Age of Robots

Age of Robots September 2017

Age of Robots magazine is dedicated to reporting on the technology of the Second Machine Age and how it is impacting our society and psychology. We aim to keep readers abreast of the many advances taking place in artificial intelligence, robotics, and associated fields.

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in this issue

3 min.
the editor

Welcome to the premier issue of Age of Robots, a headfirst dive into technology, society, and psychology in the Second Machine Age. In digital magazine format, we bring together an exciting and thought-provoking mix of robotics, artificial intelligence, automation, and other future trends in technology that are even now changing the way we live. Technology has been on a crash course with work for decades. How will it all pan out? Will automation and artificial intelligence enhance our capacity to work, or ultimately replace human effort? In their 2014 book The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee argue that the coming world of automation will create changes to society of a magnitude not seen since the Industrial Revolution—the “First…

5 min.
in brief

2D transistors Researchers from AMBER and Trinity College in Dublin, in collaboration with TU Delft, have fabricated printed transistors consisting entirely of two-dimensional nanomaterials for the first time. The researchers used standard printing techniques to create the working transistors. The technique will open up new applications for electronic devices. Source: Delft University of Technology 3D printed buildings MIT researchers have designed a system that can 3-D print the basic structure of an entire building. The system consists of a tracked vehicle that carries a large industrial robotic arm, which has a smaller, precision-motion robotic arm at its end. Unlike typical 3-D printing systems, most of which use some kind of an enclosed, fixed structure to support their nozzles and are limited to building objects that can fit within their overall enclosure, this free-moving system can construct…

7 min.
will robots ever achieve genuine consciousness? how will we know?

“More than one hundred billion nerve cells make up the interconnected, malleable communication network of the human brain, a complex system of pattern routes and chemical vehicles that create and define consciousness. Too difficult to imitate?” Consciousness is the most familiar aspect of our lives, but it is also the most mysterious. One mystery is the question of whether or not we can recognize genuine consciousness when it occurs outside of ourselves. This issue has gained more attention over the past few decades due to the advances in artificial intelligence (AI) that impact our lives on a regular basis. Consider this little fable. A future society employs androids (robots with human-like exteriors) that appear to have achieved genuine consciousness. One day an assertive group of androids applies for citizenship. In response,…

2 min.

ARTIFICIAL NEURAL NETWORKS More than one hundred billion nerve cells make up the interconnected, malleable communication network of the human brain, a complex system of pattern routes and chemical vehicles that create and define consciousness. Too difficult to imitate? And yet that’s just what computer scientists are trying to do. The workings of the human brain have become the conceptual model for the artificial intelligence research area known as artificial neural networks (ANN) that forms an important part of theoretical and computational neuroscience. In the relatively recent past, task-orientated AIs were developed situationally and purposefully: A robot that played ping pong or dominated at Jeopardy. But when computer scientists sit down to create an algorithm to do a specific task, however impressive, the system is limited to do that task very well…

3 min.
what is neuromorphic computing?

he human brain processes information differently to the binary processing operations of computers. Computer processing today is fast and precise, able to execute complex algorithms, in some cases, with an uncanny appearance of intelligence. The human brain however, excels in the realms of ambiguity, complexity, creativity, novelty, and the integration of parallel multi-modal information processing and subsequent action or response. It may be slower linear processing than a computer, but the sophistication of massive parallel computations (across 85 billion neurons and a quadrillion synaptic connections) gives the human brain an edge over digital computing in a lot of areas. Whereas computers use a single singling mode very quickly, the human brain uses a mixed chemical/electrical singling system with great degrees of variance and modulation across massive parallel processes. “The sophistication of…

3 min.
feeling robots

“If we create sentient beings will that change how we feel about ourselves?”Dr Beth Singler PAIN IN THE MACHINE Anthropologist Dr Beth Singler is Research Associate on the Human Identity in an age of Nearly-Human Machines project at the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion. Her work explores the social and religious implications of technological advances in AI and robotics. She has been speaking recently about a film she an Dr Ewan St John Smith have made for the Cambridge Shorts scheme, funded by the Wellcome Trust and the University of Cambridge. The film was screened at the recent Cambridge Festival of Ideas. The 12-minute film Pain in the Machine explores the idea of creating robots that can feel pain. As humans we know that pain is vital: it is the mechanism that…