David Levy's book Robots Unlimited: Life in a Virtual Age is a great introduction not only to robots, but also the various technologies that must work together in their creation: logic, artificial intelligence (AI), speech synthesis, natural language processing, sensory recognition, personality training, emotion--does it ever end? Although most people assume that we're centuries away from the invention of an intelligent, human-like android like "Data," Levy shows just how close we've gotten and just how soon we'll be interacting with amazingly smart robots on a daily basis. Robots will enhance our lives in countless ways; they'll not only help us in our daily tasks, but also become our friends and even our soul mates. They'll talk to us and show a sensitivity to our emotional states that not even our mothers could match. Furthermore, they'll be wonderful inventors and artists, breathing new life into every field of creative endeavor. Sound like science fiction? Levy shows that the only "fiction" is that robots won't play a vital role in the (near) future of the human race. David Levy will make you a believer.
From "What's New Now from Ziff Davis" Newsletter (commentary below the excerpt):
Microsoft seems to have won over skeptical robot developers with the release of its new Robotics Studio product. The product's pretty neat, it lets you program real robots, or virtual instantiations of them that live inside your PC. Even better, it's free to download and play with - you'll just pay when you actually use it to control an autonomous mechatron of your own design. Our story is chock full of details on how Microsoft won over the robotics community, what's new inside the software, and where to download it yourself, for free.
Boy, the Lego Mindstorms NXT is looking cooler and cooler. I still have the original kit and won't be getting this one for quite some time until I break the seal on that one, but this one sure looks great for those who don't already have something like this or want something especially hardcore.
From the RobotBooks.com Newsletter:
RobotBooks.com Newsletter â€“ November 21, 2006
Robot Kits, Robot Books, Robot Toys
To follow up my second technology-related blog of the day after the Sony eBook device, making the rounds via delivery truck on the Internet is news of French firm Aldebaran Robotics announcing the Nao Project.
As we've discussed many times before, the early to mid-1980's featured a type of personal robotics boom to rival that of the personal computer boom. The difference was the computer boom kept on going, while the robotics boom stalled, taking corporate interest with it.
Boy, the robot information seems to keep coming. Soon enough, we'll all have robot overlords to serve. In any case, for now, check out this newsletter update from RobotBooks.com, with lots of interesting new and compiled information for enthusiasts of computers, robots and technology:
As a lifetime technophile primarily interested in computers and videogames, another area that has always intrigued me, but been generally hands-off due to the various barriers to entry, is home robotics. There were some delightful robots and kits in the early to mid-80's to go along with the personal computer boom. However, the personal robotics boom was short lived and ultimately a much smaller niche than even the fledgling personal computer business at the time, dooming them to the domain of the truly hardcore. Today, toy and personal robots and robot kits from the likes of Tomy and Heathkit are still very much in demand. Much more recently, Lego made a strong impact in the home robotics and hobbyist field with their Mindstorms technology and Radio Shack carries an aggressive line of kit robots and accessories. Bottom line, today hobbyist robotics is stronger than ever and more practical than ever, though is still awaiting that "killer app" to truly push it into the mainstream.
Do you remember ROB the Robot for the classic NES? Now you can get a robot for your Nintendo DS. Even if he's not nearly as cute, he can do a lot more things! Check out DS ROBOT, a prototype that lets you do some pretty neat things with your DS:
There's some buzz on the net today about India's plan to raise an army of robots. What's really scary about this is how much the USA has come to rely on India's tech structure. I'm guessing that a great deal of our most sophisticated science R&D is outsourced to Bangalore. However, I'm pretty sure our kids have more experience playing first person shooters, so when war is announced, we'll be ready to take on these robots with our BFGs.