Robotic Expansion

October 1, 2018

 

3D - Distributed, Decentralized, and Dynamic

 

The future of computing evolves continuously towards more stable and robust systems that many users can interact with simultaneously. Storage prices have continued to fall over the past decade and new advances in the methods, materials, and logistics behind how these solutions are delivered makes them accessible to more and more people. Design mentalities for things in their early phases but being seen today such as the Internet of Things (IoT), automated personal devices for homes, and personal devices in general are becoming more focused on handling high numbers of users in secure and intuitive ways. There are labs at research universities that study swarms and how they can change our approach in designing technology. Specifically, labs such as the University of Pennsylvania's GRASP Lab, MIT Media Lab, projects at Harvard's labs, and other schools and research groups are exploring how swarms can function locally. These groups are also looking at other robotic forms and ways to make blockchain robotics  technology as well. All of these examples and recent demonstrations seen at large scale public events are showing how much more capable robotic technology is getting. The progress too seems to be happening so fast it is hard to see what will be possible in even another 20 years, which is also the age of Google!

 

There have been a number of media explorations of how these kinds of systems could break down and turn against the people using them in the future as well. There are many movies in this category. Recent shows have also explored how swarm technology could go wrong. Even when things go to plan the outcomes can often feel bleak. The movie Wall-E is an example of us projecting the trends we so today into the futures we feel are most likely. Rather than work to fix the problems we have created it seems most economical to just leave and start again somewhere else. We most often see this taking place in a stratified society of some form. There is something to be said about the few becoming representatives and explorers of the new frontiers for the many, but those parallels hold less sway as the experiences of those unable to join in the new journey face increasingly distressing circumstances. What future modes of exploration could we see with all that is being seen conceptually and in design today?

 

 

Deep Dives

 

Deep learning has changed how we see machines. From acting or executing machines to processing or calculating machines to learning and thinking systems we have seen the evolution of what can be thought of as a global child, a distributed silicon baby. When we put ourselves in the shoes of the systems we are creating we should wonder how long would it take for a whole new form of system to be brought into our world? How much longer still would it take for us to accept such a system into our homes and daily lives? Large corporations use learning systems to tailor products they want us to connect with into the advertisements we see. Self driving technology has also come leaps and bounds in recent years and progress continues steadily. However, social acceptance feels further off due to the distance in emotional connection and relation to the systems today. We see examples of young, inebriated, and other people disrespecting early autonomous services and we see these autonomous security services being used to patrol homeless and vulnerable populations. The range of services and forms that robots are taking in our lives makes it hard to see what forms they will take when we come in contact with them. There is still so much separation between how we view them and how we view our peers. There are also many different motives behind why the people making these systems take the approaches they do technologically. Open source solutions and initiatives have formed to work towards curbing negative trends in the evolution of this system. These include OpenAI  and several other open source AI and machine learning technologies.

 

We do not know enough about the brain today to know best how to teach the systems being developed today to act as we do. This might not be a bad thing. Nonetheless, there are already several things these systems can do today as a result of deep learning technology. There are also more technologies today being developed aiming to help us connect with the machines around us.

 

Curiosity

 

Life on other planets would be tough for many reasons. Gravity, resources, infrastructure, natural life, and several others. Also, concerns of speciation have been put forth for long term inhabitants of other planets. However, the digital age changes how we can experience space. We can see swarms of robots exploring new worlds and us connecting with them through a galactic network rather than only moving our bodies through space. The evolution of these systems too will vary with the mentalities and cultures of the times when these decisions become actionable. Finding ways to bring more of our diversity with us as we explore new frontiers will help keep the rich culture that makes life exciting while also shaping new ways of thinking about how we trace our path through the stars. A system that spans the galaxy and can keep us together as things change would allow us to ward of the stresses that come from fractured society. Finding new ways to grow by struggling internally as well as allowing for new ideas and norms to be shared, tested, and explored will be a question to sit with as these new ideals become more wide spread.

 

Curiosity had its sixth birthday in early August of this past summer: We send robotic missions to space today to explore where we think we would want to send humans some day. The society and party of tomorrow might be in the mind of a future rover. An AI system that allows us to interact on robotic systems with our selves in other places. The nature of space travel could be fundamentally different than we imagine it today. We send people and separate them by great distances when we can have the infrastructure and community and growth all in one place. This could take many unexpected forms as this becomes more possible as well. For example, the rate these systems could function would allow for separation, computational exploration, and realignment in more social structures as people change or new growth is needed. If we are set on sending linear experiential systems out to form new societies we will be able to connect with them in these new forms as well. It could be seen that the minds of different kinds of beings would be housed on one system and connect however they want to in the new space. How many families, groups, or cities could fit on a rover might be a common question. These would be shared extensions in a galactically connected system and the growth too should be inclusive; how this would look could vary widely. 

 

 

Red Rover

 

What kinds of games might these future societies play and how will growth look are deep questions that will take time to explore. There are already a number of companies focused on biomimicry robotics, a prime example being Festo which extend the work done on the same path in university research labs. Robots that evolve have been explored recently as well. Are there structurally ideal or optimal new forms that could be implemented to change how the societies come together on the larger level? How do these new ways of thinking of societies come together when there are no tests we can run? What would be names of this network and the systems on it? Maybe Galnet, Spaceweb, or Mindlace? Share other ideas for names and feedback on the idea of this kind of system below.

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