The Musings of

Something full of magic, religion, bullsh*t.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

10 minutes with : Robots

The radio nerds over at NPR went all ga-ga for robots this morning. There were two separate stories regarding advances in robotics.

The first story concerned self-replicating robots. NPR first talked to some egghead up at Cornell who has figured out a way to make cubes of what is apparently Jello© copy themselves (video). The second Einstein is over at Johns Hopkins and has created self-replicating robots out of the basic building block for all nerd construction, Legos©.

As you can tell by the video, Cornell is way ahead of Johns Hopkins in basic videotaping technology. Who did JHU get to film this thing, some junior high audio-visual club member with an old 8mm? I mean, if I was going to be on the cutting edge of robotics, I think I would invest in some production -- maybe some 3D graphics and a semi-famous narrator. Hell, at least get some color film. I can't even tell these are Legos. In other news, this guy has been hired to direct the next They Might Be Giants video.

The videos, despite their disparate quality, do bring something to the table that was missing from the NPR report. Having scientists describe their robots is even more boring and difficult to understand than seeing them.

To it's credit, NPR did touch on the key issue here: Robots taking over the world. Mr. John Hopkins stated that such comparisons were silly and unrealistic. However, his wife said that whenever he hears Arnold Schwarzenegger's voice he craps himself and immediately drops into the fetal position. I'm kidding, of course. Like a grown man who spends all of his time playing with Legos© could find someone willing to marry him.

Anyway, when robots take over the world and kill all of the humans or turn them into batteries, you can thank these jokers and their hubris. Of course, I'd be willing to overlook the threat if they would just invent a robot that actually does something useful.

The second story concerned the 2005 RoboCup U.S. Open that was held recently at Georgia Tech. It seems that the single most exciting event in this robot-only competition was where teams competed to design and produce a robot dog that could roll a ball across a field with its nose, thus bringing stupid pet tricks to the highest technical sophistication. The narrator noted that the organizers' ultimate goal was to create a robot soccer team good enough to compete against humans. Whee. As if watching people play soccer against each other wasn't bad enough, now my evenings at the nursing home will be spent watching David Beckham's kids play R2D2 in the World Cup.

Maybe SkyNET would be a blessing.
Centinel 10:50 AM #


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