21st Century Robotics (Scientific American Special Online by Scientific American

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Extra info for 21st Century Robotics (Scientific American Special Online Issue No. 14)

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The ability to do mathematical calculations, of course, was irrelevant for survival. Nevertheless, as language transformed human culture, at least a small part of our brains evolved into a universal machine of sorts. One of the hallmarks of such a machine is its ability to follow an arbitrary set of instructions, and with language, such instructions could be transmitted and carried out. But because we visualize numbers as complex shapes, write them down and perform other such functions, we process digits in a monumentally awkward and inefficient way.

IRobot has not set a price for the CoWorker yet, but it is already shipping prototype versions to businesses that want to evaluate the technology. The company also plans to introduce a telepresence robot for home use. Such a device could be a lifeline for senior citizens living alone; the robot would allow nurses and relatives to see whether an elderly person is ill or needs immediate help. Will these mechanical avatars soon be knocking on your door? The fundamental challenge of telepresence is not technological but psychological: I, for one, would have a lot of trouble keeping a straight face if a robot sat next to me at one of our magazine’s staff meetings.

AI: THE TUMULTUOUS HISTORY OF THE SEARCH FOR ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. Daniel Crevier. Basic Books, 1993. ROBOT: MERE MACHINE TO TRANSCENDENT MIND. Hans Moravec. Oxford University Press, 1999. 32 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN EXCLUSIVE ONLINE ISSUE MAY 2004 COPYRIGHT 2004 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, INC. CONSUMER ROBOTS Plug-and-Play Robots Originally published in April 2004 PERSONAL ROBOTS MAY SOON BE AS CHEAP AND CUSTOMIZABLE AS PERSONAL COMPUTERS BY W. ” I wonder as I stand before a nondescript storefront, formerly a tattoo parlor, in the tiny borough of Youngwood, Pa.

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