Tag Archives: robots

The A.I. revolution

The advent of Artificial Intelligent robots and their associated repercussions is a hotly debated issue. This is because humanity is on the brink of creating technology that will be able to think, and act according to their built-in perspective on the world. For example, fully autonomous weapon systems such as drones could petrol the skies capable of engaging without human interventions or an autonomous car driving someone to their desired location through a dynamic traffic system. There are a lot of positives and negatives associated with artificially intelligent machines and it’s up to us to decide if it’s worth creating such technology.

Humanity could benefit greatly from AI if controlled effectively. For instance, imagine a senior citizen with bad eyesight and poor reaction time wanting to travel to their daughter’s house 20 miles away. They can avoid taking a taxi and can have their own autonomous vehicle which plans their path and drives them to the desired location safely. This car will not only drive automatically it will have an extremely high reaction time to avoid accidents and will minimize damage if an accident is unavoidable.


YouTube Preview Image Credit to youtube user DroidTweak

AI robots can range from mini robots inside the house, which help the disabled perform daily task to autonomous airplanes that can take-off, fly, and land without any pilots on board. All of these have many positive implications for humanity because not only do they provide invaluable resources to those who are incapable but AI robots can perform most tasks better than humans.

Perhaps humanity needs to live with some of their shortcomings to prevent the apocalyptic future that some associate with the arrival of AI robots. According to the well renowned astrophysicist Professor Stephen Hawking, artificial intelligence could end mankind if we are not careful. He told the BBC:“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” His opinion stems from the fact that humans are limited by slow biological evolution and can’t possibly compete with the intelligent robots. AI robots will “evolve” faster by building better machines eventually overtaking human performance across all domains. They will then become the dominant force on Earth and could eradicate us at their on leisure.

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Credit to youtube user: DNews

Another well-known figure, Elon Musk, also voiced his opinion by saying “we are summoning the demon with artificial intelligence.” His viewpoint is similar to Hawking’s but he believes that their recursive self-improvement will eventually lead them to the realization that humans are detrimental in some regard and thus should be eliminated. “If its [function] is just something like getting rid of e-mail spam and it determines the best way of getting rid of spam is getting rid of humans…” said Musk to name an example.

Credit to youtube user: DNews

Since true AI robots have not been invented we can never really be sure how they will behave we can only speculate. Though great minds like Stephen Hawkings give us insight into the grim and darkside of AI, there is no doubt that the benefits of controlled AI are invaluable to the human race.

Written by Imran Khan

Communicating Science Through Robots

In our science communication class, we talk about different strategies and mediums to ultimately help us get our message across easily. But, have you ever thought about learning science through a robot? For one company, robot teachers aid them in their mission to introduce young people to technology and to gear students towards scientific careers. Specifically, Aldebaran has developed NAO, a robot teacher that is aimed at engaging students in computer and science classes throughout elementary school to university.

NAO, a robot teacher. Source: LinuxTag Flickr

NAO is a 58-cm tall humanoid robot that can speak, sit, stand, walk and recognize speech. The robot is also programmed to speak up to 19 different languages.

The complexity of NAO’s teaching differs depending on the education level. For example, in elementary school, NAO can help teach children their multiplication tables, whereas in university, NAO can also be used to challenge students with problems in business and society.


NAO, waving. Source: Anonimski Wikimedia Commons

For St. Dominic School, NAO has been a great addition to their science lab for the past year. They use the robot to teach elementary children the fundamentals of basic programming. For example, children learn to program its movements from kicking a soccer ball to waving hello. While this serves as a great introduction to high school, a teacher from the Career and Technical Education Academy believes its use in higher level education could also look great on résumés. Operating a robot is surely something that may impress certain information and communication technology companies.

An article in Channel NewsAsia suggests NAO’s mere presence engages students, especially students with autism. Autistic students have trouble with social interaction, thus the robot allows a different form of interaction with the student. It can respond perfectly just like a human, but the idea is that since students are more keen to play with robots, they are seen as more approachable than human teachers. In a recent research study, they show that children with autism were more engaged with their tasks and found them more enjoyable with a robot compared to an adult.

I found NAO to be an interesting innovation because it engages students in not only science, but communication skills in general. It provides some things that human teachers cannot such as hands-on programming and an enjoyable method of interaction for autistic students. NAO may not be a necessary tool in helping students, but it is definitely a creative and innovative option for schools that want to try something new. With a hefty price tag of $7,990, NAO is unfortunately only limited to schools that have the sufficient funds to afford it. Hopefully, the robot can be much more affordable in the future so it can be used under a broader spectrum.

Check out this video below by AldebaranRobotics, showing NAO being used in a British primary school’s class.

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-Ian Villamin