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When good robots go bad… November 5, 2009

Posted by emiliekopp in robot fun.
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Mainstream television and film have given robots a bad rep. Many people carry the stigma that robots could turn against us, when really, they are performing tasks that are too dull, dirty and/or dangerous for humans to do on their own.

An interesting study was cited today on msnbc.com, where scientists at University of Washington warn consumers about the vulnerabilities our household robots may suffer and what kind of situations that might pose to their masters (think iRobot). I was contacted by the article’s author, Diane Mapes, to discuss the likelyhood of our household robots revolting against us. I tend to think that it’s highly doubtful you’d find yourself being vacuumed to death by your Roomba.

But what our conversation did entertain was the idea that one could take control and/or reprogram your vacuuming robot with a malicious content. It was quite an interesting and enjoyable conversation; there’s a spectrum of motives and possibilities.  Take a closer look here.

So what do you think? Any Roomba or Spykee owners feeling a little exposed? Is it really something we should be concerned about? Or shall we continue opening up our families to robotic additions?




Phantom of the Robopera December 19, 2008

Posted by emiliekopp in robot fun.
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Awhile back, I learned about the 3 D’s of Robotics from Dr. Al Wicks, Director of Virginia Tech’s Modal Analysis Laboratory (MAL) and golf-dynamics-extrodinaire. He said that a robot’s purpose was to do things that were either Dull, Dirty or Dangerous to humans. Meaning, if it’s boring, gross or puts a human’s life on the line, that’s typically when a robot is designed to take care of business.

This makes sense.

So I scratched my head when I read that Taiwan University has cast robots as leads in their production of The Phantom of the Opera. “The lead bots (named Thomas and Janet) can both walk, and have silicon facial “muscles” that help them mimic human expressions and mouth movements.” Whoa.

I’m struggling to think which one of the 3 D’s these robots should fall under.

Photo from switched.com

Did I mention that NI’s cofounder, Technical Fellow, and Father of LabVIEW, Jeff Kodosky, loves opera? I wonder if he might be interested in seeing this production…