90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
The Rise Of Robots In Our Everyday Lives

Robot love, robot work, “killer robots” – we get the latest on robots moving deeper into life.

Kaname Hayashi, a project leader of Humanoid Robots "Pepper," talks with the robot at SoftBank Mobile shop in Tokyo, