Robots Now Have Imagination with Visual Foresight Technology

 Robotics  Comments Off on Robots Now Have Imagination with Visual Foresight Technology
Dec 112017


Vestri Robot with imagination

Vestri Robot with imagination


Wouldn’t it be nice if a robot could learn how to use an object without any help from humans? Apparently, that’s what a robot called Vestri can do.

Developed by a team from the University of California in Berkeley, Vestri can “see” into the future – but just for a few seconds – with that foresight allowing them to maneuver objects they have never been in contact with. The technology making it possible is called “visual foresight”, which may one day be used on self-driving cars or used to create home assistants that are more intelligent.

The researchers from UC Berkeley took inspiration from how children play. Kids play around with toys to figure out how it works. That very concept was programmed into the robot. So once the robot is done playing with an object, it then creates a predictive model which it taps into to perform a task.

The robot is helped by cameras, which help it see the next sequence of events. It uses the cameras to create different scenarios that haven’t happened yet. It “imagines” the possible events then picks the most effective method to achieve something. For example, moving an object from one place to the next.

Sergey Levine, an assistant professor at Berkeley, said in a university press release that the method allows the robot to visualize how different behaviors will affect the surrounding environment. This ability allows for “intelligent planning of highly flexible skills in complex real-world situations.”

The methods used are different from conventional computer-vision models, where lots images numbering in the thousands or millions are labeled and programmed into the machine. Instead, the method used for Vestri involves information that is autonomously collected.

The technology developed by researchers at UC Berkeley can be used on self-driving cars in the future. A car with such a technology can anticipate events that may happen on the road. But that is a plan for the future. For now, researchers are focusing on how Vestri can learn simple manual skills from autonomous play.

What Vestri can do right now is still very simple, but it’s sufficient enough to allow them to move objects around without any obstacles.

A deep learning technology lies at the heart of Vestri’s system, and it is based on convolutional recurrent video prediction, or dynamic neural advection (DNA). DNA-based models are able to predict how image pixels will move from frame to frame based on the actions of the robot. Improvements to DNA-based models have allowed robotic control that is based on video prediction to perform complex tasks such as sliding toys around obstacles.

Before this, robots learned skills with the help of humans who provided feedback. This is why the work done with Vestri is so exciting as it has shown that robots can learn without needing human assistance.

UC Berkeley researchers will continue to study control via video prediction, but further research will involve on improving prediction and prediction-based control, as well as coming up better methods that allow the robot to collect more focused video data so they can perform even more complex tasks like picking and placing objects, soft object manipulation, and assembly.


Tax the Robots Says Bill Gates

 Robotics  Comments Off on Tax the Robots Says Bill Gates
Apr 112017

The age of automation and artificial intelligence has arrived, and there’s no turning it back. While this is mostly good news for businesses and technology enthusiasts, it mainly spells out bad news for workers whose jobs can be automated and who can be replaced by robots in the near future. As a result, a lot of people are worrying that AI wave will leave them unemployed and struggling to feed themselves and their families.

However, tech mogul and Microsoft founder Bill Gates seems to have the answer to these worries: tax the robots.


Taxes and Automatons

It might seem ludicrous to think that robots would fret about VAT and income taxes, but Gates thinks that taxing them is a good idea. For instance, if a human worker in a factory is replaced by a robot, the automaton should be charged the same amount of taxes that the human paid when he was employed.


Gates believes that robot companies will not mind if they are charged with taxes for their automated workers. For one thing, they will be earning higher revenues since their laborers will be 100 percent efficient (something that humans can’t achieve) and have a steady stream of productivity. Companies will also save a significant amount of money since their robots won’t need sick leave, maternity or paternity leave, and retirement plans and pensions. With their increased earnings and lower overhead costs, businesses won’t find it hard to pay their robot taxes.


What to Do with the Money

The taxes collected from the robots could then be used to train the displaced laborers for other jobs, especially those that require human empathy. Some of them can work as teachers, which will allow schools to have smaller class sizes and ensure each child will receive one-on-one training. Others can be trained to become special education experts and assist children with special needs. Still others can be educated as nurses, nursing aides, and caregivers and provide high-quality healthcare to the sick and the elderly.

Gates points out that charging taxes can help slow down the advancement of automation. This might seem like a strange statement coming from a tech entrepreneur, but Gates is right in that the spread of automation needs to be controlled, especially in terms of its effects on job displacement. This way, the government and businesses can work together to create transition programs for displaced workers and minimize the negative impact that automation will have on families and even entire communities.

And yes, the government should get involved. Gates states that the government must play an active role in controlling the speed of automation and labor displacement instead of just relying on businesses to do everything. This way, inequity won’t be so rampant, and those in the low-income bracket won’t become even more disadvantaged.


Pair It with Universal Basic Income

Forbes contributor Ian Morris points out that robot taxation can also be merged with the concept of universal basic income. This can be funded by the amount collected from automation taxes and will ensure that everyone will have a monthly income that they can use to fulfill their basic needs. Morris agrees, though, that the country and the entire world will have to go through a painful transition before a balance can be achieved between automation and labor displacement.


Future Robots to Be Smartphone Driven and Not in Russia

 Robotics  Comments Off on Future Robots to Be Smartphone Driven and Not in Russia
May 152014

Future robots will not likely be like the lead in the “Terminator” movies. Many Internet of Everything robots already exist in some homes in the form of household appliances, thermostats and even automated vacuum cleaners.

According to the Moscow Times, Russia is behind the curve when it comes to developing future robots. And, when they are designing and building bots, a lot of the work is outsourced to other countries such as China.

Before Arnold Schwarzen-governor goes back to the future in search for John Connor, there will be many less sophisticated bots helping us with our daily lives.

The Moscow Times says, “While industrial and household, or service, robots are a fast-emerging new global market, Russia so far has acquired only a small portion of it. It buys robots each year by the hundreds, while according to the International Federation of Robotics, in 2012 about 3 million robots were sold worldwide for personal and domestic use and almost 160,000 for industrial application.”

It has now come to the point in our world’s development that the U. N. is considering banning killer robots. This includes fully autonomous killer land bots and well as drones.

I predict there will come a time when we’ll be able to put 100 robots in a room randomly typing at their keyboards an create the Great American novel.