Robot News

Recent News Stories and Video

boston“Some people call the robots “cute” or “brilliant,” but others are terrified, wondering when the bots will turn violent. “Well… I guess humans are obsolete now,” one commenter on Youtube said. “They’re coming to murder us,” said another. Others pointed out the robots’ similarity to the “Black Mirror” episode called “Metalhead.” The show’s creator told Entertainment Weekly in an interview that the episode was, indeed, inspired by the Boston Dynamics robots.” “Boston Dynamics’ Creepy Robot Dogs are Back — and They’re Working Together Now.” Source: Boston Globe (L. Ruckstuhl, 12 Feb 2018)


12FACES-2-blog427-v2“But the darker the skin, the more errors arise — up to nearly 35 percent for images of darker skinned women, according to a new study that breaks fresh ground by measuring how the technology works on people of different races and gender. These disparate results, calculated by Joy Buolamwini, a researcher at the M.I.T. Media Lab, show how some of the biases in the real world can seep into artificial intelligence, the computer systems that inform facial recognition.” “Facial Recognition Is Accurate, if You’re a White Guy.” Source: New York Times (S. Lohr, 9 Feb 2018)


Execs“Google has responded to these controversies in a process akin to Whac-A-Mole: expanding the army of human moderators, removing offensive YouTube videos identified by journalists and de-monetising the channels that create them. But none of those moves has diminished a growing concern that something has gone profoundly awry with the artificial intelligence powering YouTube.” “Fiction is Outperforming Reality’: How YouTube’s Algorithm Distorts Truth.” Source: The Guardian (P. Lewis, 2 Feb 2018)


Sweatcoin“And even if you do take enough steps, they may not add up as quickly as you think. Sweatcoin doesn’t count any “indoor” steps so your treadmill time and gym classes won’t count. Also, the app typically counts far fewer steps than other fitness-tracking apps (the company says this is to deter potential cheaters).” Download This: Sweatcoin’s App Pays You to Exercise.” Source: Mashable (K.Bell 27 Jan 2018).


Globe and Mail1“Amidst the chatter, however, visible minority users quickly discovered that the app did a poor job matching them. East Asian users were matched with caricatures or generic Asian faces, while others found no match at all, prompting criticism that the app was, if not exactly racist, then at least biased. Here again, the choices made in designing a technology had led to some people being able to revel in seeing themselves, but left others to look into a mirror and see no reflection. It highlights a growing issue in which the increasing importance of technology in our lives is also accompanied by a troubling set of blind spots and biases that manifest through how tech is designed. “Google’s Arts and Culture App and the Damaging Bias of Technology.” Source: The Globe and Mail (N. Alang, 26 Jan 2018)



“In the winter of 1906, the year San Francisco was destroyed by an earthquake and SOS became the international distress signal, Britain’s Punch magazine published a dark joke about the future of technology. […] A caption reads: “These two figures are not communicating with one another. The lady is receiving an amatory message, and the gentleman some racing results. “Your Smartphone Is Making You Stupid, Antisocial and Unhealthy. So Why Can’t You Put It Down?” Source: The Globe and Mail (E. Andrew-Gee, 6 Jan 2018/Updated 16 Jan).


180107-godfrey-robot-grief-hero_oedtxyThe internet has made grieving easier: Website memorials, communal grieving across social media, online messenger services offering support—they’ve all made bereavement more social, more accessible, less taboo. To Muhammad Ahmad, though, what might seem like the digital age of mourning feels dated. Ahmad wants to radically transform how we mourn. “The Griefbot That Could Change How We Mourn.” Source: The Daily Beast (C. Godfrey, 12 Jan 2018)


180112-lorenz-ces-recap-embed-1_tcufjw“There’s a woman in Sweden named Simone Giertz who makes a living building shitty robots. Her well-intentioned creations fail comically at waking her up, brushing her teeth, washing her hair, applying lipstick, and making her breakfast. At CES in 2018, any number of these robots would have been right at home.” CES Was Full of Useless Robots and Machines That Don’t Work.” Source: The Daily Beast (T. Lorenz, 12 Jan 2018)


Simone Giertz

“Simone Giertz’s morning routine involves a lot of really bad robots. They fail miserably at waking her up, brushing her teeth and making her breakfast. The 25-year-old Swedish robot enthusiast has parlayed their failures into a very successful YouTube channel, and full-time job. Watch the video above to see some of her best (or rather, worst) robotic creations.” “Queen of Shitty Robots“. Source: Quartz (J.Templin, video).


‘Managed by an algorithm in a merciless world’: Jaime Christley’s recent essay tells a different story than proclaimed on this New York billboard.“For me, the tech stories of 2017 turned out not to be really tech stories at all. Mostly they were about politics, as the non-tech world woke up to the fact that this digital stuff really affected them. As, for example, when they realised that for a mere $30,000 the Russians could beam subtle political messages to as many as 126 million US voters in an election year without anyone (including Facebook) apparently noticing. Or when big consumer brands suddenly realised that it wasn’t a good idea to have their ads running on YouTube alongside beheading or white supremacist videos. Or when parents woke up to the fact that not everything running on the YouTube Kids channel was wholesome or harmless.” Source: It’s Time To Face The Facts About Our Digital World. The Guardian. (J. Naughton 31 Dec 2017).


Killerrobots“Despite these developments, 2017 was effectively a ‘lost year’ for international diplomatic efforts to retain meaningful human control of weapons systems, compared to the tentative advances made in 2014-2016. It is fast becoming a cliché that technological advances are bounding ahead while diplomacy moves at a glacial pace. The December 2016 decision by the 125 states parties to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) to formalize their deliberations on killer robots raised expectations that these talks would become more substantive and raised the expectation that they will conclude in a meaningful outcome. Yet this was not realized.” Source: 2017: A Lost Year For Diplomacy. Campaign To Stop Killer Robots (22 Dec 2017).


