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by   -   March 18, 2014

I’m on the road today but was excited to discover that ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) named Leslie Lamport, a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, as the recipient of the 2013 ACM Alan .M. Turing Award for imposing clear, well-defined coherence on the seemingly chaotic behavior of distributed computing systems, in which several autonomous computers communicate with each other by passing messages.  He devised important algorithms and developed formal modeling and verification protocols that improve the quality of real distributed systems.  These contributions have resulted in improved correctness, performance, and reliability of computer systems.

The ACM Turing Award, widely considered the “Nobel Prize in Computing,” carries a $250,000 prize, with financial support provided by Intel Corporation and Google Inc.

Congratulations Leslie – more on the ACM website.

by   -   March 18, 2014

At previous MODEX events – trade shows exhibiting the latest manufacturing and supply chain equipment and technologies - Kiva had their own boothes. Big boothes with lots of people marveling at their orange robots. Today at MODEX, those orange robots were moving to a different drummer.

by   -   March 17, 2014

Five robotic, artificial intelligence or drone -related reads for Monday 17th March:

  1. Victor, an emotional Scrabble playing robot who is very insecure. The Wall Street Journal.
  2. How the science of robotics is being used for religious purpose in Iran. The Independent.
  3. US lags as commercial drones take off around globe. Associated Press.
  4. The brief rise and long fall of Russia’s Military Robots… could be resurrected. Popular Science.
  5. We have entered ‘the post normal world.’ Pew Report.

What are you reading?

by   -   March 15, 2014


A Wintergreen Research report says that the rehabilitation robot market will grow from $43.3 million to $1.8 billion by 2020 as a result of the effectiveness of robotic treatment methods.

by   -   March 14, 2014

Dr Carl Frey and Dr Michael Osborne recently made headlines around the world with their Oxford Martin School study - The Future of Employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerization?, which showed that nearly half of US jobs could be at risk of being replaced through automation.

by   -   March 14, 2014


Are telepresence robots really robotic? Is the da Vinci robotic surgical system robotic? Is a car with adaptive cruise control acting robotically? Well … no to all three questions.

All three are borderline cases and examples of robotics in a transition state and being affected by two converging robotics-related trends:

  • Toward more capable and lower-cost robots, and
  • Towards physically-responsive smart devices.

by   -   March 12, 2014


Henrik A. Schunk, Managing Partner of SCHUNK GmbH & Co. KG, and Chairman of EUnited Robotics – European Robotics Association

The continuing interest of Google in robotics over the last years and its newest activities in this regard confirms what all players active in robotics will confirm: service robotics is on the threshold of entering a new maturity level. Service robotics conquers new, commercial fields of application and is just becoming an independent industrial sector.

by   -   March 12, 2014

It’s the top-of-mind question for every would-be entrepreneur, and with the Robot Launch 2014 competition deadline coming up on March 30, it’s an especially fitting question to pose to our panelists this month.

So how do you get from imagination to market? Here’s what our experts have to say …

by and   -   March 10, 2014

My workday is over. What do I want to do now? I picture calling my wife to suggest dinner at that nice Italian restaurant and imagine the taste of gnocchi quattro formaggi. Then I remember promising to look after the grandchildren that evening. My colleague at the desk next to me has no idea of this rich world unfolding in my head. This is the world that I call my consciousness, my mental state, my mind, or my thoughts. It is comfortably private, and I cannot imagine having an intelligent life without it. My behavior and pronouncements are but the tip of the iceberg that is my consciousness. Is this consciousness something that can be replicated? In our quest to build smarter computers and robots, will we one day develop machines that have an internal mental life comparable to our own?

by   -   March 7, 2014
BlackSheep_DroneOr perhaps the better question is: who’s willing to be the test case?
A US federal court judge ruled against the FAA yesterday in their case against Raphael Pirker (the first and only person fined for flying a drone for commercial purposes), throwing the question of the legality of commercial drone use on its head. The ruling highlights the lack of regulatory structure for US commercial drones, something the FAA seems intent on delaying, as evidence by their plans to appeal the court’s decision.

by   -   March 7, 2014


Statue of Alan Turing. Photo credit: Neil Crosby

In the last few days we’ve seen a spate of headlines like 2029: the year when robots will have the power to outsmart their makers, all occasioned by an Observer interview with Google’s newest director of engineering Ray Kurzweil.

Much as I respect Kurzweil’s achievements as an inventor, I think he is profoundly wrong.

by   -   March 6, 2014

The incoming second wave of contextual agents

RobotsEiffelTowerThere’s a virtual lobby of Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs) waiting to help us these days. These multi-million dollar systems include Yahoo’s Donna, Samsung’s SAMI, Google’s Now, Nuance’s Nina, Motorola’s Assist, Microsoft’s Cortana and of course Apple’s Siri. They can give you driving directions, book a dinner table, launch an app, tell a joke, take a memo, send a text, post a tweet, ring a phone, update Facebook, check stocks, search the web, turn off the lights when you go to bed, and set an alarm to wake you up in the morning. They can do incredible things, but they’re not very valuable for one weird and very general reason.

by   -   March 6, 2014

After laughing uncomfortably at the headline from The Moscow Times reporting about the recent Skolkovo Robotics Conference, I parsed through the wording and found the intended meaning. But that process … from shock and incongruity, to amusement, through multiple second thoughts and a bit of research, to an understanding of the headline … is the same process I went through as I participated in and spoke at the conference.

My interpretation of that headline – removing any sense of political rhetoric1 – is that robots are getting cheaper and becoming more available to average consumers. This was one facet of the conference and exhibition, but not the main goal.

by   -   March 5, 2014


The world may be a harsh critic, but most good ideas die because they are given too much love. If you’ve got a startup or project, you’re probably loving it to death right now, and your friends and family are supporting you in this too. But the more time you spend working on your project, the more likely you are to kill it. And this is exactly why you should enter Robot Launch 2014.

by   -   March 5, 2014


Bayes’ Theorem in neon. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The ‘system’ behind the Google robotic cars … which have driven themselves for hundreds of thousands of miles on the streets of several US states without being involved in an accident, or violating any traffic law, all the while analyzing enormous quantities of data fed to a central onboard computer from radar sensors, cameras and laser-range finders and taking the most optimal, efficient and cost effective route … is built upon the 18th-century math theorem known as Bayes’ Rule.

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