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Terracide: Destroying the planet for profit

“We have a word for the conscious slaughter of a racial or ethnic group: genocide. And one for the conscious destruction of aspects of the environment: ecocide. But we don’t have a word for the conscious act of destroying the planet we live on, the world as humanity had known it until, historically speaking, late last night. A possibility might be “terracide” from the Latin word for earth.”

John Payne's insight:

If you haven't seen the movie Alien Nation, or maybe even if you have, this might be a good time to see it (again), making a concerted effort to view it as allegory, which it may or may not have originally been intended to be.

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Cultibotics
Cultibotics is about applying robotics to making horticultural best practices scalable and economical.
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DARPA Wi-Fi drones: Just what Facebook needs | Gizmag

DARPA Wi-Fi drones: Just what Facebook needs | Gizmag | Cultibotics | Scoop.it

“The Defence Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) plans to extend connectivity for forward military units with the use of small Wi-Fi-hosting drones. The aim of the Mobile Hotspots project is to provide a reliable, mobile source of bandwidth to all echelons of the military on a scale unthinkable using current methods.”

John Payne's insight:

This technology, if made available, could move Facebook a long way toward its goal of using drones to bring the internet to the world.

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3D laser lithography yields strong, light microstructure | Gizmag

3D laser lithography yields strong, light microstructure | Gizmag | Cultibotics | Scoop.it

“Researchers in Germany have developed a lightweight, high-strength material inspired by the framework structure of bones and wood and the shell structure of bees' honeycombs. Created using 3D laser polymer printing combined with a ceramic coating, the material is less dense than water but, relative to its size, boasts strength comparable to high-performance steel or aluminum.”

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Symphony of the Soil trailer

"Symphony of the Soil is a 104-minute documentary feature film that explores the complexity and mystery of soil. Filmed on four continents and sharing the voices of some of the world's most esteemed soil scientists, farmers and activists, the film portrays soil as a protagonist of our planetary story. Using a captivating mix of art and science, the film shows that soil is a complex living organism, the foundation of life on earth."

John Payne's insight:

How does this relate to robotics? Technologies imply practices, and farming practices bear directly on soil health. Investment must move from technologies which imply destructive practices to technologies which support sustainable practices.

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Google Ventures invests in Savioke | BBC News

Google Ventures invests in Savioke | BBC News | Cultibotics | Scoop.it

“Savioke's work may be under wraps, but it has announced plans to begin customer trials of a service industry-targeted machine this year. … Savioke has disclosed a total $2m (£1.2m) of seed finance, which includes cash from other sources in addition to an undisclosed sum from Google Ventures, the search giant's investment arm.”

 
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Oldest known cardiovascular system already brain-focused | ScienceMag

Oldest known cardiovascular system  already brain-focused | ScienceMag | Cultibotics | Scoop.it

“The brain was well supplied with looping blood vessels, which extended branches into the arthropod’s alienlike eyestalks and antennae and rivaled the complexity of today’s crustaceans. From this Gordian architecture, the researchers can now speculate about the critter’s lifestyle. Its brain required abundant oxygen, so it presumably did a fair amount of thinking.”

John Payne's insight:

As if to underscore the importance of pairing information processing with mobility, this 520 million year old cardiovascular system was already highly developed for providing oxygen to the brain, suggesting that these creatures were also spending a disproportionate percentage of their energy budgets on correlating sensory input, a situation which could only arise if it somehow provided a significant evolutionary advantage.  It may be a stretch to generalize this to robotics, but you can judge for yourself whether providing the resources necessary to integrate data from disparate sources in a timely manner confers an  advantage worth the expense and effort.

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RMIT & DSTO improve UAV endurance using updrafts | Gizmag

RMIT & DSTO improve UAV endurance using updrafts | Gizmag | Cultibotics | Scoop.it

“Soaring birds are catching a ride on rising air currents to save energy, and now researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, are aiming to develop bio-inspired UAVs capable of doing the same thing. Working in collaboration with the Australian Department of Defence's Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), the RMIT research team is aiming to develop a small fixed-wing unmanned aircraft that is able to autonomously take advantage of rising air currents around buildings to save energy and improve endurance.”

John Payne's insight:

Where I live, even ravens can occasionally be seen trying their wings at soaring.  I'm ashamed to say that making use of updrafts to lift a UAV hadn't previously occurred to me, but in retrospect it seems obvious.

