Boston dynamics has been shown to know how to crack the code of fast movements of arbitrary ‘systems’ of actuators. It’s probably thanks to the speed of CPUs and enormous amounts of memory that its robots can trigger the right control based on their position vs gravity, their own mass, elastic effects and actuator lag and power curves. Complex, but if you make lookup tables of everything not impossible. The algorithm that navigates all these control signals will probably be a standard part of any real AI..

The latest in robot dancing

It is fascinating how one lab can achieve so much and many others are left in the dust. The Ford (we thought Amazon) digit robot walks but is not as agile. It has the advantage of being a product made for a real purpose. What happens if these become more lightweight, if the controls are minimized and internalized and turn out to be doable with generic hardware. The challenge with AI is often training the system, that process requires a lot of cycles, energy and time. But once the resulting weight matrix has been developed it can be really lightweight and fast.

Now there’s a real attempt to make these things not look to much like humans, because our innate reflex is to project emotions and intentions on whatever moves around us. Japanese are the most sensitive culture in this respect because in Japan machines can have souls and can be considered to be alive. This is not a weird position, we are after all also biochemical mechanisms. The rub is that we have different needs from machines.

The big challenge of the next 20 years is to remain on top of robots and AI. To keep them from being servants of egos, from destroying our planet because somehow someone made them strive for self preservation without also makeing them want to see us around. If we manage we can have a renewable powered society where robots can do nearly anything, robots, road bots (Tesla’s with autopilot with a robot mounted on it for example). Once these devices can roam freely outside, running on solar/electric energy that does not run out, our options to survive climate change increase. Our job is to not start loving them, not try to give them a soul that wants to survive, because that’s how we’d lose our freedom to them!