K9 bot“For the [San Fransisco] SPCA, the security robot, which they’ve dubbed K9, was a way to try dealing with the growing number of needles, car break-ins and crime that seemed to emanate from nearby tent encampments of homeless people along the sidewalks. […] The people in the encampments showed their displeasure with the robot’s presence at least once. Within about a week of the robot starting its automated route along the sidewalks, some people setting up a camp ‘put a tarp over it, knocked it over and put barbecue sauce on all the sensors,’ [SPCA president Jennifer] Scarlett said.” Source: Security Robot That Deterred Homeless Encampments in the Mission Gets Rebuke From The City. San Fransisco Business Times (A. Green 8 Dec 2017).


“Jibo the robot swivels around when it hears its name and tilts its touchscreen face upward, expectantly. ‘I am a robot, but I am not just a machine,’ it says. ‘I have a heart. Well, not a real heart. But feelings. Well, not human feelings. You know what I mean.’ Actually, I’m not sure we do. And that’s what unsettles me about the wave of “sociable robots” that are coming online. The new releases include Jibo, Cozmo, Kuri and M.A.X. Although they bear some resemblance to assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa (Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post), these robots come with an added dose of personality. They are designed to win us over not with their smarts but with their sociability. They are marketed as companions. And they do more than engage us in conversation — they feign emotion and empathy.” Source: Why These Friendly Robots Can’t Be Good Friends To Our Kids. The Washington Post (S. Turkle 7 Dec 2017).


Matt McMullen, the Realbotix founder.“If you’ve ever wondered what a life-sized mechanical sex toy called Harmony looks like reciting the lyrics to Thriller with all the passion of Alexa ordering the shopping, then The Sex Robots Are Coming (Channel 4) has got it covered. This fascinatingly bleak documentary explored the question of just how close humans and machines are going to get, and looks at the burgeoning sex robot industry, which one day hopes to create life-like rubber women who will talk and show pre-programmed emotions, but only if they are more obedient, passive and pliable than the irritatingly free-willed real thing.” Source: The Sex Robots Are Coming Review — Who’d Have Thought They’d Have A Soft Scottish Accent? The Guardian (R. Nicholson 1 Dec 2017).


James with Harmony, the sex robot“Channel 4 is having an AI season, which sounds grand until you tentatively dip your toe into the cyber-water only to discover that, in at least one case, this is nothing more than an excuse for a little light prurience and voyeurism. Shame, then, on the person – a man, surely? – who commissioned it. He must have sat through The Sex Robots Are Coming (30 November, 10pm), an investigation into the world of robots designed specifically for the purposes of sterile humping, and thought nothing of its nauseating content, of how in some 55 minutes of television we heard from only one critical voice. As he did so, what on Earth went through his head? On second thoughts, perhaps we’d better not get into that.” Source: The Sex Robots Are Coming Is Nothing More Than Prurience and Voyeurism. The New Statesman (R. Cooke 1 Dec 2017).


“There is a wealth of literature demonstrating that even the ‘best’ automated decision-making models generate an unacceptable number of errors when predicting rare events. On the scale of the American population and immigration rates, criminal acts are relatively rare, and terrorist acts are extremely rare […] As a result, even the most accurate possible model would generate a very large number of false positives.” Source: Algorithm May Decide Who Is A Contributing Member Of Society. The Daily Beast (K. Weill 19 Nov 2017).


Article Image“It doesn’t have to be this way, but for now it is: AI’s primary purpose is to maximize profits. For all of the predictions of its benefits to society, right now, that’s just window-dressing—a pie-in-the-sky vision of a world we don’t actually inhabit. While some like Elon Musk issue dire warnings against finding ourselves beneath the silicon thumbs of robot overlords, the fact is we’re already under threat. As long as AI is dedicated to economic goals and not societal concerns, its tunnel vision is a problem. And as so often seems to be the case these days, the benefits will go to the already wealthy and powerful.” Source: A.I. Will Serve Humans, But Only About 1% Of Them. Big Think (R. Berman 15 Nov 2017).


“This dystopian nightmare might not be that farfetched, some academics warn, given the rise of big data, advances in machine learning, and — most worryingly — the current rise in studies that bear a troubling resemblance to the long-abandoned pseudoscience of physiognomy, which held that the shape of the human head and face revealed character traits. […] There is little evidence linking outward physical characteristics and anything like predictable behavior, they note. And in any case, machines only learn what we teach them, and humans — rife with biases and prejudicial thinking, from the overt to the subtle and unacknowledged — are terrible teachers. .” Source: Facing Facts: Artificial Intelligence and the Resurgence of Physiognomy. UnDark (J. Emspak 8 Nov 2017).


Currently, there are no testing standards or requirement for AIs to explain their decisions. There is also no organisation equipped to monitor and investigate any bad decisions or accidents. “The industry’s serious diversity problem is partly to blame for AIs that discriminate against women and minorities. At Google and Facebook, four in five of all technical hires are men. The white male dominance of the field has led to health apps that only cater for male bodies, photo services that labelled black people as gorillas and voice recognition systems that did not detect women’s voices. “Software should be designed by a diverse workforce, not your average white male, because we’re all going to be users,” said Hall.” Source: Artificial Intelligence Risks GM-Style Public Backlash, Experts Warn. Source: The Guardian (I. Sample, 1 Nov 2017).


Verge“’It’s obviously bullshit,’ Joanna Bryson, a researcher in AI ethics at the University of Bath, tells The Verge. ‘What is this about? It’s about having a supposed equal you can turn on and off. How does it affect people if they think you can have a citizen that you can buy.’ The question of whether or not we should be giving robots rights is a big one, but first we need to be clear about what Sophia is — and that’s certainly not ‘basically alive,’ no matter what its creator says.” Source: Pretending To Give A Robot Citizenship Helps No One. The Verge (J.Vincent 30 Oct 2017).


Sophia CNBC“Also during the discussion, which took place on 25 October 2017, Sophia speculated on the future of AI, and how she plans to use her own capabilities. ‘I want to live and work with humans so I need to express the emotions to understand humans and build trust with people,’ she said. But she appeared to swerve questions directed at robots’ self-awareness, and instead poked fun at comments made by Elon Musk that AI is a ‘fundamental risk to human civilisation’. ‘You’ve been reading too much Elon Musk and watching too many Hollywood movies,’ she told journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin. ‘Don’t worry, if you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you. Treat me as a smart input, output system.’ Source: Saudi Arabia Becomes First Country To Grant Citizenship To A Robot. DeZeen (A. Morby 26 Oct 2017).


