Friday, January 27, 2012

Google's Driverless Robot Car

"Collision in the Making Between Self-Driving Cars and How the World Works"

"SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Even as Google tests its small fleet of self-driving vehicles on California highways, legal scholars and government officials are warning that society has only begun wrestling with the changes that would be required in a system created a century ago to meet the challenge of horseless carriages.

What happens if a police officer wants to pull one of these vehicles over? When it stops at a four-way intersection, would it be too polite to take its turn ahead of aggressive human drivers (or equally polite robots)? What sort of insurance would it need?

These and other implications of what Google calls autonomous vehicles were debated by Silicon Valley technologists, legal scholars and government regulators last week at a daylong symposium sponsored by the Law Review and High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University.
As Google has demonstrated, computerized systems that replace human drivers are now largely workable and could greatly limit human error, which causes most of the 33,000 deaths and 1.2 million injuries that now occur each year on the nation’s roads.

Such vehicles also hold the potential for greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions — and, more broadly, for restoring the United States’ primacy in the global automobile industry.

But questions of legal liability, privacy and insurance regulation have yet to be addressed, and an array of speakers suggested that such challenges might pose far more problems than the technological ones..."

Read this article at its source:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Teach English Skills with MACHINARIUM, Robot Theme Video Game?

"How to engage the disengaged: an English teacher discovers digital literacy really works"

Kenny Pieper
Guardian Professional, Monday 5 December 2011

"Long before the dizzy heights of, sometimes, twelve views per day on my blog, when I started blogging in January, I was about to undertake a project which would completely rejuvenate my classroom and my approach to teaching.

Inanimate Alice grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and shook me about a little bit. It did indeed turn out to be storytelling but not as we know it. I like to think I've never looked back. Making this blog post somewhat redundant, you might think. What I learned from the experience was that there is another way. I have never come across a resource which fires up the reluctant learner more than the digital storytelling power of Inanimate Alice . Perhaps until now.

Digital literacy has its critics, however, and I'm not sure I would recommend it for all ability groups. I became an English teacher because I was inspired by books, poems, and plays and wanted to share that love of language with others. I still get a thrill when they "get" Hamlet or Macbeth, The Catcher in the Rye or Lord of the Flies, November or Out, out-; but there are kids who will never get it, whatever "it" may be, will never belong to that world. We need to do something about that.

My class of demotivated learners – the same class who undertook the Sugata Mitra/Carol Dweck lesson earlier in the year – have been working on Machinarium. If you haven't heard of it yet it's a puzzle point-and-click adventure game developed by Amanita Design (thank you Wikipedia) and, as a stimulus for lots of quality writing, it is simply wonderful. There is a free three level demo which my class have been working on but the downloaded paid version has thirty levels. I gave my lot a handful of lap tops and left them to it.

It doesn't fit the mould of the usual "shooty gun" games they are used to and challenges them to work out problems and think of strategies and sequences. I ensured that they got a taste of their own medicine as I replied, "I don't know" to every question, but the initial confusion was quickly overcome as one pair, then another, then everyone began to manoeuvre through the stages. Their sense of achievement as they moved on was something they have struggled to find this year. The classroom was buzzing..."

Read the full article at its source:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

More Robot Teachers

"Students, Meet Your New Teacher, Mr. Robot

LOS ANGELES — The boy, a dark-haired 6-year-old, is playing with a new companion.

The two hit it off quickly — unusual for the 6-year-old, who has autism — and the boy is imitating his playmate’s every move, now nodding his head, now raising his arms.

“Like Simon Says,” says the autistic boy’s mother, seated next to him on the floor.

Yet soon he begins to withdraw; in a video of the session, he covers his ears and slumps against the wall.

But the companion, a three-foot-tall robot being tested at the University of Southern California, maintains eye contact and performs another move, raising one arm up high.

Up goes the boy’s arm — and now he is smiling at the machine.

