Properly designed, robots can be useful in a lot of practical, everyday scenarios. Still, although they can be taught to make pancakes, fold towels, and perform other specialised tasks, the long-awaited general-purpose automaton has remained tantalisingly out of reach. That looks set to change, with today's unveiling of Baxter, an all-purpose robot built by the Boston-based firm Rethink Robotics. Baxter won't be coming to a kitchen near you any time soon - according to the company's release, it is designed to excel at fast, repetitive labour in manufacturing jobs. And at $22,000 a pop, you probably can't afford one in your house anyway.
But it's precisely that price point that Rethink is flogging heavily in its public relations material. Baxter is actually pretty cheap for a piece of industrial equipment, the company's thinking goes, which will make it an attractive addition to manufacturing firms who are looking for reliable pairs of hands (or in Baxter's case, reliable "interchangeable end effectors") to work on assembly lines and perform menial tasks. What this means for the future of the human factory worker is unclear. Rethink rosily states that Baxter will "free human operators to focus on more value-added jobs", but it's bound to be a thorny issue if and when robots start showing up on assembly lines en masse.
Be that as it may, Baxter has been explicitly designed to work in a human's world. With a pair of dextrous arms, a 360-degree sonar sensor and a force-sensing system that allows it to avoid harmful contact with humans, it is meant to sidle up next to people and toil safely alongside them. Perhaps most significantly, Rethink claims Baxter units can be re-tasked in a matter of minutes by people with no knowledge of software programming or robotics. If true, that would mean the company has achieved a significant breakthrough in robotics software that allows a wide range of generalisation. It could indeed portend an age when robots become ubiquitous in our everyday lives. Apart from the press release, details are scarce for now - New Scientist's repeated requests for interview went unanswered. But watch this space: we already had a date next week to sit down with the company's founder and chief technology officer, Rodney Brooks. Then we hope we'll get the low-down on what advances in programming and hardware had to be developed in order to make Baxter tick.
Rethink claims Baxter units can be re-tasked in a matter of minutes by people with no knowledge of software programming or robotics.
Originally posted by TheOneElectric
The fear you all have is natural, there will be a short period of chaos due to the fact that the politicians and the economists just won't "get it" or will refuse to "get it". Real money is going become a thing of the past. Know this. It will exist only to stave off over consumption and ill uses of resources.
After the period of turmoil, where the old guard clings to capitalistic thought, a new society will emerge. Humanity will be free, and not in a state of nature. Humanity will exist in stark, naked freedom while surrounded by the height of technology and knowledge. There will be a Neo-Renaissance of thought forms, creativity, experience, and emotion.
Rejoice. Do not fear. The fear is the old adages of greed fading from your hearts. Your soul is about to be set free, humanity will fly high once again. No more masters, no more slaves. It will be all thanks to our ability to innovate, and to think our way outside of a system of confinement. Who would have thought that navigating the complex routes of tree branches would one day give us the ability to truly obtain freedom. We are on the verge of conquering greed.edit on 18-9-2012 by TheOneElectric because: (no reason given)