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The lean hardware startup: Investing in hardware startups | TechCrunch

The lean hardware startup: Investing in hardware startups | TechCrunch | Cultibotics | Scoop.it

“Nest and Oculus got acquired for billions, Jawbone and GoPro are going IPO, multiple projects are crossing the $1 million bar on Kickstarter. Something is happening in hardware. Yet many investors from angels to institutional investors are still reluctant to get into hardware before it’s a proven market.”

John Payne's insight:

This is the fourth installment in TechCrunch's series on Lean Hardware.

http://techcrunch.com/tag/lean-hardware/

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Self-organized criticality in the brain | Quanta

Self-organized criticality in the brain | Quanta | Cultibotics | Scoop.it

“Think of sand running from the top of an hourglass to the bottom. Grain by grain, the sand accumulates. Eventually, the growing pile reaches a point where it is so unstable that the next grain to fall may cause it to collapse in an avalanche. When a collapse occurs, the base widens, and the sand starts to pile up again — until the mound once again hits the critical point and founders. It is through this series of avalanches of various sizes that the sand pile — a complex system of millions of tiny elements — maintains overall stability.”

John Payne's insight:

Anyone even casually familiar with systems theory will recognize the terms in which this notion is described. To the extent that it holds true for the workings of the human brain, one may expect that it will also prove useful in the development of strong AI.

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Robots Podcast #153: Termite-Inspired Construction | Robots.net

Robots Podcast #153: Termite-Inspired Construction | Robots.net | Cultibotics | Scoop.it

 “Justin Werfel and colleagues have created TERMES robots that build three-dimensional structures without the need for any leader or prescribed roles. In Robots Podcast #153, Sabine speaks withJustin Werfel about this work, which is a project of the Self-organizing Systems Research Group, a core component of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University.”

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CMU snake robot finds medical application | Gizmag

CMU snake robot finds medical application | Gizmag | Cultibotics | Scoop.it

“When we last heard about the modular snake robot designed by Carnegie Mellon University robotics professor Howie Choset, it had been used to explore an abandoned nuclear power plant. Now, however, a new line of robots based on it are set to explore something a little more confined – the human body.”

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Forests surrounding Chernobyl a fire waiting to happen: robotic chipper needed | Motherboard

Forests surrounding Chernobyl a fire waiting to happen: robotic chipper needed | Motherboard | Cultibotics | Scoop.it

“As if the Ukraine didn’t have enough to worry about these days with Russia invading Crimea, recent scientific research points to the very real threat of a nuclear forest fire. Great heavy metal band name aside, the forests around Chernobyl—the nuclear power plant that exploded 28 years ago—are not decaying properly and should it all catch fire, radioactive material would spread beyond Chernobyl’s Zone of Alienation, the off-limits 1000 square-miles around the decommissioned facility located 68 miles north of Kiev.”

John Payne's insight:

Reducing standing deadwood to chips lying on the forest floor not only reduces the ferocity of a fire, should one occur, but also would act to retain moisture, accelerating decay of the wood.  But the area is still too radioactive for people to spend much time there, so robotic equipment is needed.

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Sheffield UAV 3D-printed in less than 24 hours | Gizmag

Sheffield UAV 3D-printed in less than 24 hours | Gizmag | Cultibotics | Scoop.it

“Engineers at the University of Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (AMRC), however, have taken things a step farther. They've made a 3D-printed UAV airframe that's designed to minimize the amount of material needed in its construction, and that can be printed and in the air within a single day.”

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CSAIL panel discussion at SXSW | YouTube

SXSW 2014 panel featuring CSAIL members Daniela Rus, Tim Berners-Lee, Andrew Lo, and Russ Tedrake.
John Payne's insight:

Daniela Rus acts as host, and opens the event.  Tim Berners-Lee follows at 5:40.  Andrew Lo begins at 19:10.  Russ Tedrake's presentation begins at 27:20, and Q&A begins at 36:35.

 

http://youtu.be/RZqzx_ifajI?t=5m40s

http://youtu.be/RZqzx_ifajI?t=19m10s

http://youtu.be/RZqzx_ifajI?t=27m20s

http://youtu.be/RZqzx_ifajI?t=36m35s

 

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TinkerBots set to blow through $100K fundraising goal | Indiegogo

“TinkerBots is a toy building set with easy-to-add robotics that make it possible for children and adults to create an endless number of toy robots simply by snapping together TinkerBots’ patented Power Brain, kinetic modules and passive pieces, and even Lego bricks. No wiring or programming required.”