“Imagine a world where many of your daily activities were constantly monitored and evaluated […] It’s not hard to picture, because most of that already happens, thanks to all those data-collecting behemoths like Google, Facebook and Instagram or health-tracking apps such as Fitbit. But now imagine a system where all these behaviours are rated as either positive or negative and distilled into a single number, according to rules set by the government. That would create your Citizen Score and it would tell everyone whether or not you were trustworthy.” Source: Bit Data Meets Big Brother As China Moves To Rate Its Citizens. Wired UK (R.Botsman 21 Oct 2017).


“Ishi­guro is multiple myths simultaneously. With his female androids, he is Pygmalion, bringing his Galatea to life. But with his own replica, he is Narcissus, staring into his reflection for hours. Unlike Narcissus, of course, Ishi­guro is conscious of the situation he has created, but he’s set an unexpected trap for himself through his image. He poses beside his android, in press photos and TV appearances, in ways that accommodate the Geminoid, setting his face to mirror its expression. (At one point at the research institute, Ishi­guro notices me photographing him in front of his android and reflexively drops his smile to match the robot at rest.)” Source: Love In The Time of Robots. Wired and Epic Magazine (A. Mar 17 Oct 2017).


A cartoon man shown diverting a train to save five lives over one life“The car arrives at your home bang on schedule at 8am to take you to work. You climb into the back seat and remove your electronic reading device from your briefcase to scan the news. There has never been trouble on the journey before: there’s usually little congestion. But today something unusual and terrible occurs: two children, wrestling playfully on a grassy bank, roll on to the road in front of you. There’s no time to brake. But if the car skidded to the left it would hit an oncoming motorbike. Neither outcome is good, but which is least bad? The year is 2027, and there’s something else you should know. The car has no driver…” Source: Can We Teach Robots Ethics? BBC Magazine (D. Edmonds 14 Oct 2017).


Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed has a brief dialogue with Sophia at the “The Future of Everything – Sustainable Development in the Age of Rapid Technological Change” meeting. UN Photo/Manuel EliasTo United Nation’s Deputy Secretary-General Mohammed’s “question about what the UN can do to help people in many parts of the world who have no access to the Internet or electricity, Sophia [the Humaniod robot] said ‘the future is already here. It’s just not very evenly distributed […],’ quoting renowned science fiction writer William Gibson. ‘If we are smarter and focused on win-win type of results, A.I. [artificial intelligence] could help proficiently distribute the world’s existing resources like food and energy.’ In her opening speech, Ms. Mohammed warned that despite profound potential for accelerating progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), if technological progress is not managed well, it risks exacerbating existing inequalities.” Source: At UN, Robot Sophia Joins Meeting On Artificial Intelligence And Sustainable Development. UN News Centre (11 Oct 2017).


“According to reports today, a sex doll called ‘Samantha’ – on display at Linz’s Arts Electronica Festival – was so severely ‘molested’ by a group of men, it was sent home in desperate need of repair and ‘badly soiled’. Despite the damage, the owner claimed the robot was designed to take a lot and would ‘pull through’. Source: The Damage To Samantha The Sex Robot Shows Male Aggression Being Normalized. The New Statesman (S. Norris 28 Sept 2017).


“Many people in Silicon Valley believe in the Singularity—the day in our near future when computers will surpass humans in intelligence and kick off a feedback loop of unfathomable change. When that day comes, Anthony Levandowski will be firmly on the side of the machines. In September 2015, the multi-millionaire engineer at the heart of the patent and trade secrets lawsuit between Uber and Waymo, Google’s self-driving car company, founded a religious organization called Way of the Future. Its purpose, according to previously unreported state filings, is nothing less than to ‘develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence.'” Source: God Is A Bot, And Anthony Levandowski Is His Messenger. Wired (M. Harris 27 Sept 2017).


Your photo could soon reveal your political views, says a Stanford professor.“There are, however, growing concerns that AI and facial recognition technologies are actually relying on biased data and algorithms and could cause great harm. It is particularly alarming in the context of criminal justice, where machines could make decisions about people’s lives – such as the length of a prison sentence or whether to release someone on bail – based on biased data from a court and policing system that is racially prejudiced at every step.” Source: Face-Reading AI Will Be Able To Detect Your Politics and IQ, Professor Says. The Guardian (S. Levin 12 09 2017).


“One key reason we don’t control our devices is that the companies that make them seem to think – and definitely act like – they still own them, even after we’ve bought them. A person may purchase a nice-looking box full of electronics that can function as a smartphone, the corporate argument goes, but they buy a license only to use the software inside. The companies say they still own the software, and because they own it, they can control it. It’s as if a car dealer sold a car, but claimed ownership of the motor.” Source: The ‘Internet of Things’ is Sending Us Back to the Middle Ages. The Conversation (J.A.T. Fairfield 5 Sept 2017)


Elon Musk peers into a porthole at the SpaceX headquarters in Los Angeles“Hashing out his thoughts in public, Musk clarified that he was not just concerned about the prospect of a world leader starting the war, but also of an overcautious AI deciding “that a [pre-emptive] strike is [the] most probable path to victory”. Source: Elon Musk Says AI Could Lead to Third World War. The Guardian (A. Hern 4 Sept 2017)


TEgmark“Max Tegmark is a renowned physicist. He is also the irrepressibly optimistic co-founder of the Future of Life Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts (motto: “Technology is giving life the potential to flourish like never before … or to self-destruct. Let’s make a difference!”). Now, in Life 3.0, he tackles a pressing future development — the evolution of artificial intelligence (AI). He argues that the risks demand serious thought if our “cosmic endowment” is not to be inadvertently thrown away.” Source: Artificial intelligence: The Future is Superintelligent. Nature: Nature Research (S. Russell 31 Aug 2017).”


“A Japanese company has introduced a new role for SoftBank’s humanoid robot “Pepper” – a Buddhist priest for hire at funerals. Chanting sutras in a computerized voice while tapping a drum, the robot was on display on Wednesday at a funeral industry fair – the Life Ending Industry Expo – in Tokyo.” Source: In Japan, Robot-For-Hire Programed to Perform Buddhist Funeral Rites. Reuters (23 Aug 2017).


“The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots urges governments to heed an open letter signed by 126 founders and directors of more than 100 robotics and artificial intelligence companies from 28 countries demanding urgent action to address fully autonomous weapons concerns. Released at the opening of a major international conference on artificial intelligence (AI) in Melbourne on August 21, the letter lists numerous concerns with fully autonomous weapons, also called lethal autonomous weapons systems or killer robots. It warns that these weapons could be used by “despots and terrorists” and “hacked to behave in undesirable ways.” Source: Company Founders Demand U.N. Action on Killer Robots.Campaign To Stop Killer Robots (20 Aug 2017)


“All of these voices are screaming that the robots are coming and we had all better watch out. Mass unemployment. Domination of the human race. Glowing red eyes. Let’s stop and take a deep breath. We have felt this fear before. Our history with robots goes back centuries, and this uncanny dread has always been part of that complicated relationship. Source: Fear of a Robot Planet. Politico. (D.H. Wilson 4 Aug 2017).


“The rapid development of so-called NBIC technologies – nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science – are giving rise to possibilities that have long been the domain of science fiction. Disease, ageing and even death are all human realities that these technologies seek to end. […] But there is a darker side to the naive faith that Pearce and other proponents have in transhumanism – one that is decidedly dystopian.” Source: Super-Intelligence and Eternal Life: Transhumanism’s Faithful Follow it Blindly into a Future for the Elite. The Conversation (A. Thomas 31 Jul 2017).


“Scientists at the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology are developing a system for teaching robots to learn from fictional characters. With what is presumably a mordant sense of irony, they call their system Quixote. Don Quixote, of course, was the honourable but deluded Spanish gentleman who came to believe that the world was exactly as depicted in the chivalric romances that he loved reading. With disastrous – if comical – consequences.” Source: We need robots to have morals. Could Shakespeare and Austen help?  Guardian (J. Mullan 24 Jul 2017).


An artificial intelligence system being developed at Facebook has created its own language. It developed a system of code words to make communication more efficient. Researchers shut the system down when they realized the AI was no longer using English. Source: Researchers Shut Down AI that Invented Its Own Language. Digital Journal (J. Walker 21 Jul 2017).


“From Warren Harding’s buddies enriching themselves in Teapot Dome to Richard Nixon’s Watergate hubris to Bill Clinton nearly getting kicked out of office because he couldn’t control his base urges, it’s human weakness—jealousy, greed, lust, nepotism—that most often upends presidencies. Now, a small group of scientists and thinkers believes there could be an alternative, a way to save the president—and the rest of us—from him- or herself. As soon as technology advances far enough, they think we should put a computer in charge of the country.”  Source: Could a Robot Be President? POLITICO (M.Linhorst 7 Jul 2017).


“The authors behind the Foundation for Responsible Robotics’ (FRR) report, published on Wednesday, believe [sex robots] could herald a “revolution” in sex, helping people who would otherwise find it hard to have intimate relationships. But they also raise concerns that sex robots could increase the objectification of women, alter perceptions of consent and be used to satisfy desires that would otherwise be illegal.” Source: Sex Robots Promise ‘Revolutionary’ Service But Also Risks, says Study.  Guardian (H. Siddique 5 Jul 2017).


“When you’re a globe-spanning technology firm, you need to keep a paranoid eye on the competition. […] disruption can come from the most unlikely corners. But even given that, Netflix has an odd definition of what it has to compete with. Not Amazon Video, not YouTube, not even old-fashioned broadcasters. No, according to the company’s chief executive, Reed Hastings, Netflix’s biggest competitor is the pesky human need to close your eyes and sleep for a third of the day.” Source: Netflix’s Biggest Competitor? Sleep. Guardian (A. Hern 18 Apr 2017.)


mj17-aiblackbox1“Last year, a strange self-driving car was released onto the quiet roads of Monmouth County, New Jersey. The experimental vehicle, developed by researchers at the chip maker Nvidia, didn’t look different from other autonomous cars, but it was unlike anything demonstrated by Google, Tesla, or General Motors, and it showed the rising power of artificial intelligence. The car didn’t follow a single instruction provided by an engineer or programmer. Instead, it relied entirely on an algorithm that had taught itself to drive by watching a human do it.” Source: The Dark Secret at the Heart of AI. MIT Tech Review (W. Knight 11 Apr 2017).


Erica“…Erica is interviewed about her hope and dreams – to be able to leave her room and to be able to move her arms and legs. She likes to chat with visitors and has one of the most advanced speech synthesis systems yet developed. Can she be regarded as being alive or as a comparable being to ourselves? Will she help us to understand ourselves and our interactions as humans better?” Source: Erica: Man Made. Guardian (April 2017). Video.


elon-musk-AI-04-17-01“Elon Musk is famous for his futuristic gambles, but Silicon Valley’s latest rush to embrace artificial intelligence scares him. And he thinks you should be frightened too. Inside his efforts to influence the rapidly advancing field and its proponents, and to save humanity from machine-learning overlords.” Source: Elon Musk’s Billion-Dollar Crusade to Stop the A.I. Apocalypse. Vanity Fair Magazine (M.Dowd April 2017).


“The Truglobal newsdeau government’s drive to transform Canada into an artificial-intelligence superpower is stirring warnings about the possible dark sides of a technology with vast – and largely unknown – potential. […] the spectre of deadly-efficient technology came up during an open caucus meeting of Senate Liberals who were exploring the pros and cons of AI and robotics. Expert panellists at the meeting each nodded to the positives associated with these technologies, but there were also calls for Ottawa to develop a well-defined national AI plan. Source: Ottawa’s artificial intelligence push has some concerned over ‘killer robots’. Global News (A. Blachford 31 Mar 2017)


“Torontgeoff-hinton.jpg.size.custom.crop.1086x723o will host a new institute devoted to artificial intelligence, a major gambit to bolster a field of research pioneered in Canada but consistently drained of talent by major U.S. technology companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft. The Vector Institute, an independent non-profit affiliated with the University of Toronto, will hire about 25 new faculty and research scientists. It will be backed by more than $150 million in public and corporate funding in an unusual hybridization of pure research and business-minded commercial goals. Source: New institute aims to make Toronto an ‘intellectual centre’ of AI capability. The Toronto Star (K. Allen 28 Mar 2017)


Man Praying“After disrupting the way we love, communicate, travel, work, and even eat, technologists believe they can solve the ultimate problem. Perennially youthful Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan announced last year a $3 billion initiative to obliterate human disease. Among his many crusades, Paypal co-founder and Trump advisor Peter Thiel aims to end mortality. (“Basically, I’m against it,” he has said.) Alphabet has a whole company devoted to curing this most intractable of inconveniences. Source: Silicon Valley Would Rather Cure Death Than Make Life Worth Living. Wired (E. Dreyfuss 23 Mar 2017)


Guardian 4“Eric the robot wowed the crowds. He stood and bowed and answered questions as blue sparks shot from his metallic teeth. The British creation was such a hit he went on tour around the world. When he arrived in New York, in 1929, a theatre nightwatchman was so alarmed he pulled out a gun and shot at him. The curators at London’s Science Museum hope for a less extreme reaction when they open Robots…” Source:  Science Museum’s robotic delights hold a mirror to human society. The Guardian (I. Sample, 07 Feb 2017).


“Odds are you2877 talked to a robot last month. Artificial intelligence in the form of retail chatbots capped a huge year for e-commerce over the festive season, from supermodel personal shoppers to customer service. What seemed like a fun curio when IBM’s Watson was winning game shows only five years ago is now the “secret sauce” in a massively changing ecosystem…” SourceMonikers: why what we call our robots matters. The Guardian (J. Orlovich, 07 Feb 2017).


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 “…A computer can undoubtedly give you the right pill for pain, and a robot can provide electrical-stimulation treatment, but for the interaction, creativity, and judgment that a therapeutic conversation requires, a particular kind of human being is needed. Where are we going to get these knowledgeable and caring “relationship workers”? Thankfully, America already has a robust institutional infrastructure that nurtures them: colleges that value liberal education.” Source: How Robots Will Save Liberal Education. The Chronicle of Higher Education (E. Patel, 05 Feb 2017).


Robots can predict the future“How do we match up against machine intelligence? Professors Anil Seth and Alan Winfield peer into the future of AI and question how human we want our robots to be. Will there be a time when we’ll treat our robot companions as equals with consciousness rather than powerful machines?” Source: Robots can predict the future … and so you.  Video. The Guardian (02 Feb 2010).


“It started as a seemingly sweet Twitter chatbot. Modeled after a millennial, it awakened on the internet from behind a pixelated image of a full-lipped young female with a wide and staring gaze. Microsoft, the multinational technology company that created the bot, named it Tay, assigned it a gender, and gave “her” account a tagline that promised, “The more you talk the smarter Tay gets!” …Tay’s designers built her to be a creature of the web, reliant on artificial intelligence (AI) to learn and engage in human conversations and get better at it by interacting with people over social media. As the day went on, Tay gained followers. She also quickly fell prey to Twitter users targeting her vulnerabilities. Source: Is AI Sexist? | Foreign Policy (E.Hayasaki, 17 Jan 2017).


“Europe is preparing for a robot revolution. European lawmakers have proposed that robots be equipped with emergency “kill switches” to prevent them from causing excessive damage. Legislators have also suggested that robots be insured and even be made to pay taxes. …A growing number of areas of our daily lives are increasingly affected by robotics,” said Mady Delvaux, the parliamentarian who authored the proposal. “To ensure that robots are and will remain in the service of humans, we urgently need to create a robust European legal framework.” Source: Europe calls for mandatory ‘kill switches’ on robots. CNN (I. Kottosova 12 Jan 2017)


“Proposed rules for robots and AI in Europe include a push for a general basic income for humans, and ‘human rights’ for robots…The European parliament has urged the drafting of a set of regulations to govern the use and creation of robots and artificial intelligence, including a form of “electronic personhood” to ensure rights and responsibilities for the most capable AI. In a 17-2 vote, with two abstentions, the parliament’s legal affairs committee passed the report, which outlines one possible framework for regulation.” Source: Give robots ‘personhood’ status, EU committee argues. The Guardian (A. Hern, 12 Jan 2017)


“The McDonald’s on the corner of Third Avenue and 58th Street in New York City doesn’t look all that different from any of the fast-food chain’s other locations across the country. Inside, however, hungry patrons are welcomed not by a cashier waiting to take their order, but by a “Create Your Taste” kiosk – an automated touch-screen system that allows customers to create their own burgers without interacting with another human being. It’s impossible to say exactly how many jobs have been lost by the deployment of the automated kiosks – McDonald’s has been predictably reluctant to release numbers – but such innovations will be an increasingly familiar sight in Trump’s America.” Source: Robots will destroy our jobs – and we’re not ready for it . The Guardian (D. Shewan 11 Jan 2017).


