On the Robot Beat #3: replacing dolphins, Robot Combat League is a reality (show)

On the Robot Beat #3: replacing dolphins, Robot Combat League is a reality (show)

robot is something created by humans (directly or indirectly) that performs tasks (autonomously or not) done by humans (or, more broadly, by other animals…a robot dog, for example, would perform work done by living dogs, including providing companionship). 

The word may conjure up an image of a mechanical man, perhaps clunky and made of metal. The way we use the term at The Measured Circle, it would include software performing human tasks, and non-anthropomorphic devices like an answering machine or a calculator.

On the Robot Beat presents news about our creations that are, even in small ways, replacing us.

Roboxing becomes reality

We geeks know about fighting robots. Whether they were the non-humanoid style of Battlebots, the giant fictional mecha and Mechagodzilla, or Richard Matheson’s human boxer replacements (most recently on screen in Real Steel).

Now, they are going to be a reality.

On February 26, 2013, Syfy will debut a show with humanoid robots that will duke it out in a ring, controlled by shadow boxing robojockeys.

Yes, this is real…a reality show competition with a $100,000 prize. You can see some pictures and read the story here:

Entertainment Weekly article

The robots are all built by robot expert Mark Setrakian”s team. They’ll have different abilities, and look quite different from each other. The competition will be for the robojockeys, not the builders.

I have to say, I am so there on this! I’m going to try and keep my expectations low on the execution of it, but it should be fun to watch…and may give Syfy a hit (so the speak).

Navy to replace minesweeping dolphins with robots

Years ago, we heard about the CIA having a killer dolphin program…yes, real dolphins that could be used to kill enemy combatants (apparently, the dolphins didn’t know they were killing somebody, just that they were touching strangers with an apparatus).

Now, there is a new story that the US military is going to replace their current marine mammal mine sweeping program with robots:

Yahoo News article

BBC article

This article has a picture of the robot, the Knifefish:

Free Republic article

Although this probably wouldn’t replace the use of marine mammals in all military circumstances, it certainly seems like a good thing.

Human Rights Watch: “Ban ‘Killer Robots’ Before It’s Too Late”

While the Knifefish presumably wouldn’t be armed, if it was, and if it were able to autonomously (without human direction) decide to kill somebody, it would fall under a proposed ban on “killer robots”. In this

HRM aricle

they link to a document where they make the case against robots who are built with the ability to “decide” to kill somebody.

It’s an interesting document…and certainly sounds like something out of science fiction.

Of course, a booby trap with a tripwire kills someone without human direction…but it doesn’t decide who to kill and who not to kill. That makes me think more about this: is the issue that the robot decides or that somebody dies? It seems to be the former…which seems harder to support morally to me. Is it okay that devices (land mines, for example) kill people, as long as they do it indiscriminately? For example, would a land mine that detected that a person who stepped on it was an unarmed child and didn’t detonate be worse than one that detonated regardless of who stepped on it?

It’s clearly a complex issue…

Foxconn to address human working condition concerns by using robots

According to this

Reuters article

Foxconn, a company in China that is part of the supply for popular electronics goods, like iPads, is planning to increase the number of robots it is using in its factories from about 10,000 to about one million in three years.

The robots wouldn’t complain about working conditions or require the installation of suicide prevention nets (which supposedly happened at Foxconn).

The article also suggests this is partially to address rising labor costs. Comparing labor costs in China to those in the USA, and you might not think that’s a concern…but rising costs of anything can be a concern.

I presume that something like the

Baxter robot

would be in the running for this.

Again, this seems like a step forward…although you do wonder how the displaced workers would replace the income.

I think we really are at a place where the use of robots is diversifying rapidly. It’s a field where we are seeing a rapid evolution…and that sci-fi version of robots may be finally on its way to reality.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

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