Will Google’s robots soon rule the (tech) world? Opline

Robert Hof, Forbes: “Google … has bought a military robot company called Boston Dynamics. … Unlike the other robot-makers, this company makes machines by the names of BigDog, Atlas and Cheetah that can variously outrun Usain Bolt and hurl cinderblocks 17 feet. … Google, like ATT, IBM and Xerox in previous decades, has monopoly-like profits that it can use to do research into areas that go far beyond its current business. Whether robots or self-driving cars or wearable computers become significant businesses for Google is less important than the fact that today, it’s willing to spend the big bucks to push forward in these seemingly unrelated areas.”

Will Knight, MIT Technology Review: “Boston Dynamics creates legged robots with eerily life-like running and balancing abilities. These machines are more than just spectacular feats of engineering, though; they embody a powerful approach to robot locomotion that might have a big impact on the way future machines move around our world.”

Shepard Ambellas,Before It’s News: “While some see Google’s rapid acquirement of robotics firms … as a positive step for the firm that retains the slogan ‘Don’t be evil,’ others like myself see this as the beginning of a long and dangerous road, a road which we likely shouldn’t go down. The road, if traveled, will essentially lead us toward human extinction, leaving only those in power to decide the fate of humanity. … Soon robots will take care of patients in hospitals and nursing homes, pump your gas, deliver books to your doorstep and more.”

Nicholas Tufnell, Motherboard: “Google is actually getting pretty serious about this robot stuff. Earlier this year, the search giant hired Ray Kurzweil — futurist and artificial intelligence expert — to be their new head of engineering … while Andy Rubin, former Android CEO, has been quietly buying out other robotics companies for Google. … So what can we expect, exactly? If we piece together information about the companies that Google has acquired (easier said than done, as they’ve all shut down their websites since the buyouts), we can compose our own Frankenstein’s robot-monster of the future. … Clearly 2014 will be a fascinating year for robotics.”

John Biggs,TechCrunch: “By depending on Google’s data for our daily interactions, mapping, and restaurant recommendations … we become some of the best Google consumers in history. But that’s still not enough. Google is limited by, for lack of a better word, meat. We are poor explorers and poor data gatherers. We tend to follow the same paths every day and, like ants, we rarely stray far from the nest. Google is a data company and needs far more data than humans alone can gather. Robots, then, will be the driver for a number of impressive feats in the next few decades including space exploration, improved mapping techniques and massive changes in the manufacturing workspace.”

Dylan Tweney,Venture Beat: “It may not be planning a defense business, but Google is certainly assembling an impressive array of real-world robots, so we’re going to go ahead and call it an ‘army,’ in the metaphorical sense if not the military one. That’s the perfect complement to its army of Internet bots — which, together with other companies’ bots, now comprise a majority of the Internet’s traffic.”

Article source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/12/16/google-robot-boston-dynamics-column/4045365/

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