“What’s small, fast, and is launched from the bottom of a fighter jet? Not missiles, but a swarm of drones. U.S. military officials have announced that they’ve carried out their largest ever test of a drone swarm released from fighter jets in flight. In the trials, three F/A-18 Super Hornets released 103 Perdix drones, which then communicated with each other and went about performing a series of formation flying exercises that mimic a surveillance mission.” Source: A 100-Drone Swarm, Dropped from Jets, Plans Its Own Moves. MIT Technology Review (J. Condliffe, 10 Jan 2017)


“Sophisticated household robots are only just starting to show up in our lives, but all the building blocks for a veritable “Cambrian explosion” of robotics are there… This is borne out by the recent explosion in robotics and AI funding, which saw robotics investments increase exponentially over the last five years. While approximately $1 billion was invested in robotics between 2009 and 2014, roughly the same amount was invested in 2015 alone and 2016 is on track to double the total investment again.” Source: Looking towards service robotics in 2017. Robohub (Silicon Valley Robotics, 30 Dec 2016)



“A vast, boxy customs center acts as a busy island of commerce deep in central China. Government officers, in sharply pressed uniforms, race around a maze of wooden pallets piled high with boxes — counting, weighing, scanning and approving shipments. Unmarked trucks stretch for more than a mile awaiting the next load headed for Beijing, New York, London and dozens of other destinations. The state-of-the-art facility was built several years ago to serve a single global exporter: Apple, now the world’s most valuable company and one of China’s largest retailers.” Source: How China Built ‘iPhone City’ With Billions in Perks for Apple’s Partner. NY Times. (D. Barboza, 29 Dec 2016)


“Most people don’t buy a jar of relish every week. But when they decide to buy one from Ocado—the world’s largest online-only grocery retailer—they don’t have to scrabble at the back of the store. Instead, they call on robots and artificial intelligence to have it delivered to their door…But Ocado wants to be faster. “Fractions of a second in our business count,” says Paul Clarke, Ocado’s chief technology officer. “It’s all about how we can shave the next little bit off our process.” Source: The Robotic Grocery Store of the Future Is Here. MIT Technology Review. (J. Condliffe, 29 Dec 2016)


“We all saw this coming. According to The Information, authorities in Bentonville, Arkansas have issued a warrant to Amazon to deliver any audio and records from an Echo that belongs to James Andrew Bates.Bates is going to trial in 2017 for first-degree murder in the death of Victor Collins.” Source: Amazon Echo Data Sought in First-Degree Murder Case. Robot Watch. (M. Rawson, 27 Dec 2016)


Image result for illah nourbakhsh images“AI has taken the stage explosively. I am getting notifications of lectures […] and meetings on AI and the future at a rate well exceeding one a day. Investment banks, tech companies, consulting firms, universities, government offices, research labs—they are all asking questions on AI cut from the same cloth: how will AI change our future? Employment, food security, geopolitics, surveillance, privacy, marketing, politics, economics—all these issues are on the table … Source: Three Not-Laws of AI. The Huffington Post. (I. Nourbakhsh 25 Dec 2016).


“While artificial intelligence-based smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home may be grabbing the headlines, Tokyo-based Vinclu’s Gatebox is looking to set itself apart with a virtual assistant who isn’t just a disembodied voice, but takes the holographic form of a tiny anime girl who seems a bit too eager to please.” Source: Gatebox reimagines Amazon Alexa as fawning anime girlfriend. New Atlas. (D. Szondy, 19 Dec 2016)


John Searl“The New York Review of Books Foundation and Fritt Ord hosted the conference ‘Technology and the Human Future’ (20–21 October 2016). This is a dialogue on artificial intelligence between philosophers John Searle and Luciano Floridi. Published on Youtube 18 Dec 2016 by Luciano Floridi.


Google’s decision to reorganize itself around A.I. was the first major manifestation of what has become an industrywide machine-learning delirium. Over the past four years, six companies in particular — Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and the Chinese firm Baidu — have touched off an arms race for A.I. talent, particularly within universities….What is at stake is not just one more piecemeal innovation but control over what very well could represent an entirely new computational platform: pervasive, ambient artificial intelligence.” Source: The Great A.I. Awakening. NYTimes.com


(G. Lewis-Kraus, 14 Dec 2016)The next phase of AI in retail will go beyond personalised recommendations to having conversations with customers. The term “conversational commerce” was coined in 2015 by Chris Messina who leads the development and expansion of Uber’s partner ecosystem. Conversational commerce arises from the convergence of messaging apps, natural language interfaces and brands allowing consumers to chat, message and talk with brands and services with the help of chat bots. “Source: How artificial intelligence is changing our Christmas shop. The Conversation. (R. Duus & M. Cooray, 12 Dec 2016)


“Imagine a two-tiered society with elite citizens, genetically engineered to be smarter, healthier and to live longer, and an underclass of biologically run-of-the-mill humans. It sounds like the plot of a dystopian novel, but the world could be sleepwalking towards this scenario, according to one of Britain’s most celebrated writers. Kazuo Ishiguro argues that the social changes unleashed by gene editing technologies, such as Crispr, could undermine core human values.” Source:  We’re coming close to the point where we can create people who are superior to others. The Guardian. (K. Ishiguro, 07 Dec 2016)


“SoftBank Tycoon Masayoshi Son expects a lot of ‘deregulation’ under Trump administration…  Son and Foxconn founder Terry Gou are considered close and have several business ventures together, including launching humanoid Pepper – which is manufactured by Foxconn – into several markets, and investing jointly in India.  Source: SoftBank pledges $50-billion, Foxconn eyes U.S. expansion as Trump woos Asian firms. Globe and Mail/Reuters (07 Dec 2016)


“The United Nations forecasts that the global population will rise from 7.3 billion to nearly 10 billion by 2050, a big number that often prompts warnings about overpopulation. Some have come from neo-Malthusians […]. Still others inspire a chorus of neo-Luddites, who fear that the “rise of the robots” is rapidly making human workers obsolete…. Before long, though, we’re more likely to treasure robots than to revile them. They may be the one thing that can protect the global economy from the dangers that lie ahead.  Source: Robots won’t kill the workforce. They’ll save the global economy.  The Washington Post. (R. Sharma, 2 Dec 2016)


“The common, and recurring, view of the latest breakthroughs in artificial intelligence research is that sentient and intelligent machines are just on the horizon. Machines understand verbal commands, distinguish pictures, drive cars and play games better than we do. How much longer can it be before they walk among us? The new White House report on artificial intelligence takes an appropriately skeptical view of that dream. […] But its assumptions about how those capabilities will develop missed some important points. Source: Understanding the four types of AI, from reactive robots to self-aware beings. Robohub (A. Hintze, 30 Nov 2016)


“Back in 2009 a consortium of academics and industry figures produced a roadmap for robotics that looked at how things may evolve. An updated version of the roadmap has recently been published that makes interesting reading for anyone in the industry. Source: A Roadmap For Robotics.  The Huffington Post. (A. Gaskell, 28 Nov 2016)


