The age of robots is beginning! The upshot of robotics, which we will see in our lives, will be self-healing, adaptable, evolutionary machines capable of long distance flight and space travel as well as nano-scale exploration in a blood vessel.
My new friend Federico Pistono is an expert on robots – you’ll notice my music (Radio) at the end of this video! Federico wrote a book called Robots Will Steal Your Jobs (And Why That’s Okay) (Amazon link). I’m a few chapters in and it’s profound and terrific. Federico is a genius and visionary (here’s his TED talk) who predicts a profound change in the way society and economy functions. I want to talk more about this, but I haven’t finished the dang book yet. Um. Sorry. I’m working on it.
It’s hard to make a robot. As we become sophisticated automation geniuses, we uncover the subtle brilliance of nature and millions of years of evolution. For example, as organic beings, there are complex counter-balances built in to every move we make (Walt Disney discovered that he could implement these and create more realistic, less jerky robotic characters at his theme parks). And of course, the bigger challenge of true general intelligence is far from being uncovered (Kurzweil would disagree). But fully autonomous robots become a more viable and explosive force every day. And it all points towards one ultimate goal: building a life-sized Bender Bending Rodríguez with a gleaming metal posterior. (For those of you weirdos that aren’t obsessed Futurama junkies, Bender is guy on the thing… here’s wikipedia).
It’s time for Robo News, everybody!
- The RoboEarth Cloud Engine is being launched to allow robots to universally share information and computation power. This may be the humble start of something as enormous as the Internet.
- Robot manufacturing is exploding. Manufacturing plants will quickly start looking like science fiction. The gap between concept and physical reality shortens. Robots may have the potential to bring back manufacturing to The United States (it’s becoming even cheaper to hire a robot worker than outsource to a country like China).
- This robot already rivals nature in running efficiency. Here’s a bi-pedal mind-blower. Here’s a dancing robot who loves cliches and can’t think of anything original.
- New flic – worth checking out? Pass the joint, man.
But what about building a working, life-sized Bender? I think it’s a good idea. You could inspire the interest of millions while doing groundbreaking science.
Suppose you started a Kickstarter campaign to realize your goal. A beautiful Bender prototype. A funny video. I would think with the proper packaging, something like this would bloooow the hell up on the Innernet.
I imagine a fully autonomous, mobile robot that looks and acts like Bender. Imagine your goal was to build an actual walking Bender that could execute basic locomotion and walk around and be a jerk. I speculate that Bender’s basic body plan would be a great template to experiment with human-like bi-pedal automation. Bender’s design is simple but versatile – he’s basically a giant keg on thick legs with two thick arms. Plus, his mechanics would be easy to hide in his tank-like body.
It could also have useful and entertaining features. It could move around and carry objects. It could store things. It could bend objects. It could blend objects (I think someone built a Bender beer brewer already, and I also saw a Kickstarter for a robotic drink mixer). It could be security. It could “steal” your money and act as a sort of savings account. It could say hilariously flippant things. It could burp fire. What other wonderful things could your personal Bending unit do?
I often try this thought experiment: if the world was made up of people very similar to me, what would the world look like? Well, for sure we would be working on a real Bender robot like it was the damn cure for AIDS.
This real-life bending unit already exists! It is severely lacking in the shiny-metal-ass department.