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The Rise of the 3-D Printers

September 30, 2010

This year, the talk in online discussions, at conferences and among the nerdosphere is all about 3-D printing.

One of the fascinating aspects of this technology is that it is so diverse. There are open-source products, like 3-D printers that cost as little as $650 from MakerBot, based in the Brooklyn. And there are high-end 3-D printer options from companies like Dimension Printing, which begin at around $20,000. And… read more

The Rise of the Answerbots

May 6, 2009

IBM’s new DeepQA project, aimed at creating a program that can beat humans at the question-answering game of Jeopardy, and the European Large Knowledge Collider project could mean that these projects are on the path to creating a human-level AI.

The Rise of the Body Bots

October 10, 2005

The most advanced exoskeleton projects are at the University of California, Berkeley, and at Sarcos Research Corp., in Salt Lake City. Both are funded under a $50 million, five-year program begun by DARPA in 2001. During the past several months, each group has been working on a second-generation exoskeleton that is a huge improvement over its predecessor.

The rise of the emotional robot

April 7, 2008

Figuring out just how far humans are willing to go in shifting the boundaries towards accepting robots as partners rather than mere machines will help designers decide what tasks and functions are appropriate for robots.

To work out which kinds of robots are more likely to coax social responses from humans, researchers led by Frank Heger at Bielefeld University in Germany are scanning the brains of people as they… read more

The rise of the machines

December 5, 2003

She’s young, beautiful, and fluent in several languages. Sakura Sanae, one of the newest entrants to the Japanese diplomatic corps, and Tokyo’s goodwill ambassador to the ASEAN nations, is also entirely computer generated….

The Rise of the Machines

October 13, 2008

“Somehow the genius quants — the best and brightest geeks Wall Street firms could buy — fed $1 trillion in subprime mortgage debt into their supercomputers, added some derivatives, massaged the arrangements with computer algorithms and — poof! — created $62 trillion in imaginary wealth,” says Richard Dooling.

“It’s not much of a stretch to imagine that all of that imaginary wealth is locked up somewhere inside the computers,… read more

The rise of the new groupthink

January 16, 2012


We need to move beyond the New Groupthink, which has overtaken our workplaces, our schools, and our religious institutions, suggests Susan Cain, author of the forthcoming book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

“Studies show that open-plan offices make workers hostile, insecure and distracted,” she says. “They’re also more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, stress, the flu and exhaustion. And people whose… read more

The RoboRoach: control a living insect from your smartphone

June 11, 2013


The RoboRoach, a Kickstarter project, is the “world’s first commercially available cyborg” — part cockroach and part machine.

The backpack communicates directly to the roach’s neurons in its antennas via small electrical pulses.

The cockroach undergoes a short surgery (under anesthesia) in which wires are placed inside the antenna. Once it recovers, a backpack is temporarily placed on its back.

When you send a command… read more

The Robot Ate My Homework

February 20, 2003

Robots are helping kids who are hospitalized for long periods by trauma or chronic illness keep up with school.

One goes to school in the absent child’s place. Another in the hospital transmits an image of the child’s face to the classroom. The child can direct the school robot to raise its hand to ask a question or swivel its head to follow the teacher.

The Robot Evolution

November 14, 2002

MIT’s Rodney A. Brooks is among researchers leading the charge to develop a smarter and more useful artificial creature.

“What we need is low-cost dexterous manipulation,” Brooks says. “Right now we don’t even have high- cost dexterous manipulation.”

The robot gets connected

February 5, 2003

Mitsubishi has developed a robot on wheels that will become a house-sitter, caretaker, nurse and friend for the family.

It has cameras and voice and face recognition capabilities that allow the machine to search for and follow voices, faces and movements. It links to the Internet and can send its camera images to mobile phones and computers away from the home. It can also be programmed to send e-mail… read more

The Robot in the Next Cubicle

January 17, 2011


More and more robots are being designed to handle the jobs now done by white-collar office workers. For instance, the HRP-4 humanoid robot ($350,000), developed by Kawada Industries, is designed to pour coffee, deliver mail, and recognize its co-workers’ faces.

The QB, another office robot, is a “remote presence robot” designed to reduce the need for business travel. The QB is controlled through a Web browser and keyboard, and… read more

The robot revolution is just beginning

April 26, 2012


Rodney Brooks’ “lips are sealed,” as The Economist put it last week, about what exactly he and Heartland Robotics are up to in a converted warehouse in South Boston’s Innovation District. But venture capitalists have already gambled $32 million on the premise that whatever it is they produce, it’s going to set a whole new direction in the field.

Rodney Brooks has just resigned as MIT’s Panasonic Professor of Robotics… read more

The robot that thinks like you…

November 4, 2005

“Scientists built a robot that thinks like we do and set it loose to explore the world. New Scientist discovers what happened next

“The infant crawls across a floor strewn with blocks, grabbing and tasting as it goes, its malleable mind impressionable and hungry to learn. Before my eyes it is already adapting, discovering that the striped blocks are yummy and the spotted ones taste bad.

“Its exploration… read more

The Robot Won’t Bite You, Dear

July 16, 2003

Fear of robots and other supposedly sentient technology is what motivated organizers to host ArtBots, held in New York City this past weekend. Exhibits included:

  • BabyBott looked like a giant baby bottle and cooed when it was cuddled. Its talent: making people take care of it.
  • Tribblation, a sort of whiskered soccer ball ‘bot, was particularly popular with younger ArtBots attendees. Trib has hundreds of pressure,
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