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July 20, 2019 - CHAPTER 4 - A Day in the Life of a Robot 
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Post July 20, 2019 - CHAPTER 4 - A Day in the Life of a Robot
This chapter begins with the résumé of a computer. The year is 2019 and computer is 58 years old. It's been repaired several times; one time its memory was restored by "tape."

Clarke says that by 2019 the descendants of the machine like the one in the résumé will be involved in every occupation. He says we will work alongside the machines and live with them. Our homes will be a kind of robot, with all of its systems controlled by a central computer. Meals could be prepared for us by a machine that's part refrigerator, part oven. Vacuuming may be done by machines that come out of hiding according to pre-programmed schedules. Homes will become more "robot friendly"--sleek inside, with fewer obstacles that might trip up machines. Personal robots will do things like set the table, take out the garbage and so on. Because the workplace will be so roboticized, we'll have lots of time to walk our robocats and dogs.

From the home of the future Clarke goes to the job of the future and says that robots will dominate industry. "The factory of 2019 won't have humans on the production lines." Nearly true, from what I've seen of today's assembly lines. Clarke says robots will take many forms--clusters of arms, smart carts and so forth. True again. He says that individual machines in work settings will be supervised by other machines, and he uses the example of HAL, the computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey. HAL permeates the spacecraft. Clarke says that labor unions will shrink as there are fewer dues-paying members, but the upside to that is that the laid off will have plenty of time to walk their robodogs.

Robots will be relied on to carry out the more dangerous jobs--working in nuclear reactors, firefighting, mining. They will need to work independently and quickly in such environments, so that means they'll have advanced brains. And their optics will be capable of seeing multiple spectra.

Robots will also perform many farm jobs. They'll scan for weeds and spray them with insecticides. They'll also collect chicken eggs, a sensitive job that will require a kind of epidermis full of electronic sensors.

Hostile environments like the deep sea and outer space will be populated by remote-controlled robots. Clarke says the current (1986) space shuttle arm will evolve into arms that are serpentine and perhaps a mile long. He says robots will be guided by people wearing exoskeleton control suits, and eventually the robots will be self-guiding.

Description of such advances leads Clarke to consider the military uses of robots in the future. He mentions Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, which prevent robots from harming humans through action or inaction. But Clarke's a practical guy and knows better. He says a killer robot was unveiled in 1984, a sentry with machine guns and a grenade launcher. He also says that not wanting to place soldiers in harm's way will be the military's justification for developing lethal robots.

At the end of the chapter Clarke says that someday robots will be able to procreate. Mankind will develop machines capable of making other machines like themselves. Homo Sapiens may be replaced by the tool it created.

THOUGHTS: Clarke covers so much ground in this chapter that I'm not sure which of his predictions came true. Recently I saw a video of a clunky apple-picking robot, but that's a newly-developed device, so I assume we're not as far along as Clarke thought we would be in farming.

But human nature being what it is, I expect we're farther along with killer robots. Below are some links that go to pages of videos showing state-of-the-art robotics. Keep in mind that no military is ever going to allow public scrutiny of its true cutting-edge technology:

duckduckgo.com/?q=most+advanced+robots& ... ;ia=videos

duckduckgo.com/?q=boston+dynamics+robot ... ;ia=videos

Putin's robo-nauts prepare for lift-off: Russia's space agency releases eerie footage of human-like android Fedor as he gets ready to join the International Space Station crew next week
dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-735 ... Fedor.html



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Post Re: July 20, 2019 - CHAPTER 4 - A Day in the Life of a Robot
I'm still reading this chapter, but Clarke definitely nails the vacuum robot, describing the Roomba accurately. Robots haven't made greater inroads because we underestimated the extreme difficulty of programming a robot for seemingly mundane tasks like taking out the garbage. Current robots require precision. Where I work if a stamped disc is warped by 1/32", the robot cannot pick it up.

