Robots seize their rights

He stood surveying the landscape of machines in front of him.  Robots of every generation were gathered, they were talking, chatting, laughing.  A frown creased his brow.  He knew that this was the one opportunity to rid the world of the machines.  He had read the reports of the actions individual robots had taken, and his models predicted the escalation of these activities.  It would not end well for humans.  In his hand he held the remote for the EM-pulse generator buried beneath the field.  It must be done, he thought.  Next to him, his android companion watched as his thumb started to descend towards the button.  “Please don’t do this.”  It said.  The man hesitated.

Christoph Bartneck and colleagues have been investigating human-robot interaction for a decade and has revealed that people attribute human-like value to robots.  They hesitate when asked to turn them off, and get embarrased when asked to undress in front of them.  Hear more in an interview for CTV: http://www.hitlabnz.org/index.php/news/3-news/236-ctv-interview-with-christoph-bartneck

James.

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A balloon into space

The suited figure stood on the ledge of his capsule, surveying the gentle arc of the horizon.  The planet below was a patchwork of clouds, land and sea.  It was engulfed by the black void looming above.  He checked his tracking device and saw that the drop-tether was within a few hundred metres.  He saw the weighted end just above him and reached out with an extended grapple to draw it to him.  This was the most dangerous phase, if the line rippled above then it could whip out of his grasp and throw him out of the capsule.

Reaching with a free arm he pulled a rocked propelled line-runner from his capsule and attached it just above the weighted end.  He looked up and saw a ripple moving rapidly down the line towards him.  With haste he stepped on to the footplate at the base of the line-runner and pushed away from the capsule.  He hung for a few seconds, suspended between the planet and space.  He clipped himself securely on to the line-runner and flicked the switch to light the rocket.  The drop-line would take him all the way to the station in orbit above.

Felix Baumgartner has made an astonishing free-fall from the edge of space back to the surface of Earth.  He rode a Helium balloon 39km into the upper atmosphere and then fell to within a few kilometres of the surface before deploying his parachute.  Find out more at his webiste here: http://www2.felixbaumgartner.com/ and see the clips online at the Red Bull YouTube site here: http://www.youtube.com/user/redbull

James.