The marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation defines a robot as “Your Plastic Pal Who’s Fun to Be With.” The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy defines the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetic Corporation as “a bunch of mindless jerks who’ll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.”–Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy
The early images of robots were crude. There was Robby the Robot in the 1956 scifi classic Forbidden Planet. His cousin, Robot B-9, on the campy mid 1960’s TV series Lost In Space, made famous the the catchphrase “danger Will Robinson.” They look like cartoons to us today, compared, for example, to the chillingly lifelike Ava from 2015’s Ex Machina, or the robots so real in HBO’s Westworld, it’s hard to tell who’s a human and who’s an android. But how close are we to an invasion of robots of all kinds? Some of this week’s stories would have one believe we are on the cusp.
Robotics–The emirate of Dubai announced the roll out of the world’s first robotic policeman. With it, they stated a goal of having these devices make up 25% of their security forces by 2030. The robocop uses an array of cameras and sensors, along with sophisticated artificial intelligence, to go about its business.
- The market research firm, Tractica, issued a report projecting that worldwide consumer robot sales would climb from an estimated 10 million units in 2016, to over 50 million by 2022. The report also suggests that the shape and functionality will expand dramatically. Current home units are mostly cleaning devices, but more versatile servants and family companions will become significant market forces, as well.
Renewable Energy–The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) issued a report stating that solar energy jobs in the U.S. grew at a rate 17 times faster than the economy a whole in 2016. The report also mentioned strong growth in wind industry jobs, and projected employment in that sector to grow by about 40% from 2016 to 2020, while jobs related to fossil fuels will continue to decline.
- The Daily Mail reports that the world’s first solar wind farm powered by kites will power 5,000 U.K. homes by 2020. Warning: keep Charlie Brown out of the area.
Aerospace–Boeing has been awarded the contract to build the experimental XS-1, or Phantom Express, for DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). The vehicle is designed as an autonomous rapid satellite launcher, capable of being recycled and relaunched up to 10 times in 10 days. It is slated for full operation by 2022.
Artificial Intelligence–A research team at NEMEC in Belgium has created a neuromorphic chip that mimics the activity of human neurons to compose music. It does so by being exposed to various compositions and then copies the style. It’s more practical future uses lie in medical sensors and personal electronics that learn the health and behavior of its users.
Urban Futures–Architect and urban futurist Cindy Frewen joined me for Seeking Delphi™ podcast #13 in a discussion of the urban landscape of the future. Watch and listen to the YouTube slide show or subscribe via any of the links below it.