We all know that they’re making great strides in robotics these days. There’s the humanoid robots Sony and Honda have been showing off for the past few years, for instance. Cute little QRIO here is quite seriously conducting a Beethoven symphony:
For some REAL creepy fun, download this movie of four QRIOs performing a Japanese dance. For some reason, the most unsettling moment for me is at one minute, 45 seconds in, when a female spectator (spectatrix?) gets up and walks off and you realize just how tiny these ‘bots are. Little mechanical homunculi placidly obeying our every irrational whim.
And then of course there’s the escape-artist robot:
The small unit, called Gaak, was one of 12 taking part in a “survival of the fittest” test at the Magna science centre in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, which has been running since March.
Gaak made its bid for freedom yesterday after it had been taken out of the arena where hundreds of visitors watch the machines learning as they do daily battle for minor repairs.
Professor Noel Sharkey said he turned his back on the drone and returned 15 minutes later to find it had forced its way out of the small make-shift paddock it was being kept in.
He later found it had travelled down an access slope, through the front door of the centre and was eventually discovered at the main entrance to the car park when a visitor nearly flattened it with his car.
Fun! And then how could anyone forget the meat-eating robot?
Chris Melhuish and his team of robotics experts at the University of the West of England in Bristol are developing a robot that catches flies and digests them in a special reactor cell that generates electricity. […] Called EcoBot II, the robot is part of a drive to make “release and forget” robots that can be sent into dangerous or inhospitable areas to carry out remote industrial or military monitoring of, say, temperature or toxic gas concentrations.
The end result of all this research – self-sustaining, unrestrainable robo-monkeys hungry for the flesh of their creators – is so obvious it barely deserves mention. Where we really need to turn our eye now is to the counterattack.
Since real monkeys will be just as much a delicious target as our species, they’ll have a vested interest in defeating our foul creations. By, of course, becoming our foul creations. “The only thing that can save us now,” humanity will say, “is an army of monkeys controlling robotic arms with their minds.”
A series of electrodes containing tiny wires were implanted about a millimeter deep into the brains of two monkeys. A computer then recorded signals produced by the monkeys’ brains as they manipulated a joystick controlling the robotic arm in exchange for a reward — sips of juice.
The joystick was later unplugged and the arm, which was in a separate room, was controlled directly by the brain signals coming from the implants. The monkeys eventually stopped using the joystick, as if they knew their brains were controlling the robot arm, Duke University researcher Miguel Nicolelis said.
If for some reason sips of juice fail to keep our simian saviors on task and on our side, luckily we’ve got the cure for that too: remote-control implants that control animals with pleasure.
Then a member of the scientific team, using a laptop computer, remotely stimulated the microprocessor to send an electrical signal through one cue wire or the other. The rat “felt” a touch to the corresponding set of whiskers, as though it had come in contact with an obstacle.
If the rat responded by turning in the desired direction, the controller encouraged the animal with a brief electrical pulse to its brain’s reward center. The rat would feel a sensation of pleasure.
And the best part about that is, if the robo-monkeys manage to use that technology against us, it’s pretty much win-win all around.
(Mmmmmmm… pleasure center.)