps and bounds are making pretty neat things possible.

There’s a robot called “Rubot” that solves the Rubik’s Cube and when he’s done, he puts the cube down.  It’s pretty simple but is that the start of self awareness, when he knows he’s done?  Nah, just a subroutine designed to recognize that all sides of the cube are now the same color.

As a programmer myself, I can tell you that the outline or premise of such a set of conjoined programs is not that hard to write.  What takes the time are the nuances of getting everything to work together.  Shape recognition.  Object manipulation.  Decision tree responses.  Well, you get the point.

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The Tartan Racing Automated Vehicle

Forget K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) held a contest called The DARPA Urban Challenge where companies like the one I work for compete for the top award and find out whose car can navigate an urban environment loaded with robot and human-occupied cars on simulated roads.

These cars are set to go and the only control the scientists have are emergency-stop overrides just in case the automobiles go rogue.  The Stanford car took 2nd.  The Tartan Racing GM truck won this particular contest that these images came from.

Notice the big time sponsors on these vehicles?  Everyone is in on it.  And despite the big cash prize, I’m betting that DARPA then hired the winning team for future projects that civilians won’t be privy to for some time.  Just my guess, but trust me, it’s a well educated guess.

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Here, we have robot fish that were set loose and programmed to come together and swim together in a school.  Like real fish do by instinct.

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Speaking Of Instinct:

This robot “dog” was programmed to walk, and retain its balance.  In the above image, the man just gave the robot a pretty good shove with his foot and the ‘bot is adjusting its legs to retain its balance.

This machine is “taught” to stay upright, and through various subroutines, uses its legs in a combination of predetermined moves to keep it upright.  If I stretch my imagination towards the doomed future we see in the movies, then for something like this to go awry wouldn’t take to much work for a disgruntled employee to insert a subroutine that says:

If man comes at me
..determine if he will kick me
….if man is going to kick me,
……kick man first

And suddenly, we have troubles at Boston Dynamics.

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