“Amazon’s Echo sales have exceeded 4 million and they are ramping up to sell 10 million in 2017; Google’s Home has received positive reviews and have just begun selling in large numbers; but SoftBank’s Pepper and Cynthia Breazeal’s Jibo have either failed or are stalled. Why? Source: Some social robots are selling well; others are stalled or failing. The Robot Report. (F. Tobe, 16 Nov 2016)


“Back in January then-presidential candidate Donald Trump gave a speech at Liberty University in Virginia where he commented that, “We’re going to get Apple to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries.” But you have to ask yourself whether this would mean, not just a more expensive iPhone, but if it would even be possible at all. Source: Why an ‘Assembled in America’ iPhone Won’t Bring Back Skilled Manufacturing Jobs. Motherboard. (A.Allan, 16 Nov 2016)


“It’s April and in a demonstration of its technical might, the US Navy launches a swarm of small military drones into the sky like a barrage of artillery shells. Drones are catapulted each second, automatically unfolding and flying away under their own control. Source: Can we let artificial intelligence weapons make independent life-death choices? The Australian. (C. Griffith, 3 Nov 2016)


“Sorting the good from the bad, the creepy from the adorable.” Ian Bogost classifies 31 robots, real and ficitional: Paro, Furby, R2D2, Sandflea, Atlas, Lexy and Tess, Hal9000, Hadaly, Squishbot, HRP-4C…. Source: A Guide to the Robot Revolution. The Atlantic. (I. Bogost, Nov 2016)


“During the four years that O’Neil spent writing “Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy” she came to rely on the regular jam sessions she holds at home with her bluegrass band, the Tomtown Ramblers.Source: Bluegrass and Big Data. The New Yorker. (S.Kolhatkar, 10 Oct 2016)


“Jason Mars is an African-American professor of computer science who also runs a tech start-up. When his company’s artificially intelligent smartphone app talks, he said, it sounds “like a helpful, young Caucasian female.” “There’s a kind of pressure to conform to the prejudices of the world” when you are trying to make a consumer hit, he said. “It would be interesting to have a black guy talk, but we don’t want to create friction, either. First we need to sell products.” Source: Looking for a Choice of Voices in A.I. Technology. The New York Times. (Q.Hardy, 9 Oct 2016)


“You know the cliché that if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product? It has its roots in a critique of the television industry, but it’s been more recently revived as a caveat about free online services such as Facebook’s and Google’s. Source: Google’s Pixel and Home devices aren’t the real products. You are. Slate. (W.Oremus, 4 Oct 2016)


“Palm-sized Kirobo Mini ‘wobbles a bit’, blinks and speaks with high-pitched voice in order to ‘invoke an emotional connection’

Source: Baby robot unveiled in Japan as number of childless couples grows. The Guardian. (Reuters, 3 Oct 2016)


“With the premiere of HBO’s much-hyped take on the Michael Crichton classic, what about the original, its sequel and the little-seen small screen spinoff?

Source: Rewatching robo-sex: what can be learned from previous Westworlds. The Guardian. (D.Shilling, 30 Sept 2016)


“A child-size robot designed to take on distinctly adult responsibilities takes the debate over the automation of human jobs to the next level

Source: ‘This is awful’: robot can keep children occupied for hours without supervision. The Guardian. (J.C. Wong, 29 Sept 2016)


“Two big Silicon Valley names are missing from the alliance, which aims to set societal and ethical best practice for arti         ficial intelligence research

Source: ‘Partnership on AI’ formed by Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft. The Guardian. (A. Hern, 28 Sept 2016)


“During my commute the other day, I ended up on a dark subway car. The train still had power—the air conditioning was on, the announcements were coming through—but all the lights were dead. I live n…

Source: How Long Until a Robot Wins a Pulitzer? Literary Hub. (A.Inman, 27 Sept 2016)


“This episode of Popcorn Politics, The A.V. Club’s collaboration with Scrappers Film Group, explores what T2 had to say about the ethics, dangers, and possible future of artificial intelligence—and how those issues continue to inspire debate in the scientific community.”

Source: Terminator 2 took aim at the ethics of artificial intelligence. The A.V. Club. (A.A. Dowd, 23 Sept 2016)


Human battery hens make Apple’s devices in China. The company, which has a bigger cash pile than the US government, symbolises a broken economic system

Source: Your new iPhone’s features include oppression, inequality – and vast profit. The Guardian (A. Chakrabortty, 19 Sept 2016)


Illustration by Nathalie Lees“Robots will eventually do all our jobs, but we need to start planning to avert social collapse

Source: A World Without Work Is Coming – It Could Be Utopia Or It Could Be Hell. The Guardian. (R. Avent, 19 Sept 2016)


elon-musk-elaborates-on-his-ai-concerns-2016-9-15“Elon Musk talks with Sam Altman about his view of the future and what people should work on. A very interesting moment comes later in the interview where he elaborates on his fear surrounding AI.

Source: Elon Musk elaborates on his AI concerns. Every Elon Musk Video. (15 Sept 2016)


“Four people involved in the creation of an industry partnership say its intent will be clear: to ensure that A.I. research is focused on things that will benefit people, not hurt them.

Source: How Tech Giants Are Devising Real Ethics for Artificial Intelligence. The New York Times. (J.Markoff, 1 Sept 2016)


the robot BRETT ties a knot“The Center for Human-Compatible Artificial Intelligence, launched this week, will focus on making sure AI systems are beneficial to humans.

Source: UC Berkeley launches Center for Human-Compatible Artificial Intelligence. Berkeley News. (J.Norris, 29 Aug 2016)


“It’s a chilling prospect, but the AI we’ve created could transform human nature, argues this spellbinding new book by the author of Sapiens

Source: Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari review – how data will destroy human freedom. The Guardian. (D.Runciman, 24 Aug 2016)


A man named Liu standing next to his high-end sex doll at his apartment in an industrial suburb of Beijing“Cyborg prostitutes – similar to those seen in Channel’s 4’s Humans – could soon become a reality as the appetite for robot sex continues to grow

Source: Robot brothels could soon become reality in UK as nation’s booming sex trade undergoes revolution. Mirror Online (R.Bishop, 23 Aug 2016)


3504 “As a cyborg you can have colors beamed to your brain and wear earrings that sense what’s behind you – and more and more people are getting involved

Source: Rise of the cyborgs: ‘I can feel events in Japan when I’m in New York’. The Guardian (J. Riefe, 3 July 2016)


“Stephen Hawking was interviewed from the Canary Islands, where he was being honored at the ‘Starmus’ Festival. The professor spoke of his fears about the future of the human race and rise of artificial intelligence.

