When a Robot Signs a Bill: A Brief History of the Autopen 

“Although Bush set up the legal argument for autopen bill signing, he never used the device to enact legislation. Obama was the first to do so, signing an extension of the PATRIOT Act via autopen while in Europe. (Kind of fitting that a robot re-signed into law an act that represents the tenuous nature of technology, privacy, and the role of government.) Some lawmakers objected to the move, but no serious legal challenge to auto-signing bills has ever surfaced.”

(via new-aesthetic)

That makes us think of…the human touch of a robot’s hand.


Robot Heart Stories is the first in a trilogy of experiential learning projects from award winning storytelling visionary and experience designer Lance Weiler and creative producer Janine Saunders. Each project will inspire young and old alike to co-create and share. The goal is to reboot how we think about learning in an effort to unleash a collaborative journey into the future of education. The trilogy focuses on air, land and sea in three unique participatory storytelling initiatives designed to develop creativity, digital literacy and collaborative problem solving skills.

In part one of the trilogy a robot has crash landed in Montreal and now must make her way to LA in order to find her space craft and return home. Two class rooms in underprivileged neighborhoods, one in Montreal (French speaking) and the other in LA (English speaking) engage in an experiential learning project that utilizes math, science, history, geography and creative writing to place education directly in the hands of students. By using collaborative problem solving and creative writing the students help the Robot make her way across North America. The project concludes with an actual space launch!

That’s right, the robot, along with copies of the students stories and artwork, will board a commercial rocket that is headed to the space station later this fall. To learn more and support the project, visit here.

When thinking in the long term, especially about technology, I find it very helpful to think in terms of human generations. As a rough estimate I reckon 25 years per generation. Civilization began about 10,000 years ago (the oldest city, Jericho, was born in 8000 BC) which makes the civilization now present in Jericho and the rest of the world about 400 generations old. Tha’s 400 reproductive cycles of mother to daughter. Four hundred generations of civilized humans is not very long. We could almost memorize the names of all 400 cycles if we had nothing much else to do. After 400 generations we are different people than when we began. We had the idea of automatons and robots only maybe 8 generations ago, and made the first electronic computers 2 generations ago. The entire World Wide Web less than 2,000 days old! The year 2100 is only four generations away, keeping the same human lifespan. If we morph into robots in 2100, civilized humans will have lasted only 400 generations. That would be the shortest lifespan of a species in the history of life.
Will Spiritual Robots Replace Humanity by 2100? Thoughts from former editor-at-large of Wired, Kevin Kelly (PopTech 2006). (via azspot)


If you enjoy robots, specifically robot dogs and geek out over Star Wars and well, have a heart then this video will make you smile. 

This video is the brainchild of Patrick Boivin. A French autodidact (self taught) director. In addition to writing, directing and editing his films, Patrick, on top of all that also worked on the lighting, operated the camera and the animation and special effects. Oh sometimes did contributed sound and music. Pretty impressive. 

Patrick started out by drawing comic books 15 years ago, and quickly discovered that it was faster to tell a story with a video. He then gradually became a filmmaker. 


(via soupsoup

Robots Say The Damnedest Things

I’m having an awkward conversation with a robot. His name is Zeno. I clear my throat. “Do you enjoy being a robot?” I ask him, sounding like the Queen of England when she addresses a child.

“I really couldn’t say for sure,” he replies, whirring, glassy-eyed. “I am feeling a bit confused. Do you ever get that way?”

Zeno has a kind face, which moves as expressively as a human’s. His skin, made of something called Frubber, looks and feels startlingly lifelike, right down to his chest, but there’s nothing below that, only a table. He’s been designed by some of the world’s most brilliant AI scientists, but talking to him is, so far, like talking to a man suffering from Alzheimer’s. He drifts off, forgets himself, misunderstands.

“Are you happy?” I ask him.

“Sorry,” says Zeno. “I think my current is a bit off today.” He averts his gaze, as if embarrassed.

From GQ correspondent Jon Ronson’s eerily hilarious story about the leading edge of technology in talking robots, and what it means for our future. Photographs by Jeff Riedel.

(via gq)

Dragonfly Insectothopter by CIAgov

Developed by CIA’s Office of Research and Development in the 1970s, this micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was the first flight of an insect-sized aerial vehicle (Insectothopter). It was an initiative to explore the concept of intelligence collection by miniaturized platforms.

(via nprfreshair

So the Marines roll up in their crowd-sourced Local Motors troop transport and out jumps a bunch of robotic cheetahs with lasers for eyes! Warfare in the 21st century is gonna look like a James Cameron movie.

Image: Boston Dynamics

It’s amazing what you can learn from something you like playing with by completely destroying it!
European scientists have embarked on a project to let robots share and store what they discover about the world. Called RoboEarth it will be a place that robots can upload data to when they master a task, and ask for help in carrying out new ones.