A provocative new poll shows that Americans have little trouble imagining a future full of personal service robots -- at least when it comes to robots tasked with cleaning our homes, driving our cars, and even helping fight our wars.
But the HuffPost/YouGov poll shows that we're a bit squeamish about bots in especially personal roles, such as caring for elderly people or replacing a human sex partner. These findings are consistent with research conducted by Stanford University's Dr. Leila Takayama, an expert in robot-human relationships.
"We've been finding that people prefer the idea of working with robots instead of having robots work in place of people," Takayama told The Huffington Post in an email.
In the poll, 58 percent of Americans said that robots will be cleaning our homes by 2030. But only 33 percent said that they'd like a robot servant. Forty-two percent indicated that they wouldn't want one. Those between 40 and 44 years of age were the most likely to say they would like a robot servant, while adults age 65 or older were the least likely.
Startup hires 'cyborg' Mann for Google Glass–killer project Register Watch out, Sergey!-
Watch out, Sergey! A new startup is hard at work on a device that's far more ambitious than Google Glass, and it has just signed on wearable-computing maven Steve Mann as its chief scientist.
Meta, founded by Columbia University computer and neurological science student Meron Gribetz, has developed a prototype of a wearable device that Gribetz says goes beyond simple heads-up notification systems like Glass to become a full augmented-reality system.
"The entrance into consumer wearables needs to be a high powered immersive device capable of fully replacing the computer and more," Gribetz said in an emailed statement on Tuesday.
In short, Gribetz plans to deliver nothing less than the kind of 3D, gesture-based UIs seen in such Hollywood sci-fi fare as Iron Man, Minority Report, and Avatar.
Wearers of Meta specs will be able to see virtual 3D objects overlaying the real world, he says, and they will be able to grab and manipulate them with their bare hands, without the use of gesture-sensing gloves or similar hardware.
The current Meta prototype device is the product of two years of work by Gribetz and a team of augmented reality, wearable computing, and computer vision specialists, backed by seed funding from Y Combinator.
Forget those Galaxy S4 ads, says Credit Suisse, wearables are "the next big thing." FORTUNE -- Computers one wears, rather than carries in a briefcase, backpack or pocket, are at an "inflection point" -- a market poised to explode from $3 billion to $5 billion today to as much as $30 billion to $50 billion in three to five years.
That's according to a Credit Suisse report snagged Friday by Barron's Tiernan Ray.
The theory is that smartphones are going to be the hub connecting a proliferation of small, wireless devices that will become increasingly popular as software improves, component prices fall and new business uses emerge.
"Bottom line," writes Ray, "the authors think wearables are 'a mega trend' and that 'your clients need to care' because the gizmos may have 'a significant and pervasive impact on the economy,' change how we all interact with technology, and may 'advance [the] Big Data paradigm.'"
Apple (AAPL) is likely to be one of the big winners in the new market, according to the report, along with Broadcom (BRCM), eBay (EBAY), Google (GOOG), Microchip (MCHP), NXP Semiconductor (NXPI) and, among retail stocks, Nike (NKE), Under Armour (AU) and Alliance Data Systems (ADS).
"... The basic digital venture was to have students build a TEI-encoded electronic edition of a poem by an obscure woman writer. I selected Melesina Trench’s “Laura’s Dream; or The Moonlanders” in part because, as a lunar voyage poem, its science fiction-like imagination of inhabitants on the moon prompted discussion about women and technology—helping the class to theorize both the imagination and language as early technologies. Moreover, the plot of the poem likewise allegorizes pertinent issues of pedagogy. Laura awakens from a fever-induced vision to tell her mother about her vision of the Moonlanders. While Laura’s mother dismisses these dreams as products of an over-heated brain, Laura’s allegories about the lunar beings reach toward truths culled by the young (who play with technology) and taught to an older generation. This view of technology and youthful experimentation was aimed at giving students a way to think about the process of using technology—both the ways they were being taught about it and the ways that they might instruct their teachers. Above all, students gained a new type of editorial agency that gave them permission to explore, alter, and retranslate the text for themselves and their peers. ..."
The above figure displays results from males in the General Social Survey who answer yes to the proposition that they’ve watched a pornographic film over the past year. This fact was cited in my post Porn, rape, and a ‘natural experiment’, to disabuse people of the notion that porn consumption has increased radically the past generation. I was aware of this finding, and so generally am careful to focus on the quantity of porn consumed, rather than the social penetration of porn consumption. No matter what the “survey says,” the IT sector is quite aware of the fact that pornographic material is a very high fraction of internet traffic (e.g., more people check Pornhub than BBC).
But I am not sure sure we should trust the GSS results any more at this point. I did some cursory poking around and last month there was a large sample size survey of Dutch youth to investigate the effects of porn consumption, Does Viewing Explain Doing? Assessing the Association Between Sexually Explicit Materials Use and Sexual Behaviors in a Large Sample of Dutch Adolescents and Young Adults:
The study found that 88% of men and 45% of women had consumed SEM ["sexually explicit material"] in the past 12 months. Using hierarchical multiple regression analyses to control for other factors, the association between SEM consumption and a variety of sexual behaviors was found to be significant, accounting for between 0.3% and 4% of the total explained variance in investigated sexual behaviors.
As the amount of data expands exponentially, nearly all of it carries someone’s digital fingerprints.
Much of this data is invisible to people and seems impersonal. But it’s not. What modern data science is finding is that nearly any type of data can be used, much like a fingerprint, to identify the person who created it: your choice of movies on Netflix, the location signals emitted by your cell phone, even your pattern of walking as recorded by a surveillance camera. In effect, the more data there is, the less any of it can be said to be private, since the richness of that data makes pinpointing people “algorithmically possible,” says Princeton University computer scientist Arvind Narayanan.
IN “SKYFALL”, the latest James Bond movie, 007 is given a gun that only he can fire. It works by recognising his palm print, rendering it impotent when it falls into a baddy’s hands. Like many of Q’s more fanciful inventions, the fiction is easier to conjure up than the fact. But there is a real-life biometric system that would have served Bond just as well: cardiac-rhythm recognition.
Anyone who has watched a medical drama can picture an electrocardiogram (ECG)—the five peaks and troughs, known as a PQRST pattern (see picture), that map each heartbeat. The shape of this pattern is affected by such things as the heart’s size, its shape and its position in the body. Cardiologists have known since 1964 that everyone’s heartbeat is thus unique, and researchers around the world have been trying to turn that knowledge into a viable biometric system. Until now, they have had little success. One group may, though, have cracked it.
Foteini Agrafioti of the University of Toronto and her colleagues have patented a system which constantly measures a person’s PQRST pattern, confirms this corresponds with the registered user’s pattern, and can thus verify to various devices that the user is who he says he is. Through a company called Bionym, which they have founded, they will unveil it to the world in June.
When people create and modify their virtual reality avatars, the hardships faced by their alter egos can influence how they perceive virtual environments, according to researchers presenting their findings at 2013 Annual Conference on Human Factors...
When people create and modify their virtual reality avatars, the hardships faced by their alter egos can influence how they perceive virtual environments, according to researchers.
A group of students who saw that a backpack was attached to an avatar that they had created overestimated the heights of virtual hills, just as people in real life tend to overestimate heights and distances while carrying extra weight, according to Sangseok You, a doctoral student in the school of information, University of Michigan.
"You exert more of your agency through an avatar when you design it yourself," said S. Shyam Sundar, Distinguished Professor of Communications and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory, Penn State, who worked with You. "Your identity mixes in with the identity of that avatar and, as a result, your visual perception of the virtual environment is colored by the physical resources of your avatar."
Researchers assigned random avatars to one group of participants, but allowed another group to customize their avatars. In each of these two groups, half of the participants saw that their avatar had a backpack, while the other half had avatars without backpacks, according to You.
When placed in a virtual environment with three hills of different heights and angles of incline, participants who customized their avatars perceived those hills as higher and steeper than participants who were assigned avatars by the researchers, Sundar said. They also overestimated the amount of calories it would take to hike up the hill if their custom avatar had a backpack.
"If your avatar is carrying a backpack, you feel like you are going to have trouble climbing that hill, but this only happens when you customize the avatar," said Sundar.
Twitter, Facebook, Google… we know the internet is driving us to distraction. But could sitting at your computer actually calm you down? Oliver Burkeman investigates the slow web movement
Back in the summer of 2008 – a long time ago, in internet terms, two years before Instagram, and around the time of Twitter's second birthday – the US writer Nicholas Carr published a now famous essay in the Atlantic magazine entitled Is Google Making Us Stupid? The more time he spent online, Carr reported, the more he experienced the sensation that something was eating away at his brain. "I'm not thinking the way I used to think," he wrote. Increasingly, he'd sit down with a book, but then find himself unable to focus for more than two or three pages: "I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I'm always dragging my wayward brain back to the text." Reading, he recalled, used to feel like scuba diving in a sea of words. But now "I zip along the surface like a guy on a jetski."
In the half-decade since Carr's essay appeared, we've endured countless scare stories about the life-destroying effects of the internet, and by and large they've been debunked. No, the web probably isn't addictive in the sense that nicotine or heroin are; no, Facebook and Twitter aren't guilty of "killing conversation" or corroding real-life friendship or making children autistic. Yes, the internet is "changing our brains", but then so does everything – and, contrary to the claims of one especially panicky Newsweek cover story, it certainly isn't "driving us mad".
Exoskeleton arm can lift up to 50 lb, is controlled by handheld remote
Most engineering senior design projects are an entertaining, but lack the wow factor of corporate inventions. But every once in a while you'll come across a gem.
I. Titan Arm Looks to Smash Back Problems
Among the pleasant surprises from this semester was the "MEAM Team" from the University of Pennsylvania, who offered up their own take on an upper body exoskeleton. The team was motivated by the very real problem of back disorders which affect 600,000 workers a year in the U.S. and cost the economy an estimated $50B USD. Most of these back disorders come from overexertion during lifting.
That's where the "Titan Arm" comes in.
The one-arm exoskeleton helps the user lift objects in a curl motion, sparing the user's elbow from wear and tear.
Composed of five structural members, four moveable joints, and an adjustable upper arm member, the exoskeleton is strapped on the back and onto the user's arm. The shoulder has three degress of freedom, so the user's arm is able to move relatively naturally in three-dimensional space.
Does distraction matter — do interruptions make us dumber?
TECHNOLOGY has given us many gifts, among them dozens of new ways to grab our attention. It’s hard to talk to a friend without your phone buzzing at least once. Odds are high you will check your Twitter feed or Facebook wall while reading this article. Just try to type a memo at work without having an e-mail pop up that ruins your train of thought.
But what constitutes distraction? Does the mere possibility that a phone call or e-mail will soon arrive drain your brain power? And does distraction matter — do interruptions make us dumber? Quite a bit, according to new research by Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Lab.
There’s a lot of debate among brain researchers about the impact of gadgets on our brains. Most discussion has focused on the deleterious effect of multitasking. Early results show what most of us know implicitly: if you do two things at once, both efforts suffer.
In fact, multitasking is a misnomer. In most situations, the person juggling e-mail, text messaging, Facebook and a meeting is really doing something called “rapid toggling between tasks,” and is engaged in constant context switching.
As economics students know, switching involves costs. But how much? When a consumer switches banks, or a company switches suppliers, it’s relatively easy to count the added expense of the hassle of change. When your brain is switching tasks, the cost is harder to quantify.
There have been a few efforts to do so: Gloria Mark of the University of California, Irvine, found that a typical office worker gets only 11 minutes between each interruption, while it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to the original task after an interruption. But there has been scant research on the quality of work done during these periods of rapid toggling.
We decided to investigate further, and asked Alessandro Acquisti, a professor of information technology, and the psychologist Eyal Peer at Carnegie Mellon to design an experiment to measure the brain power lost when someone is interrupted.
(Phys.org) —A team of researchers from the University of California has found that one part of the brain in rats responds differently to virtual reality than to the real world.In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes the results of brain experiments they ran with rats. They found that "place" cells in the rats' hippocampus didn't light up as much when immersed in a virtual reality experiment as they did when the rats were engaging with the real world.
Researchers in many parts of the world are studying how virtual reality works in the brain. Some do so to better learn how the brain works, others are more interested in creating games or virtual reality environments to allow people to experience things they couldn't otherwise. In either case, despite the increase in processing power and graphics capabilities, virtual reality systems just don't live up to the real world. People can always tell the difference. To find out why, the researchers in this new effort turned to rats—most specifically, their hippocampus's—the part of the brain that has been identified as building and controlling cognitive maps.
In an age when "extremely violent and sadistic imagery is two clicks away" school sex education is struggling to keep pace, a study suggests.
Pornography can distort children's attitudes to sex said Deputy Children's Commissioner Sue Berelowitz.
Urgent action is needed to develop children's resilience to extremely graphic types of porn argues the study.
The government said its curriculum changes would teach children from the age of five to stay safe online.
The report, led by the University of Middlesex and commissioned by the Office of The Children's Commissioner, suggests some children are exposed to pornography while still at primary school, and the proportion increases with age with "a significant proportion of children and young people" viewing pornography.
Lessons on relationships should start in primary school, it argues, while relationships and sex education should be compulsory in all schools and include time for pupils to discuss the impact of pornography.
Some types of online porn are "very different" to what today's parents may have seen as children, said Ms Berelowitz.
"Just a few clicks away on any mobile phone, on any tablet for example, children can find really graphic depictions of extreme and violent sexual acts."
The report suggests that pornography can affect attitudes and behaviour among children and young people.
The U.S. patent system is a popular target. Recently we have heard that big portfolios of large companies pose a threat to small inventors, “patent trolls” who exist solely to sue real companies have hijacked the marketplace for new ideas and colossal lawsuits prove that America's patent system is broken.
The patent system is indeed in the midst of a challenge. Software technology gives us the GPS in our mobile devices, CT scans that provide early health diagnostics, and other wonders, but circumscribing such technologies in a patent is difficult. Advances in genetics and biotech are critically important to treating many diseases and require huge investments that rely on patent protection, but it is often hard to know where the rights of the inventors end and the public's begin. Should 3-D print files be eligible for patent prosecution? What breadth of protection should be available for the algorithms that extract knowledge from enormous aggregations of data? Each fundamental advance calls for reexamination and adaptation, which is why the patent system is, and must be, the subject of continuous improvement.
CARY, N.C., May 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Saffron Technology, Inc., the leading global provider of cognitive computing platform solutions for anticipatory sensemaking, today announced the release of its Natural Intelligence Platform™ 2013, a universal, unified, and commercially matured approach to brain-like thinking where customers "find without knowing" to see the connections and similarities between the dots that matter and to anticipate what will happen next.
Natural Intelligence Platform 2013 includes SaffronMemoryBase®, inspired by the associative structure and function of real neural systems, SaffronAdmin™ for ETL and system management, and the new addition of SaffronAdvantage™, Saffron's end-user associative analytics solution to help analysts and knowledge workers better connect and illuminate the dots that matter.
"SaffronMemoryBase V9 builds upon Version 8 which established a breakthrough in the distributed key:value storage of the networks of associative memory networks, including real-time ingestion and real-time query through stream-based map reduce" explained Dr. Manuel Aparicio, Chief Memory Maker and cofounder. "Continuing forward, Version 9 supports both transactional and eventually consistent data ingestion for larger scale. Performance and scaling results prove linear scalability, real-time processing and record-breaking storage efficiency of unified semantic and statistical knowledge at big scale."
Makr Shakr, a giant robot bartending system, was unveiled this week at Google I/O in San Francisco.
Makr Shakr is an interactive mixology system that debuted this week at the Google I/O After Hours event in San Francisco. Here's how it works:
1. Order your drink of choice from an app on your phone
2. The ingredients are released by a drink dispenser
3. A robotic arm will finish off the drink with any necessary flourishes, like a lemon slice or a quick shake
4. Your drink is sent down a conveyor belt for easy access
The progress of your order is displayed in real-time while you wait. You can see how many people are in line ahead of you, approximately how long you will have to wait, and when your drink is ready. It also lets you know what drinks are trending that night, and you can provide input on cocktails from your phone if you think you can improve the recipe.
This all sounds awesome, but (unfortunately) the goal isn't to replace human bartenders with robotic ones. Yaniv Turgeman from MIT's SENSEable City Lab led this project to learn more about how something social, like drinking, can be influenced by technology. How might consumption patterns change if you can see what your peers are drinking? Will that influence what you order next?
New Google search tools let users talk to the search engine, send unprompted alerts based on user interests and try to predict what it will be asked next.
Google keeps trying to read our minds.
The company revealed some new search tools on Wednesday at I/O, its annual developers conference. Taken together, they are another step toward Google’s trying to become the omnipotent, human-like “Star Trek” search engine that its executives say they want it to be.
When people ask Google certain questions, it will now try to predict the person’s follow-up questions and answer them, too. Ask for the population of India, for instance, and you will also get the population of China and the United States, because Google knows those are the most common follow-up questions.
“The ‘Star Trek’ computer shouldn’t just answer questions, it should make you more intelligent, should anticipate what you expect next,” said Amit Singhal, senior vice president for search at Google, in an interview before the conference.
This is an extension of Google’s knowledge graph — its semantic search product that aims to understand the meaning of things, not just keywords. It is why a search for Barack Obama brings up links to Hillary Clinton and Honolulu, for instance.
Back in October, Alexis wrote a piece asking what rights do we have with regard to the air above our property. Walk onto someone's lawn and you're trespassing; fly over it in a helicopter and you're in the clear -- "the air is a public highway," the Supreme Court declared in 1946. But what about the in-between space? Does the availability of unmanned aerial vehicles (aka drones, aka UAVs) throw a wrench in the old legal understandings?
Well, here's where the rubber meets the road for this abstract line of questioning. The Capitol Hill Seattle Blog is reporting a complaint it received from a resident in the Miller Park neighborhood. She writes:
This afternoon, a stranger set an aerial drone into flight over my yard and beside my house near Miller Playfield. I initially mistook its noisy buzzing for a weed-whacker on this warm spring day. After several minutes, I looked out my third-story window to see a drone hovering a few feet away. My husband went to talk to the man on the sidewalk outside our home who was operating the drone with a remote control, to ask him to not fly his drone near our home. The man insisted that it is legal for him to fly an aerial drone over our yard and adjacent to our windows. He noted that the drone has a camera, which transmits images he viewed through a set of glasses. He purported to be doing "research". We are extremely concerned, as he could very easily be a criminal who plans to break into our house or a peeping-tom.
The site adds, "The woman tells us she called police but they decided not to show up when the man left."
Haworth and Obscura Digital's digital whiteboard can hold 160 acres of virtual space-
Apple (AAPL) has rolled out smaller models of its iPad. Jeff Reuschel is thinking bigger. The global design director for office-furniture maker Haworth, in partnership with interactive display company Obscura Digital, has created a touchscreen that covers a conference-room wall. Like a supersize version of CNN’s (TWX) Magic Wall, Bluescape displays a unified image across 15 linked 55-inch flat-screen monitors, each equipped with 32 specialized sensors to read users’ hand movements. Unlike whiteboards or flip charts, it won’t require much erasing or page turning: When zoomed out as far as possible, the digital board’s virtual space totals 160 acres. Using Bluescape, corporate and university clients can store often scattershot brainstorming sessions in perpetuity. Co-workers or classmates can add digital sticky notes, either with a digital pen on the wall itself or by uploading documents from other devices, from which they can also browse the virtual space. “There are fewer and fewer people working in cubicles,” says Reuschel. “The old-fashioned vertical surfaces are going away.”