In a handful of laboratories around the world, computer scientists are developing robots like this one: highly programmed machines that can engage people and teach them simple skills, including household tasks, vocabulary or, as in the case of the boy, playing, elementary imitation and taking turns.

So far, the teaching has been very basic, delivered mostly in experimental settings, and the robots are still works in progress, a hackers’ gallery of moving parts that, like mechanical savants, each do some things well at the expense of others.

Yet the most advanced models are fully autonomous, guided by artificial intelligence software like motion tracking and speech recognition, which can make them just engaging enough to rival humans at some teaching tasks..."

Read the full article at its source:

Robot Helps Kids with Autism Communicate 

AND this excellent article...

"The RUBI Project: Preschoolers and autistic children benefit from teacher robots

Computer scientists from the University of Southern California have designed a three-foot-tall robot named “RUBI” to teach autistic children using repetitive therapy.
The researchers believe that RUBI could help “train” an autistic child to learn various social interactions, such as how to understand one’s personal space, and how to identify sad or happy emotions. (Researchers state that essentially RUBI was designed to “act like a cautious child hoping to join a playground game”). Although RUBI wasn’t programmed to speak, it does have to two words in can pronounce: “Uh-huh,” whenever a child comes closer to it, or “Aww,” if the child moves away. The robot is also designed to maintain eye contact, and can move its arms up and down.
The researchers have already tested RUBI on a 6-year-old autistic child, and throughout their teaching session he was interacting with the robot, and even mimicked its movements. RUBI was also tested on a preschooling class, and the researchers claim that the robot actually improved their test scores. However, when RUBI was first introduced to the preschoolers, two males students started to pick on the robot and pulled its arms off. The engineers then programmed RUBI to cry when its arms were pulled, and amazingly enough the children backed off as soon as they heard the robot’s sobs.

Will robots eventually replace human teachers? In South Korea, it’s already happening..."

Read the full article at its source:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

So are robots getting all the good jobs?

"It's a Man vs. Machine Recovery

Companies have been buying technology instead of hiring, and Okun's Law is broken"

"The U.S. produces almost one-quarter more goods and services today than it did in 1999, while using almost precisely the same number of workers. It’s as if $2.5 trillion worth of stuff—the equivalent of the entire U.S. economy circa 1958—materialized out of thin air.

Although businesses haven’t added many people, they’ve certainly bulked up on machines. Spending on equipment and software hit an all-time high in the third quarter of 2011. “Huge advances in technology have allowed businesses to do more with less,” vaporizing jobs for everyone from steelworkers to travel agents, President Barack Obama warned in December.

So are robots getting all the good jobs? This year may provide the answer as the economy gathers steam. Most economists, cheered by 540,000 hires since Labor Day, say technology inevitably destroys some jobs even as it ultimately creates new ones. But with more than 20 million Americans still jobless or underemployed, others worry that something fundamental has changed. “What’s different now is the speed and scale of what’s happening,” says Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Center for Digital Business. Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, co-authors of the recently published book Race Against the Machine, argue that the economy is in the early stages of a “Great Restructuring” that is hollowing out the labor market and exacerbating inequality.

Nonsense, say economists including James D. Hamilton of the University of California at San Diego. There’s nothing new about machines replacing people. In 1900, 41 percent of Americans worked on farms. Today, thanks to labor-saving tractors and combines, the figure is less than 2 percent. Yet ex-farm workers found new jobs. And as manufacturing grew leaner in recent decades, factory workers—or their children—migrated to finance, health care, computers, and other growing industries."

Read the full article at its source: 

Significat curriculum connection - Kurt Vonnegut's Novel "Player Piano" 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

ROBOT APPs - an insight into the emerging/exploding business of Robotics

Here's an interesting item  (Robot-Apps"Info-Graphic) that was submitted to this blog via email (below), but first check out the video this group created to introduce it: .

A larger version of the info-graphic below can be seen  at its source: (scroll down the page).

Robot Apps Infographics