Thursday, 16 June 2011

Micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Here's a video to show some of the work going on at the GRASP research labs at the University of Pennsylvania. Work has been done on trying to generate dynamically feasible trajectories and controllers to guide the quadrotor through space. It is shown making aggressive manouveurs through small gaps and slipping between other quadrotors. The work looks at developing families of trajectories each built up as sequences of smaller trajectories each with their own individual controller. It's interesting work and it is hoped to be of use in surveillance and search and rescue operations. It's more likely (definite) however that it will be used for "defense" purposes.

Anyway enjoy the video.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Can robots know what's right and wrong

Here's an interesting little video on the bbc website that talks about the need to think about how we will deal with robots making decisions and the ethics involved. Do you think robots will be capable of making ethical decisions in the future and who will be accountable for their actions?

Can robots know the difference between right and wrong?

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The Brain Prosthesis Experiment

Here's an interesting thought experiment for you to think about.

If we replaced the neurons in your brain one at a time with identically functioning electronic substitute neurons, gradually transforming your brain from biological to electronical, would your concious experience differ?

Answers on a postcard.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Stepfather Factory

Here's a video I've always loved. It's actually about the rapper's own experience with an abusive stepfather but also comments on consumerism and on a surface level brings up questions about ethics in building technology. How well will they be made? Who will be able to make them? How safe will they be? How can we control all of this?

Friday, 10 June 2011

Data Mining

Artificial Intelligence comes in many guises, it is not only for robots and self-aware computers. One of the things it is used for is to search for patterns in huge reams of data. This is called Data Mining. In fact data is now considered very valuable and people who know how to mine data to find patterns and help clients improve their businesses are well sought after.

This is not just as simple as looking for a line of best fit among a few hundred data points. The data been dealt with in data mining can be on the order of billions of data points with many attributes living on a high dimensional plane. There are many known techniques for extracting useful knowledge from such a vast amount of information but many new techniques are still been researched today.

In short Data Mining is all about finding unsuspected relationships and sumarizing data in new ways to give insights to the owner (of the data) and allow them to understand it better. One problem is that the data is not always collected primarily for data mining (although it is more and more so these days) so there are sometimes some issues in transforming the data for use. Another is that it is key that a human can interpret the output so that it can be put to use.

In future posts I will detail a few major usages and users of Data Mining.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The Evolution of Technology

Here's a pretty interesting video I found today depicting the evolution of technology using imagery of evolution in the animal kingdom. It's an advertisement for a German technology company called Saturn. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Ghost In The Shell: a gaze into the future

Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex is an anime series based on a manga written by Masamune Shirow. The anime is set in Japan in the near future, the year 2030, and deals with issues of cyber-terrorism and the future of Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Technology. The series deals with philosophical issues both about the nature of AI and timeless problems such as that of existence and as such may require multiple watches to really appreciate.

The main storyline involves investigation into a case of corporate terrorism perpetrated by a genius hacker which leads down a path uncovering wide-scale corruption in the government and technology companies. There are many individual episodes as well which stand alone and can be watched separately.

There are many themes such as cyborgs, technological enhancements of the human body and whether robots can really gain artificial intelligence that I will talk about in later blog postings. The name of the anime comes from the concept of been able to lift someone's spirit (ghost) from their body (shell) and place it in a full cyborg body (another (robotic) shell) of which the main character (the Major) is an example of. This is a really interesting concept and I wonder if it or something like it may become reality one day. I'll leave this for another post.

You should check it out for yourself though. It really is an interesting program and provokes a lot of thought.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Programmable Matter

The future is going to be great. We'll have many things we can't even dream of but there are many things we can. One of those is programmable matter and one place they are researching this is at Carnegie Mellon University in America. Programmable matter will be an object that can change its form into anything it chooses by rearranging its constituent components (very simple small robots). They call it Claytronics. For now the problem is still in its early stages and researchers are still dealing with how to reconfigure modules of a robot on a larger scale. The aim however is to scale it down to the nano-scale where each robot is nearly as small as an atom. The robots then work together to replicate an object and can turn into whatever you choose. Maybe you don't like how your table looks today, well then just redesign it on the fly.

The idea can be extended passed just solid objects, it could extend to working devices too. An interesting device to have in the future would be a do-all gadget, a gadget that can turn into anything – this may be harder to achieve and need advancement in other sciences but I think it's attainable. Think of the iPhone 56 – one minute you are using it to make a phone call, the next shooting away, pumping lead into a T-1000. Well maybe not, Apple probably won't let that app through the appstore.

Here's a cheesy concept video that was made to portray what the future may be like with Claytronics. However, I'm sure your imagination can envision it much better.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Introducing Nao

Here I introduce to you the Nao robot of which I will definitely talking more about in the future. This video is a little old but it showcases what the robot can do and is a little amusing.

It is a medium sized humanoid robot built by the Aldebaran Robotics company and can be used as a base to practice Machine Learning techniques,  design robot AI or just to play with. The company sells it as an educational tool at the moment allowing people to research on it but hopes to launch it to the public in the near future. One of it's uses is in the Robocup - a football world cup for robots - which I'll detail more in later posts.

One great thing about the robot is that it provides a common platform for researchers to develop new techniques on. This allows people to just worry about the software part rather than the hardware and allows researchers to build on the work of others.

Anyway, here's the video.

Friday, 3 June 2011

An Introduction

Hello everyone. This is my first post so I thought I'd start by introducing myself and my blog, telling you a little about what I'm going to write here.

I do artificial intelligence research dealing with robotics and machine learning and am interested in many things to do with artificial intelligence. The purpose of this blog is to write down my thoughts on the subject, talk about popular aspects of AI and let people know what's going on in the world of AI. It will also act as a place where I can meet people and discuss the topics, so feel free to comment, critisize or discuss anything I write about.

The topics I cover may include:
  • everyday AI: how AI affects your world
  • fun: fun ways AI is been used
  • future: speculation about how the future will be shaped by AI
  • AI research
  • recent news
  • fiction: book reviews and maybe even original writing
  • technical: how to program a certain AI technique or how to deal with a problem
Thanks for reading and I hope to see you around.