Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Common Ground Between Robots and Humans: Machines of Loving Grace


"Two Paths Toward Our Robot Future"
From The New Yorker - October 1, 2015
"In 1970, Life magazine published an article about a Stanford University research project that had resulted in the construction of what it called the first-ever “electronic person.” This creature, called Shakey, was a six-foot-tall robot on wheels, and it looked like a filing cabinet carrying around an elaborate video camera. It was an early experiment in artificial intelligence, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, or DARPA—the technological research arm of the Pentagon—and conceived by the Canadian applied physicist Charles Rosen. It was the first robot designed to be entirely autonomous, to reason and make decisions based on information about its environment. Shakey was intended as a prototype for more advanced automatons that would eventually replace human beings in dangerous and hostile territories, and its makers saw it as the advance guard of a near future in which humans would be emulated, and eventually replaced, by intelligent machines. Shakey’s degree of autonomy was much more limited than that suggested by Life’s Promethean claims; its movements were slow and halting, and its battery tended to die after a few minutes of juddering operation. But many of the project’s innovations eventually entered the bloodstream of modern technology: the mapping software in your smartphone, for instance, was first used in Shakey, and Siri’s voice-command technology is a successor of a speech-control mechanism that was pioneered for the project.

Shakey is introduced in the early pages of John Markoff’s new book, “Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots,” as an example of an ongoing conflict between artificial intelligence and the linked but divergent project of intelligence augmentation. (The robot was intended to replace people in specific situations, but its technologies wound up augmenting the intelligence, or at least the efficiency, of flesh-and-blood humans.) Markoff begins with the story of Bill Duvall, a young programmer hired to write code for Shakey. Duvall became frustrated with the limitations of the robotics project and decamped to another research group, just down the hall at Stanford Research Institute, which was engaged in an entirely different sort of enterprise, called the N.L.S., or “oN-Line System.” This project, led by a computer scientist named Doug Engelbart, was aimed at creating “an interactive system to capture knowledge and organize information in such a way that it would now be possible for a small group of people—scientists, engineers, educators—to create and collaborate more effectively.” The project, in other words, was an early version of the Internet. Not long after walking down the hall and leaving Shakey to its own limited and whirring devices, Duvall used Engelbart’s N.L.S. software to connect a computer in Menlo Park to one in Los Angeles via a data line rented from a phone company. “Bill Duvall,” as Markoff puts it, “would become the first to make the leap from research to replace humans with computers to using computers to augment the human intellect, and one of the first to stand on both sides of an invisible line that even today divides two rival, insular engineering communities.” ...

Read the full article at its source: 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

New App for Student Robots Teaches Kids to Code

Got an announcement for this new offering in my in box this morning. Very appealing!


"Hello - Wonder Workshop announces the release of 'Wonder,' the new mobile application for award-winning robots Dash and Dot. Wonder embeds coding and robotics into a child’s world of play and is designed to code the way we think, encouraging children 8 and up to explore and create with their favorite pair of bots.."

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Student Robot We've Been Waiting For?

Perhaps!... This looks to be a very promising item... take a look at the general consumer video (below) and the EDUCATION oriented video below that. I'll be taking a closer look at this resource down the road!

PS - And I recommend that you take a look at this provider's website, as well:!/starwars

Young Girl Programs Robot to Protect Her Room from Intruders

This showed up in my e-mail in box today (from Dexter Industries).
I'll be checking this out further, down the road.


An interesting idea...

"She learned her skills in a test group for GoBox, our new robot subscription Kickstarter!

Watch the full movie of "Agent KK", an 11-year old from Florida, figured out how to program the GoPiGo to stop her siblings from intruding!"

Thursday, July 30, 2015

LocoRobo: Up and Coming Student Robotics Resource

I recently became aware of LocoRobo - Check  out its informational video (below)... seems to me that this group has made all the right moves to come up with a kid-friendly resource set that's guaranteed to capture young imaginations, generate excitement, and provide exactly the right learning opportunities. Classroom Robotics Blog will be reporting again on this most interesting and most promising resource as it moves forward!


LocoRobo - Master Programming Through Robotics from Loco Robo on Vimeo.

"Ever wondered what powers your flight tracking app? Ever wondered how you can record several TV shows at the same time? Ever wondered how NASA's MARS ROVER is able to beam back to earth breathtaking images of Martian landscape?

The answer is one word: Software. Software is what allows us humans to perform super-human tasks. And to write software, one needs to program.

LocoRobo's mission is to advance programming and robotics education for everyone by combining a world-class programing ecosystem with a high quality robot.

Checks us out on IndieGoGo -"

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Bristle BOTs! Robots as easy to make as brushing your teeth (almost)


Great hands-on STEM oriented FUN Activity! Here's a nice contextualizing presentation on this idea from the PBS Design Squad show...
Bristle Bots
Want to make a robot? Watch as Design Squad shows you how to make a mini robot that skitters around the room! (see video, above)...
More on Bristle Bots: