Posts Tagged ‘robotics’

Running Title: Soonish – Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve And/Or RUIN Everything.
As the new year begins, and as we try to get over that year long hangover that was 2017, there is a need to find some hope in the future to come. Sure we’ll have to find a way to delete a significant portion of 2017 from our memory, but until they come up with Johnny Mnemonic type technology, we’ll just have to focus on the years ahead and try to ignore the braying of asses in the media. I was walking around my central branch after a training session (yes, librarians have to do training stuff) and for some reason I came across Soonish. One quick glance at the cover, led to hamster-like scanning of the chapters and before you can scream “Kelly Clarkson” I was bolting out the door with a checked out copy of Soonish. Even though I am a librarian, once in a while I always year to get back to my engineering roots (which will probably explain the Arduino kits scattered throughout my condo) and catch up on what’s going on in the scientific world. Bloody hell, I miss working in labs.
From space elevators/tethers, asteroid mining, programmable matter, robotic construction to augmented reality (AR), precision medicine, and bioprinting, the Weinersmiths paint a fascinating and intriguing futurescape of technology. To quote Timbuk3 (and I’ve always wanted to): “The future so bright, I gotta wear shades.” Well at least for those of you that grew up in or appreciate the 80s and its music. Being a big fan of robotics, I really latched on the chapters on programmable matter and robotic construction. Programmable matter is as cool as it sounds; think of a piece of paper that can fold itself into an origami piece like a swan or a fire breathing dragon carrying a white haired, gorgeous woman …er, sorry about that. But let’s face it, Emilia Clarke is the dog’s bullock, yeah? And yes, we’ve detoured (but such a good detour it is). Now imagine a house built with programmable matter systems where a kitchen can transform into a bathroom or bedroom. Fascinating stuff. Since we’re on the topic of robotics … robotic construction. Houses being built by robots. Cool (though many in the construction industry are going to be wearing their shitting pants and the art of female catcalling faces extinction). Yes, there is an actual roving robotic construction prototype out there. When they came out with 3D printers at some point, I heard myself say, “hey, won’t it be cool if they did this for human organs and tissues” and for a few weeks my head was swimming with visions of scanning tunneling microscopes, busy-body nanites immersed in a vat of amino acids and rigged to some strange elaborate (near-alien looking) printing apparatus. And then I went to binge watch the final season of Leverage. Thankfully, the science community isn’t as hamster-brained as I can be (sometimes) and … lo and behold … bioprinting. The future key to solve the organ donation crisis (just hoping it doesn’t turn into that remake of Repo Men with Jude Law).
Space elevators … what a concept … the ability to zip cargo from terra firma to low orbit stations that are tethered to the earth by miles upon miles of specially treated/enhanced cables … all without the costly NASA rocket blastoffs. Though I do worry about some twit or tosser terrorist walking by and deciding to “snip” the cable for pranks or disruption. I could go on and on about some of the things discussed in Soonish but I’ll be a downright wank for messing up your reading experience.
Zach and Kelly Weinersmith (both technological academics themselves) did something in Soonish very few technical writers can do: write about tech, make it entertaining … AND still manage to inform. Sure, Zach seems to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder about (and against) Windows 10 ( I already love this chap), but then again which thinking PC user doesn’t. If it were up to me, I’d nominate that the Weinersmiths write all the science textbooks (for both schools and universities) and I’m willing to bet that there will be a surge in science studies … and a declining interest in bullshit music reality shows like The Voice and it’s rip-off rival, The Four (yes, I apparently did go there).

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Running Title – Wired For War: The Robotics Revolution And Conflict In The 21st Century

I’ve always been fascinated with robots. From the day my parents bought that lame “Made In Japan” toy robot in the 70s to seeing Johnny 5 on Short Circuit, it was love at first sight. So much that I got my undergrad in Electromechanical Engineering (and there you thought I was some Liberal arts major … shame on you). I’m also fascinated with weapons ( I know … you didn’t see that coming), to a high degree that can be classified as … well … unnerving to some. Here’s a typical example: I might be one of a few librarians (and I’m being generous) who knows what a kriss xv is (it is a recoiless .45 caliber assault pistol). So needless to say, I am extremely fascinated with unmanned/robotic technology that is currently in operations in the war on terror. Price’s Wired examines the growing roles of robots in our lives but specifically in the military. It is quite an eye-opener especially when you begin to realize that this technology is not only used exclusively by the US but also by many others and in areas of the world that we’d least expect.

Though Wired starts out, seemingly, as a gushfest and technolust that may warrant the service of hand lotion and paper towels, it more or less becomes a cautionary exploration in the use of military robotics. The book is well-written, well researched, and does give the reader much to ponder. It is in my honest yet humble opinion that if such a book was written on nuclear energy many decades ago, the world would have possibly fared better without dealing with nuclear bollocks that we’re confronted with today. Note that this book is not a cause for alarm but merely an imploring to deploy technology with some regulation and discretion. Does this mean that there is a possible Skynet future to deal with? Will I have to go and run off into the desert with Linda Hamilton and learn survivalist stuff? Seriously, no … but I wouldn’t mind running off into the desert with Linda Hamilton. Bloody hell, I wouldn’t mind running off with her into an active volcano. I have detoured. Wired gives us lots to ponder and merely states potential consequences should we not heed the warning signs … on the wall … the leads into the future. Still it is quite a thrilling and extremely educational read.

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