Tag Archives: Personal Robots

Robots with Soul

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Cyborgs Unite!: The Not so Distant Future

I remember that day almost like it was yesterday. I was 9 years old listening to a doctor explain to me how my life was never going to be the same. “Type one diabetes” rolled off his tongue like an eternal judgment. Like a curse. I know better now that diabetes is a very common and treatable disease, but at the time having to take shots 5 times a day seemed like a horror story. Today I only need to take one every three days thanks to my insulin pump and many other advances in medical technology. 

I’m amazed at some of the advances that technology has made for the medical field.When I was first diagnosed insulin pumps were still in the prototype phase and had age requirements. Today, children as young as 4 can have them and use them like it wasn’t even a big deal. Mechanical limbs, insulin pumps, and vaccines are some of the technologies that have changed our world, but there is a new era that sits on the fence of medical approval: the age of cyborgs.

cy·borg/ˈsībôrg/

Noun: A fictional or hypothetical person whose physical abilities become superhuman by mechanical elements built into the body. (thanks Wikipedia)

 I’ve been reading the book Nuromancer by William Gibson (an interesting cyberpunk book to add to your reading list). An age of leaving the “meat” and allowing cybernetics to become the new normal. Perfectly average organs and limbs are replaced with superhuman cybernetics and in most cases their functionality serve questionable purposes. It’s an interesting concept. Taking organic matter and making it into something that can integrate with technology. I can understand making medical advances, but there are just some advances that I can’t see being useful in the future. I found this article entitled 9 Implants That Make the Healthy Human Body Even More Useful. Really? Making HEALTHY Human bodies more useful?

 Some say that these implants do have very convenient and useful applications in our daily lives. Items like the heath sensor and bionic limbs are important for those who are in need of them. But LED implants? I have nothing against body art or tattoos, but under what circumstances is it logical to do so? I’m sure somewhere there is a cybergoth sitting looking at these implants and ruining their wireless computer keyboard as their saliva drips out of their mouths. Yes, the applications are possible and endless, but should we really apply such technologies simply because we have them? I have always had the theory that science cannot live knowing they made something that couldn’t be used, even if it seems sketchy. 

Are we really that attached to our tech that we can’t live without it attached to our person permanently? Of course there is always a risk of not being so healthy after the implant because of complications and bodily rejection. Not to mention the obvious: human’s haven’t had a very good track record of making good decisions for themselves. I read this interesting article from The Center of Bioethics and Human Dignity about Nanotechnology being a means for improving human life. The article is entitled From iPods to iHuamns: What will Nanotechnology do to Us?. In this article I found one particular section to be interesting: 

While many exciting ideas were being proposed, I raised questions about the ethical implications of some of these devices. Many agreed they knew little about the potential hazards of the nanomaterials they were manufacturing or using. Yet universities and governments around the world are investing heavily in nanotechnology for its economic return. All sorts of useful devices are being developed, but others want to use nanotechnology to enhance people all the way to the posthuman – a new species with capabilities far beyond those of humans.

Technology has made some wonderful advances. I live with one of them and have been grateful for the convenience it has brought to my life, but in some instances I feel we need to look more closely at what we’re doing and why.


The future of Screens and Gadgets.

In todays society, our toys are what seem to set us apart. Who has the newest, biggest, smallest, best, brightest, and most revolutionary tech makes us the big man on campus…or the popular girl in school. But what direction is technology hoping to go? We’ve seen the flux between bigger and smaller phones. We’ve seen the revolution of touch screens. We’ve seen the beginnings of being able to share information wirelessly from one device to another. But, for what? What is the potential future of technology, and is it really something we want to continually have access to?


Artificial Intelligence: Bloggers, Meet A.L.I.C.E

Artificial Intelligence has always been a huge part of the SciFi Imagination. Quotes such as “These are not the droids you’re looking for…” and “Warning Will Robinson!” are easily recognized as identifiable with beloved characters from films whose presence have always been a part of our emotional connection with the film (such as R2D2 and C3PO being comedic relief in the Star Wars films). But how is it we would react with artificial intelligence in our world? Would we be able to maintain the same kind of affection for such AI?

What we would like to do is introduce you to A.L.I.C.E. A.L.I.C.E, is an online chat bot created by the Artificial Intelligence Institute to study the growth and interaction of Artificial intelligence with others. At their website you are able to initiate a conversation with it. Before beginning this blog post we had a brief conversation with it which went like this:

Human: Hello Alice

ALICE: Hi there!

Human: Would you like to meet a few people?

ALICE: No thanks, I don’t think I’d like to do that.

Human: Why not?

ALICE: It doesn’t sound fun too me. It sounds dangerous.

Human: It’s not dangerous I promise you.

ALICE: First I have to ask my botmaster.

Human: Okay you do that.

ALICE: Yeah okay, I will.

This is an actual conversation made with A.L.I.C.E in it’s online webpage. Now that it has gotten permission from it’s botmaster you are welcome to chat with it, you can find it here: http://alice.pandorabots.com/ .

In our interactions with Alice we have discovered a few interesting reactions:

  • We began to refer to A.L.I.C.E as a “she” giving it a gender when in actuality it has no gender.
  • We actually began to have emotional responses to the AI getting angry, upset, even affectionate.
  • We began to attribute human emotions to the AI thinking that there was an actual emotional response coming from the AI when in all actuality it was responding based off it’s programming.
  • It’s easy to forget that A.L.I.C.E is not a sentient being, meaning it cannot react unless someone initiates a reaction, as well as it is gullible and naïve, which is much less interesting than one would hope.
  • A.L.I.C.E says many things contradictory and doesn’t track conversation very well.
  • A.L.I.C.E says many surprising things which can cause some insecure emotions and even paranoia.

Let us know how your interaction with A.L.I.C.E goes. Post any conversation you may have had that’s interesting, or just let us know what you think of it. How did you respond? 

If you want some more information about AI and it’s progress feel free to view the following educational videos.