Search results for: robotics

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Watch This Ex Machina Featurette Discuss What It Means To Be Human

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Alex Garland has an extensive history as a screenwriter, crafting scripts for the likes of Sunshine, 28 Days Later, and Dredd, but his directorial debut, the robotics thriller Ex Machina, looks as promising as any of those. Though it won’t premiere in the U.S. for a few more months, a U.K. release waits just around the corner next month, and we reap the benefit of all the advance hype, including this new featurette, “When Humans Become Gods.”

Ex Machina revolves around Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a programmer at a Google-like internet search company. When he wins a chance to spend some time at the isolated mountain retreat of the company’s CEO, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac), he thinks they’re going to hang out, bond, and maybe talk about a promotion. As it turns out, however, Caleb has been recruited to be the human component in a Turing Test, designed to evaluate the consciousness of Nathan’s latest invention, an artificially intelligent robot named Ava (Alicia Vikander), who is much more than meets the eye.

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Alex Garland’s Robot Thriller Ex Machina Drops This First Clip

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For a long time, we only heard bits and pieces about Alex Garland’s directorial debut, Ex Machina, which already sounded promising enough to grab our attention. Then there was a brief flurry of activity as it found a distributor, announced a release date, unveiled some artwork, and unleashed a trailer in a relatively short span. After getting our first real glimpse, it became one of our most anticipated movies of 2015. It looks stunning and tense and moody, and all of that is on display in this new clip for robotics thriller.

This may be Garland’s first time in the big chair, but his track record as a writer includes the likes of 28 Days Later, Sunshine, and Dredd, among others. The difference is, this time he gets to bring his words to life exactly as he wants, without filtering them through another artist. And from the look of things, he’s done a bang up job.

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Isaac Asimov’s Robot Visions Is Truly Visionary

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Robot VisionsMost people are familiar with Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot, a collection of nine short stories first published together in 1950 (the individual stories themselves almost all came out separately in the 1940s). The stories include Asimov’s groundbreaking robot tales, as well as principles such as the three laws of robotics, which have influenced pretty much every robot story since. His book Robot Visions combines those stories with short works of nonfiction in which he reflects on everything from the feasibility of the three laws to his predictions about the roles of robots in the future. The combination of fiction and nonfiction provides a wonderful lens into Asimov’s mind, as well as important points and questions regarding robots that are becoming more and more pressing and relevant.

Asimov was highly influenced by R.U.R., the first work featuring robots—killer robots who overthrow humanity, to be specific. In a short essay called “Robots I Have Known,” Asimov references author Karal Capek’s work, and describes the idea of robots that emerged from the play and from other robot fiction as “a sinister form, large, metallic, vaguely human, moving like a machine and speaking with no emotion.” It’s this description that Asimov seeks to challenge, particularly with regard to his creation of the laws that constrain robots and thus protect humanity. First, a robot cannot harm or allow harm to come to a human (this was later broadened into the “zeroth” law, which substitutes the word “humanity” in for “human,” thus allowing robots to act on the behalf of the collective good, rather than simply the individual good). Secondly, a robot must obey orders given by humans (unless they violate law number one), and third, that a robot must act in self-preservation (so long as this doesn’t violate laws one or two).

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Harvard Researcher Invents A Robot To Help Kids Learn Coding

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AERobotRight now there’s a big push to get kids interested in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) — which sounds awesome, except for the math part, though better them than me. Neil DeGrasse Tyson says we don’t have to do anything to turn kids on to science; rather, we have to make sure we don’t turn them off (check out the adorable clip at the bottom of the post for Tyson’s advice to a first grader about how she can help the Earth). Still, not everyone’s content to let kids follow their curiosity into science. Some people, such as Harvard researcher Mike Rubenstein, wants to fill middle and high school classrooms with programmable robots and let kids have a go at them.

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The Work That Invented The Term ‘Robot’ Remains As Relevant Today As Ever

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RURRobots are so prevalent in the media and in the real world that it seems they’ve always existed, though of course that’s not the case. Even before Isaac Asimov and his laws of robotics, there was Karel Capek’s R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots). Capek, a writer from Czechoslovakia, wrote the play in 1920. The term “robot” came from the Czech word “robota,” which means drudgery or forced labor. The term actually dates back to Czechoslovakia’s feudal past — “robota” meant the two or three days per week that the peasants had to leave their own fields and work, for free, on the fields of the nobles. Even though this play is approaching its 100th birthday, the ideas in it — namely, that our robotic servants could rise up and overthrow us — remain more relevant now than ever.

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Like Interstellar? Here’s How You Can Read A Brand-New Slice Of The Story

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MannsWorldWhatever else you can say about Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, there’s no doubt that it leaves you with questions. Depending on how much you enjoyed the film, those questions may be about the movie’s themes and plot twists, or you may just be left asking, “What the hell were they thinking with the bookshelf thing?” Either way, some of those questions are due to be answered, courtesy of a new comic filling in some of the film’s backstory.

SPOILERS for Interstellar below!