I was on the phone recently with a large multinational corporate investor discussing the applications for robotics in the energy market. He expressed his frustration about the lack of products to inspect and repair active oil and gas pipelines, citing too many catastrophic accidents. His point was further endorsed by a Huffington Postarticle that reported in a twenty-year period such tragedies have led to 534 deaths, more than 2,400 injuries, and more than $7.5 billion in damages. The study concluded that an incident occurs every 30 hours across America’s vast transcontinental pipelines.
Europe is gearing up to launch an Artificial Intelligence Public Private Partnership (AI PPP) that brings together AI, data, and robotics. At its core is a drive to lead the world in the development and deployment of trustworthy AI based on EU fundamental rights, principles and values.
From flocks of birds to fish schools in the sea, or towering termite mounds, many social groups in nature exist together to survive and thrive. This cooperative behaviour can be used by engineers as “bio-inspiration” to solve practical human problems, and by computer scientists studying swarm intelligence.
As early as Homer, more than 2,500 years ago, Greek mythology explored the idea of automatons and self-moving devices. By the third century B.C., engineers in Hellenistic Alexandria, in Egypt, were building real mechanical robots and machines. And such science fictions and historical technologies were not unique to Greco-Roman culture.
The International Federation of Robotics (IFR), at a press conference here last week, announced preliminary 2018 figures for the industrial sector of the robotics industry. Last year set another record — but just barely. It was only up 1% over 2017. No information was given about service and field robotics.
It’s been two years since the last time I judged the Automate Startup Competition. More than any other trade show contest, this event has been an oracle of future success. In following up with the last vintage of participants, all of the previous entrees are still operating and many are completing multi-million dollar financing rounds. As an indication of the importance of the venue, and quite possibly the growth of the industry, The Robot Report announced last week that 2017 finalist, Kinema Systems was acquired by SoftBank’s Boston Dynamics.
As part of our programme of international science and policy dialogue about AI, last year we worked with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to bring together leading researchers from across disciplines to consider the implications of AI for equality, transparency, and democracy.
My feet are aching, as usual, after 3 days on the CES show floor, and the question people always ask others there is “what have you seen that was interesting?”
I won’t say I didn’t see anything interesting, and I had a large number of rewarding conversations with all sorts of companies, making the trip very worthwhile, but I will say I saw less that was new and exciting than ever before. This may be a result of the show’s constant growth that meant in 3 days I still did not manage to get to 3 1/2 major rooms of the show, putting my focus on cars as I usually do.
Earlier this month, I crawled into Dr. Wendy Ju‘s autonomous car simulator to explore the future of human-machine interfaces at CornellTech’s Tata Innovation Center. Dr. Ju recently moved to the Roosevelt Island campus from Stanford University. While in California, the roboticist was famous for making videos capturing people’s reactions to self-driving cars using students disguised as “ghost-drivers” in seat costumes. Professor Ju’s work raises serious questions of the metaphysical impact of docility.
I have been doing research on intelligence for 30 years. Like most of my colleagues, I did not get involved in the field with the aim of producing technological objects, but because I have an interest in the the abstract nature of the notion of intelligence. I wanted to understand intelligence. That’s what science is: Understanding.