Wednesday, 25 July 2007

How will you feel about your Robot?

The most effective way to find and destroy a land mine is to step on it.

This has bad results, of course, if you're a human. But not so much if you're a robot and have as many legs as a centipede sticking out from your body. That's why Mark Tilden, a robotics physicist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, built something like that.

At the Yuma Test Grounds in Arizona, the autonomous robot, 5 feet long and modeled on a stick-insect, strutted out for a live-fire test and worked beautifully, he says.

Every time it found a mine, blew it up and lost a limb, it picked itself up and readjusted to move forward on its remaining legs, continuing to clear a path through the minefield.

Finally it was down to one leg. Still, it pulled itself forward. Tilden was ecstatic. The machine was working splendidly.

The human in command of the exercise, however -- an Army colonel -- blew a fuse.

The colonel ordered the test stopped.

Why? asked Tilden. What's wrong?

The colonel just could not stand the pathos of watching the burned, scarred and crippled machine drag itself forward on its last leg.

This test, he charged, was inhumane.

Fly little Fly!

A life-size, robotic fly has taken flight at Harvard University. Weighing only 60 milligrams, with a wingspan of three centimeters, the tiny robot's movements are modeled on those of a real fly.

While much work remains to be done on the mechanical insect, the researchers say that such small flying machines, in swarming 1000s, could one day be used as spies, or for detecting harmful chemicals, and even clean your house dust up.

An Age of Continuous Discontinuity.

Charles Handy the Author, Businessman and Philosopher said back in the 1980s that we are entering ‘The Age of Discontinuity.’

He meant that both technological and social changes will be so uncompromising and dramatic that competitive contexts and the pace at which we have to learn and adjust to will be a wrenching experience.

The evidence since the 80s is plan to see. The Internet is radically changing every kind of media: TV, Radio, Advertising, Music, Retail, Purchasing, Cost Centres, Disintermediation, etc, etc.

Hyperinnovation is transforming what we consider the car, the bank account, energy supply, the telephone, the camera, food stuff, and even high finance to be.

But I think Handy didn’t go far enough. Because what’s around the corner lies what I call The Age of Continuous Discontinuity.

There are dozens of life changing technologies now in the lab, ready for commercialisation.

1. Nanofacturing will allow you to print out domestic products in the comfort of your own home.

2. Hydrogen Fuelcells at a price point we can all afford.

3. Super efficient and cheap solar panels that will supply of you domestic energy needs.

4. Skycars and Skyways are not on the drawing board, but functional prototypes have been in test for years.

5. Dozens of different designs of domestic humanoid robots exists designed to help the infirm, elderly, and do the washing up.

6. Immersive high definition virtual reality and telepresence will enable you to visit far of places, again in the comfort of your own home.

7. Strong Artificial Intelligence that will one day soon surpass human intelligence, giving us the capability to explore ideas, science and technology that will have no conception of at present.

All of these technologies and the associated sociological ramifications will be here before 2025. Are you ready for The Age of Continuous Discontinuity?

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

'Knowledge is power.'

Sir Francis Bacon.

'Innovative knowledge is ultimate power.'

Chris Harris.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

The Late Youth Boom.

Look at Mick Jagger and Tom Jones! Look at Raquel Welch and Jone Collins! Something’s going on! 60 (for many) is the new 40s! The over 60s are growing massively in terms of population, wealth and longevity.

More 60 years young hit the golf course than any other age. The buying power (capital and spare cash) of the over 60s is almost 3 times that of the 30 somethings in the UK. The dominate market in the USA is the mature market.

Between now and 2012 the 18-44 age group will decline by 1%. 55+ will increase by 21%. 55-64 will increase by 47%.

The mean natural mortality rate age in the developed west for males is 76, and 78 for females. Only, the overall stat is skewed, as nearly 30% now make into their 90s. For the first time in human history the are more over 60s than under 16s.

Implications?: Design and market for youthful 60+ year olds with bad backs (et al). Rolling Stones concerts 2010, even 2020! Yes, even more golf courses.