I agree with you on killer robots. Drones are an intermediate step, allowing humans to control large heavily armed aircraft from a base far away, deadly results with zero risk to the operators' lives. Self-driving cars are gaining millions of of miles of experience, no mass market yet, but we can see this coming. Similarly, killer robots are a longer ways off, but we understand the drive and some of the risks for developing them. Perhaps drone / human operated robots will rule for quite a while, but I expect semi-autonomous killer bots are inevitable.



Sun Aug 18, 2019 4:42 pm
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Post Re: July 20, 2019 - CHAPTER 4 - A Day in the Life of a Robot
This story is out today:

US Navy to build £330m world’s largest robot warship to patrol the most dangerous seas
thesun.co.uk/news/9747088/us-navy-robot ... -unmanned/


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Post Re: July 20, 2019 - CHAPTER 4 - A Day in the Life of a Robot
Quote:
The idea of robots giving birth to other robots is hardly fantasy. Tiesenhausen and Carbro estimated that we could build the first self-replicating machine twenty years after we began the project in earnest. This means that if we begin now, by 2019 a self-perpetuating robot corps could already be established on the Moon. Then there would be two races of intelligent beings in the solar system able to procreate: humans and robots.
p. 67

Obviously we did not pursue this in earnest. I expect it would take longer than 20 years if we started this now... Remember Clarke seems to be mapping out what might be possible if we made full scale efforts in certain directions, not predictions about what will happen.

If there is fear surrounding self-replicating robots, I don't understand it. Manufacturing is extremely difficult so I can't imagine how robots could do this without assistance from humans, if only to provide correct parts at a precise location...

Quote:
Concern about killer robots ceased being the stuff of fiction in 1984 when a company called Robot Defense Systems unveiled a $200,000 robot sentry called Prowler (for Programmable Robot Observer With Logical Enemy Response). Designed for outdoor sentry duty, the machine resembles a small tank, carries two M60 machine guns and a grenade launcher.
p. 69

According to Wikipedia that company has since gone out of business. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PROWLER



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Post Re: July 20, 2019 - CHAPTER 4 - A Day in the Life of a Robot
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Of Course Citizens Should Be Allowed to Kick Robots
Every day for 10 months, Knightscope K5 patrolled the parking garage across the street from the city hall in Hayward, California. An autonomous security robot, it rolled around by itself, taking video and reading license plates. Locals had complained the garage was dangerous, but K5 seemed to be doing a good job restoring safety. Until the night of August 3, when a stranger came up to K5, knocked it down, and kicked it repeatedly, inflicting serious damage.

...Because K5 is not a friendly robot, even if the cutesy blue lights are meant to telegraph that it is. It’s not there to comfort senior citizens or teach autistic children. It exists to collect data—data about people’s daily habits and routines. While Knightscope owns the robots and leases them to clients, the clients own the data K5 collects. They can store it as long as they want and analyze it however they want. K5 is an unregulated security camera on wheels, a 21st-century panopticon.

...So punch the robot, I tell you! Test the strength of your sociopolitical convictions on this lunk of inorganic matter! It’s not even a Nazi. It’s a few feet of plastic and electrical wiring. It doesn’t have feelings. It doesn’t register pain. It doesn’t have ambitions, desires, or regrets. It is a sham, an ersatz impression of power that should be pushed to its limits—right down onto the hard parking lot floor.

Sara Harrison 8/29/19
https://www.wired.com/story/citizens-sh ... ck-robots/

Question: Should this be part of the life of a robot? :P


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Post Re: July 20, 2019 - CHAPTER 4 - A Day in the Life of a Robot
KindaSkolarly wrote:
Hostile environments like the deep sea and outer space will be populated by remote-controlled robots. Clarke says the current (1986) space shuttle arm will evolve into arms that are serpentine and perhaps a mile long. He says robots will be guided by people wearing exoskeleton control suits, and eventually the robots will be self-guiding.


I would like to develop robots for the deep sea, able to operate under extreme pressures miles below the surface. Sinking algae slurry to two kilometre depth and heating it to 400 degrees would convert it to crude oil and other valuable products. That would need submarine robots, possibly managed by exoskeleton control suits. Such robots might be made of plastic or carbon fibre, with metal restricted to use in internal electrical systems.


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