Lost in Space

Lost in Space
Future Tech Today

Joe Blancato | 12 Feb 2008 11:05
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As in the fictional worlds of Sarah Connor and Lieutenant "Starbuck" Thrace, however, technology marches on, and robots keep getting sexier with each new model rollout. Case in point: the Actroid, a robot developed by Osaka University and manufactured by Kokoro Company, Ltd. While ASIMO is designed to be functional, cute and generally inoffensive, Actroid isn't afraid to show a little silicone. Most versions are modeled after a young Japanese woman, virtually guaranteeing a healthy aftermarket of high-performance firmware modifications.

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Unfortunately, Actroid has a long way to go in its trek through the uncanny valley. While it sports 47 unique points of articulation, its rigid gestures and facial tics place it somewhere between a FemBot and the Country Bear Jamboree. But in an age where people can, and frequently do, form emotional attachments to gleaming hunks of chrome and plastic, Actroid goes the extra mile to win its owners' affection. And that, at the very least, should earn it a hug. Just remember Asimov's 4th Law of Robotics: Clothing Optional.

I'll Take the Deluxe Model, But Will it Lower My Empathy Score?
Ever since Cyberpunk 2020, Johnny Mnemonic and Forrest Gump, I've wanted magic legs. When I was growing up, I was always slower than my friends, and while I don't mind being all torso in a number of activities, it sucks for team sports. So I've been looking for an upgrade for a while now, but the conventional replacement has always been clunky and made walking, let alone running a pass route, an adventure.

As it turns out, that's all about to change. Last year a few patients who lost their arms tested artificial limbs hooked up to nerves in their chest, and they were able to make the replacement arms move just by thinking about it. And in addition to the limbs being functional, another team has actually restored amputees' feeling in their lost limbs by connecting nerves from their amputated limb to those same chest nerves. While the technology isn't at the RoboCop level, it can only get better as more amputees get access to these smart limbs. That's great news for veterans and accident victims, and if it lets me leap tall buildings in a single bound, all the better.

The Alan Parsons Project
Ever since I watched Moonraker, an incisive treatise on the horrifying lengths that humanity will go to in its relentless pursuit of power, I have patiently waited for the day when people everywhere would lay down their guns, and pick up laser guns. For nearly a millennium, we've used fundamentally the same technology to kill and maim our fellow human. Isn't it time for a change?

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