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Toyota replaces some robots with human workers | Bloomberg

Toyota replaces some robots with human workers | Bloomberg | Cultibotics | Scoop.it
Inside Toyota Motor Corp.’s oldest plant, there’s a corner where humans have taken over from robots in thwacking glowing lumps of metal into crankshafts. This is Mitsuru Kawai’s vision of the future.
John Payne's insight:

“To be the master of the machine, you have to have the knowledge and the skills to teach the machine.” - Mitsuru Kawai

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KUKA omniMove Universal Transport Vehicle | YouTube

John Payne's insight:

I don't usually consider marketing videos newsworthy, but this one clearly qualifies as an exception.

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Call for immediate limited commercial UAS use | Precision Ag

Call for immediate limited commercial UAS use | Precision Ag | Cultibotics | Scoop.it

“The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) joined 31 other organizations today to send a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)encouraging the agency to expedite the rulemaking process for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations in the U.S. airspace. The letter also calls on the FAA to allow the limited use of small UAS for commercial purposes before the final rulemaking is completed.”

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Robot: stop global warming | IRO 2014

Robot: stop global warming | IRO 2014 | Cultibotics | Scoop.it

The theme of the 16th International Robot Olympiad has been released.  It will be "Robot: Stop Global Warming".  This event is to be held November 5th-9th, in the Shijingshan District, Beijing, China, and will run concurrently with the19th FIRA RoboWorld Cup.

John Payne's insight:

The setting, Beijing in November (during the heating season), may add an all too poignant note of urgency to this theme.  Here's hoping the kids come up with solutions that can really make a difference!  (Note: this is linked to the website for the 2013 IRO Competition, which was held in Denver, Colorado. A comparable website for the 2014 event does not yet appear to be available.)

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Triathlete injured as drone falls during race | ABC AU

Triathlete injured as drone falls during race | ABC AU | Cultibotics | Scoop.it

“Mr Abrams said an initial investigation had indicted that someone nearby "channel hopped" the device, taking control away from the operator. Channel hopping is a form of hacking which can render the drone uncontrollable to the original operator. Mr Abrams said it was a deliberate act and it would be difficult to determine who was responsible as something as common as a mobile phone could be used to perform a channel hop.”

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Festo's BionicKangaroo recycles energy | Gizmag

Festo's BionicKangaroo recycles energy | Gizmag | Cultibotics | Scoop.it

“Just like its animal cousin, the robo-marsupial developed by Festo’s Bionic Learning Network is able to store energy from the landing phase of a jump and reuse it efficiently on subsequent jumps. The technology developed for the BionicKangaroo may hold the key to more energy-efficient machines based on both pneumatic and electric drive technologies.”

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DARPA's Phoenix program: robotic orbital assembly of modular satellites | WIRED

DARPA's Phoenix program: robotic orbital assembly of modular satellites | WIRED | Cultibotics | Scoop.it
Building satellites in the future could be as easy as sending robots packed with hardware into orbit, if a new project from Darpa takes off.
John Payne's insight:

Phoenix program on DARPA.mil

http://www.darpa.mil/Our_Work/TTO/Programs/Phoenix.aspx

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MiP: a collaboration between Wowwee and UCSD | Gizmag

MiP: a collaboration between Wowwee and UCSD | Gizmag | Cultibotics | Scoop.it

“MiP was designed in a collaboration between Wowwee and the Coordinated Robotics Lab at the University of California, San Diego. It balances just like the Segway, using the mobile inverted pendulum principle (hence its name) – in a nutshell, this means that the bottom of the robot is constantly moving back and forth, in order to keep the weight of the top section centered above it.”

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ROS user survey results | ROS.org

ROS user survey results | ROS.org | Cultibotics | Scoop.it
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Tiny lensless camera generates images algorithmically | Phys.org

Tiny lensless camera generates images algorithmically | Phys.org | Cultibotics | Scoop.it

“An extremely tiny lensless camera, developed by Rambus, has been slowly making waves over the past year. Researchers for the company, David Stork and Patrick Gill won a Best Paper award at last year's Sencomm 2013 for describing what the company has created. They spoke again at last month's Mobile World Congress, describing their new type of camera—one that might someday soon be used to give virtually any digital device, some degree of vision.”

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XPrize for unassisted AI TED Talk | Gizmag

XPrize for unassisted AI TED Talk | Gizmag | Cultibotics | Scoop.it

“TED Talks are known for being delivered in a captivating, compelling fashion – that's why the events' organizers are fairly picky when it comes to selecting speakers. With that in mind, XPrize has teamed up with TED for its latest competition, in which an artificial intelligence (AI) must deliver a TED Talk with no human assistance.”

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