AI News, 2014 Robot Gift Guide

2014 Robot Gift Guide

Butwe’re limiting ourselves to things that you can plausibly purchaseright now(or soon), which means that things like Kickstarter are out of the running.And while we provide links to places where youcanget these robots, we’re not endorsing anyin particular, and a little bit of searching may result in better deals.(All prices in US dollars.) Lastly,if you think we missed the best robot thing (or things) of the year, let us know in the comments.

The reason we like it, though, is that Orbotix has been great about giving developers access to their robots, and there’s a bunch of available software that you can use to progam Ollie and make it do things that are actually, you know, robotic.

They spent a ridiculous amount of time and money putting it together, and we’re excited to see it perform: with the powerful guts that all Dyson vacuums are known for combined with 360 degree visual localization, it might have a chance to bestRoomba’s multi-pass cleaning method in both efficiency and effectiveness.You might have some trouble finding the 360 Eye before 2015, but the best chance to get one is to be in Japan, which apparently is where the vacuum will go on sale first.

Their latest is the Scooba 450, which improves on its floor-scrubbing predecessors by adding a vacuum, so that it can completely clean your kitchen floor: first it vacuums, then it soaks, then it scrubs, then it rinses and squeegees.

The Beam+ takesmuch of what made the BeamPro so good and makes it a little bit smaller and a whole lot cheaper, and from what we’ve seen, it’s the best telepresence experience you’ll ever get at that price point.

We first met it at CES four years ago,andthey’ve since released a new version, but the idea is still the same: the WheeMedrives up and down your back while its body vibrates and its four sprocket wheels press on your skin.

An easy-to-useiPad app works as the main interface for controlling the robots, which canmove, detect obstacles, and emit sounds.The robots are“designed for kids aged 5 to infinity.” Darwin-OP, the $12,000 humanoid created by Dennis Hong of UCLA and South Korean robotics company ROBOTIS, isperfectfor education and research, but too advanced (and costly) for hobbyists and consumers.

Its 27-centimeter-tall body is packed with16 Dynamixel actuators, which means it can perform some impressive maneuvers for such a small robot, including throwing punches, kicking a ball, and doing somersaults.

It’ll talk to you, understand your emotions, and be your friend.Aldebaran says that their ultimate goal is “for Pepper to live with humans” (that’s you!) and while Pepper’s initial home will be in SoftBank and Nescaféstores, it will (reportedly) be on sale in Japan early next year for an incomprehensibly low price.

LittleArm Is a Little Robot with a Little PriceTag

I’m such a sucker for little robot arms and animals.

It doesn’t matter where I am, if I see an articulated bot I can’t help but go watch, and judging by the crowds I’m typically joining, I suspect many others feel the same way.

It usually retails for $115, but I noticed they’ve got a holiday special going right now for $95.

And since about a third of the units were going to schools, we immediately started building out the website to provide tutorials and teaching resources for teachers.

Gabe has found that many of these have gone to schools, so he’s now working with teachers to come up with an educational curriculum as well as a redesigned version that can handle a bit more abuse from children.

How robots, artificial intelligence, and machine learning will affect employment and public policy

While emerging technologies can improve the speed, quality, and cost of available goods and services, they may also displace large numbers of workers.  This possibility challenges the traditional benefits model of tying health care and retirement savings to jobs.  In an economy that employs dramatically fewer workers, we need to think about how to deliver benefits to displaced workers.  The impacts of automation technologies are already being felt throughout the economy.

The worldwide number of industrial robots has increased rapidly over the past few years.  The falling prices of robots, which can operate all day without interruption, make them cost-competitive with human workers.  In the service sector, computer algorithms can execute stock trades in a fraction of a second, much faster than any human.  As these technologies become cheaper, more capable, and more widespread, they will find even more applications in an economy.

If automation technologies like robots and artificial intelligence make jobs less secure in the future, there needs to be a way to deliver benefits outside of employment.  “Flexicurity,” or flexible security, is one idea for providing healthcare, education, and housing assistance whether or not someone is formally employed.  Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, providing a guaranteed basic income, and encouraging corporate profit-sharing are some ideas that need to be considered in the case of persistent unemployment.  Perhaps the most provocative question raised by the paper is how people will choose to spend their time outside of traditional jobs.  “Activity accounts” could finance lifelong education or volunteering for worthy causes.

2017 Was the Year the Robots Really, Truly Arrived

"It's only recently that both computers have become smart enough and that robot hardware has become reliable enough that the very first products start to emerge.” Perhaps the biggest leap in hardware has been sensor technology.

“I kind of talk about this finally being the golden age of robotics, and that means that for the first time in the last 12 months or so you see robots really becoming prolific,” says Ben Wolff, CEO of Sarcos Robotics, which makes the most bonkers robot arms you’ve ever seen.

“And I think it's because we're finally at that crossover point, where the cost has come down of components while the capability of the components has increased sufficiently.” Like, come down big time.

It ain’t perfect, which is why a human handler follows the robot to remote-control it when it gets in trouble (when WIRED got a demo in April, it nearly ran down a dog).

Luckily, better chips mean all of these calculations can now happen aboard the machine, as opposed to giant computers doing the processing in the cloud.

Our human brains tend to anthropomorphize anything that remotely seems like an intelligent agent, so it's tempting to form bonds with the machines, especially when they’re “cute” and “lovable.” I mean, back in August it happened to me: I told a robot I loved it just to get its attention.

At some point, the manufacturer might exploit that relationship by having the doll ask the kid if they want an over-the-air update that’d make the robot even more fun—for the low, low price of $49.99.

But as someone who’s experienced the surprising psychological draw of robots, I want to make this clear: The robot-human relationship is bizarre and fraught with potential misadventures.

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