Monday, May 19, 2008


Again, it’s time to talk about the future and how fast it’s rushing toward us (or we’re rushing toward it) (or how fast it’s rushing by us as we sit on the bank of Time’s river). Take your pick. Several times now, I’ve brought up Kurzweil’s book. See the title for this entry; subtract the “very” and that’s the title. Following are two excerpts from recent news items. Though these two items show how far humankind has yet to go to reach some of Kurzweil’s predictions about a future time when humans will ditch their bodies and download their consciousnesses into robotic bodies in order to live as long as they choose to live, the articles do show that we are definitely moving in that direction. Remember, technological advances are occuring at an ever-increasing rate. Kurzweil predicts that the time will soon come (within a half-century) when the curve of change will become nearly perpendicular in speed. That’s the “singularity” he predicts. Anyhow—here’s two examples of technological change:

Robotic suit could usher in super soldier era

May 15, 1:44 PM EDT
AP Business Writer

Rex Jameson bikes and swims regularly, and plays tennis and skis when time allows. But the 5-foot-11, 180-pound software engineer is lucky if he presses 200 pounds - that is, until he steps into an "exoskeleton" of aluminum and electronics that multiplies his strength and endurance as many as 20 times.

With the outfit's claw-like metal hand extensions, he gripped a weight set's bar at a recent demonstration and knocked off hundreds of repetitions. Once, he did 500.

"Everyone gets bored much more quickly than I get tired," Jameson said.

(AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)

Robot Conducts the Detroit Symphony
By Noah Ovshinsky for NPR’s Morning Edition

ASIMO conducts the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, May 13, 2008.

Morning Edition, May 14, 2008 - The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has played host to some of the biggest names in the conducting world. But Tuesday night, a different kind of celebrity held the baton at Orchestra Hall. This conductor was short both in stature and on words.
(Photo Courtesy Detroit Symphony)

ASIMO is not your typical conductor. It's gender neutral, stands at a little over 4 feet tall and has no pulse. It's a humanoid robot that made its conducting debut last night in Detroit.

It walked onto the stage to thunderous applause worthy of Leonard Bernstein.

"Hello, everyone," it said.

"Hello," the audience responded.

Then, ASIMO gracefully walked to the center of the stage, bowed and began leading the orchestra in a performance of "The Impossible Dream" from the musical Man of La Mancha.

ASIMO, which stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility, is a robot designed and built by Honda. One of its main goals is to get kids interested in math and science. But Tuesday night, ASIMO took a stab at conducting.


Early Spring squirrel
leaping tree to tree reveals
his Summer secrets.

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