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Skynet's gonna win for sure now

Things that will have you freaking out and/or going 'ooooh, neat!' (but mostly freaking out) about the coming robot apocalypse



It seems I’ve been thinking out loud about the coming robot apocalypse lately. Didn’t really realize it until Wife mentioned the other night: “Y’know, you’ve been saying ‘we’re just making it easier for Skynet’* a lot.”

Closing the article on autonomous gun turrets bordering the Korean DMZ, I mutter under my breath: “Dunno what you’re talking about.”

Thing is, I have been noticing a lot of up-and-coming Skynet-esque trends. Whether or not they’ll benefit humanity or end with us as slaves to the machines, I leave up to you.

Cloud computing

Recently, the guys running the Pirate Bay had a blog entry about their servers, in particular the front-end servers that point to the boxes that are actually host to the torrent files. Because of their visible nature, these servers are the ones taken down during raids.

The Pirate Bay wants to offshore these servers into the Cloud, literally.

Using tiny servers running on credit card-sized hardware, cheap radio links, and GPS-controlled drones, the TPB crew is planning on experimenting with sending drones out over international waters. The radio links can establish a 100MBS connection up to 50km away, more than enough, they say, to run their proxy system.

If it works, not only are they making it harder for the authorities to shut down their servers, but we’re giving Skynet a mobile base .

Speaking of aerials

A team researchers at University of Pennsylvania’s General Robotics, Automation, Sensing, and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory unveiled video of their eight inch, one pound four-rotor autonomous flying robots.** The robots were featured turning flips in half a second, flying through structures, and my favorite: playing the James Bond theme on keyboard, drum, cymbal, and guitar.

Creepiest/coolest part? They did it all without human control. Operators programmed in the waypoints and times each robot had to hit its mark, then left it to the robots themselves to sort it out. The flying killbot drones used infrared lights and cameras to capture the location of each of its fellow killbot drones to ensure they didn’t collide with one another.

Check out our new flying overlords at: ted.com/talks/vijay_kumar_robots_that_fly_and_cooperate.html.

You can run, but you’ll just die tired

Having pondered the ages-old question of “why don’t we have four-legged robots that can run down Usain Bolt,” Darpa (the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) commissioned company Boston Dynamics to develop Robo Cheetah. Yes, that’s its name, and yes it’s exactly what it sounds like.

The four legged (and freaky-looking as all get-out) robot was clocked at 18 miles an hour during tethered treadmill tests. Darpa hopes to conduct untethered tests later this year, and while they haven’t specified a use for Robo Cheetah, envision it being used for “emergency response, firefighting …” and my personal favorite: “vehicular travel.”

So at least we’ll have bitchin’ four-legged robo-steeds to ride before they turn around and enslave us.

* Skynet, for those who don’t remember, is the evil robot network that tries to wipe out humanity in the Terminator movies.

** EIOPFRAFR didn’t flow quite as nicely.

Nicholas Walter fully intends earn the trust and respect of his robo-steed with funny internet clips and the occasional silicon wafer treat. Contact him via Managing Editor Ashley Schwellenbach at aschwellenbach@newtimesslo.com.

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