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Robots v. humans: Real steel or dumb metal?

Robots are making huge strides in space, on the ocean floor and even in the dentist office

Right from the start let’s agree that the argument of humans or robots is getting close to being a dead heat in some areas. With advances in artificial intelligence and complex software, many robots are close to performing some duties better than their human counterparts.


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For example, NASA and General Motors built the 300 pound Robonaut2 – or R2 – a robot that is capable of using the same tools as humans and now works alongside them in space onboard the International Space Station. R2 can use its hands to do work beyond the scope of prior humanoid machines and can easily work safely alongside people, a necessity both on Earth and in space, NASA stated. It is also stronger: able to lift, not just hold, a 20-pound weight (about four times heavier than what other dexterous robots can handle) both near and away from its body. Granted the robot takes up valuable space station space, but it doesn’t have to be fed or go to the bathroom – major advantages in space.


Other robots such as the Octoroach being developed by UC Berkeley researchers can crawl into all manner of super-secret surveillance or emergency recovery applications that the human body just could not. The Octoroach is an eight-legged, sensor-laden, battery-powered device that can find its own way around a room and climb over obstacles. Its compliant, rather than rigid legs let it effectively mimic a cockroach scrambling across the floor.

Other robots such the REMUS 6000 autonomous underwater system recently conducted a 3,900 square mile search of Atlantic Ocean bottom looking for the deep-sea wreck site and black boxes from Air France Flight 447, which crashed off the coast of Brazil two years ago. The autonomous undersea vehicles are designed to operate in depths up to 6,000 meters (19,685 feet or 3.73 miles) and are capable of staying underwater for up to 20 hours. Human searches of the area never found anything, but the bots did.

But while robots can in certain areas achieve what humans cannot, you only have to look as far as say the products that are thought of and designed by the humans at Apple. Or look at the way humans can interact as a group to bring about social change -at least sometimes anyway. Getting robots to act as a group is a science that is only beginning to take shape.

Humans, at least some of them, still have feelings and emotions that robots just cannot mimic. Though some robots are getting close. Japanese researchers this year showed off a dentistry-training robot that can flinch, gag, blink and try to carry on a conversation with cotton stuffed in its mouth – effectively mimicking a real human visit to the dentist.

Still the notion that robots will at some point outperform us all is an interesting though scary proposition. In the current movie “Real Steel” a washed up boxer “teaches” a “sparing bot” how to fight in the ring with success. But in the movie the humans take control over the bots from time-to-time to help them box. Still, for purposes of our human v. robot argument, the movie was set in 2020 and the idea that robots could learn and perform boxing as a skill no longer seems that far-fetched.

Intel Joins the Windows 8 Developer Push

IDF takes place at the same time as BUILD, and the Wintel alliance (for now) is linking arms to reach out to developers Microsoft 70-640 Training .”.

If you’re going to Intel’s Developer Forum next week and want to know what’s up with Windows 8, good news: you don’t have to jet down to Anaheim, Microsoft has got you covered at IDF, too.


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As we all know, the Microsoft BUILD conference takes place next week in Anaheim, California (just across the street from Disneyland). BUILD is a rollup of PDC and WinHEC, so it’s the show for developers to attend. At the same time, Intel is hosting the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco.

This may present a quandary for some people, but thankfully, Microsoft and Intel are coordinating this rather well. For those of you attending IDF, you can get yourself at least some info on Windows 8. As for a beta, well, we still don’t know if one will come out at BUILD (although I’d be shocked if it didn’t happen). The most likely scenario is that you can register to get the beta while at IDF.

The information comes courtesy of Intel’s IDF site, which lists a few notable sessions involving Microsoft (click on the Technical Session Catalog and search for Microsoft). The biggest one comes on Wednesday, where Microsoft will deliver a session on Windows 8 called “Microsoft Windows 8 on Intel Architecture.” This session will be the look at Windows 8 and discuss “the work both companies are undertaking to deliver this new compute experience.”

Most of the sessions are reserved for Thursday, the last day of IDF. I’ve seen how attendance falls off on day 3 of IDF and question whether that’s a good idea, but maybe it was all they had Microsoft Free MCTS Training and MCTS Online Training.

The two companies will host a session called “Hot Topic Q&A: Intel and Microsoft – Windows 8.” Microsoft will have three representatives, Intel will have two engineers.

Another session on Thursday will be “Microsoft Windows Platform Evolution and UEFI Requirements.” UEFI stands for Unified Extensible Firmware Interface and will finally replace the creaky old BIOS firmware that has been in PCs for more than 30 years. The session will talk about the latest Windows 8 platform requirements including UEFI boot and security features.

The final session on Thursday will be “Integrating Intel Platform Capabilities on Microsoft Windows Security Architecture.” Intel will detail improvements in the Windows security architecture and how Intel hardware will work with the next-generation of Windows.

Sure sounds like a beta is coming, doesn’t it?

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