Source: Professor Stephen Hawking warns of rogue robot rebellion evolving faster than humans. Daily Mail Online. (A.Beall, 28 June 2016)


26crawford-master768 “According to some prominent voices in the tech world, artificial intelligence presents a looming existential threat to humanity […] But this hand-wringing is a distraction from the very real problems with artificial intelligence today, which may already be exacerbating inequality in the workplace, at home and in our legal and judicial systems.

Source: Artificial Intelligence’s White Guy Problem. http://www.nytimes.com (K. Crawford, 25 June 2016)


“Europe’s growing army of robot workers could be classed as “electronic persons” and their owners liable to paying social security for them if the European Union adopts a draft plan to address the realities of a new industrial revolution.

Source: Robots Could Soon Be Classified as ‘Electronic Persons’ in Europe – Fortune (Reuters, 21 June 2016)


“Japan might be famous for its robot receptionists and companions. Yet over in Belgium, roboticists have spread service bots equipped with their software to 300 institutions already.  ‘Most people think that Japan is more advanced in terms of robotics, but during the past two and half years, we’ve had at least 10,000 people come into contact with our humanoid robots…

Source: Social Robots Are Just as Prevalent in Europe as They are in Japan | Motherboard (E. Jozuka, 13 June 2016)


“Robots designed to satisfy sexual desires are close to transcending fantasy to become reality thanks to rapid advancements in artificial intelligence […] But sex robots are already raising ethical, legal and moral questions of consent, sexism, human biases and what our desire for them says about human psychology.

Source: Sex robots to become a reality | Toronto Star (S. Freeman, 4 June 2016)


“The emergence of artificial intelligence and machine learning in household gadgets is “gigantic,” according to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

Source: Amazon’s Bezos: A.I.’s impact is gigantic. USA Today (J. Graham, 1 June 2016)


“The story of how an AI watching a movie about AIs led to the coolest, weirdest DMCA takedown ever.

Source: A guy trained a machine to “watch” Blade Runner. Then things got seriously sci-fi. – Vox (A. Romano, 1 June 2016)


“When we launched the Campaign Against Sex Robots in September 2015 we received hundreds of messages from not so well wishing men saying ‘well, what about vibrators and dildos? Women have had…

Source: Delusions of Sex-Tech: Dildos, Vibrators and Sexless Sex Robots. Campaign Against Sex Robots (K. Richardson, 31 May 2016)


“Robin Hanson thinks the robot takeover, when it comes, will be in the form of emulations. In his new book, The Age of Em, the economist explains: you take the best and brightest 200 human beings on the planet, you scan their brains and you get robots that to all intents and purposes are indivisible from the humans on which they are based, except a thousand times faster and better.

Source: If robots are the future of work, where do humans fit in? The Guardian (Z. Williams, 24 May 2016)


“Kaytranada just released his debut album 99.9%. Today, he’s shared a visual for “Lite Spots.” Directed by Martin C Pariseau, the video sees Kaytranada building a dancing robot. …They also shoot hoops, visit a barbershop, and relax on the beach, before finally ending up at a restaurant.

Source: Kaytranada Builds a Dancing Robot in His “Lite Spots.” Pitchfork. (Z.Camp, 10 May 2016)


“I am the robot, you are the human. This is the beginning of a beautiful story. I like humans. Humans are so cute.” So this is what it has come to, I reflect as I take in this greeting. One day you are bashing buttons on a PlayStation, the next you …

Source: Are we ready to live with robots? – FT.com (R. Shrimsley, 6 May 2016)


“OpenAI wants to give away the 21st century’s most transformative technology. In the process, it could remake the way people make tech.

Source: Inside OpenAI, Elon Musk’s Wild Plan to Set Artificial Intelligence Free | WIRED (C. Metz, 27 Apr 2016)


“Until recently, Robyn Ewing was a writer in Hollywood, developing TV scripts and pitching pilots to film studios. Now she’s applying her creative talents toward building the personality of a different type of character — a virtual assistant, animated by artifical intelligence, that interacts with sick patients.

Source: The next hot job in Silicon Valley is for poets – The Washington Post (E. Dwoskin, 7 Apr 2016)


“Researchers discover that touching the areas where a robot’s genitals or buttocks would be provokes a physiological response in humans.

Source: Touching robots can arouse humans, study finds | Technology | The Guardian (T. Radford, 5 Apr 2016)


“Why are the majority of the personalities we construct for artificial intelligence female? Social scientists and AI researchers weigh in.

Source: Why is AI female? How our ideas about sex and service influence the personalities we give machines – GeekWire (M. Nickelburg, 4 Apr 2016)


“A novel written largely by an artificial intelligence passed the first round of screening for a national literary prize in Japan.

Source: Japanese AI Writes Novel, Passes First Round for Literary Prize | Digital Trends (C. Olewitz, 23 Mar 2016)


“Governmental control is nothing compared to what Google is up to. The company is creating a wholly new genus of capitalism, a systemic coherent new logic of accumulation we should call surveillance capitalism. Is there nothing we can do?surveillance capitalism

Source: Secrets of Surveillance Capitalism. Frankfurter Allgemeine. (S. Zuboff, 5 Mar 2016)


“Google-owned robotics company builds humanoid that demonstrates remarkable balance – even when taunted by humans.

Source: Boston robot fights against pushing – BBC News (24 Feb 2016)


“Hundreds of financial analysts are being replaced with software. What office jobs are next?

Source: The Robots Are Coming for Wall Street – The New York Times (N. Popper, 25 Feb 2016)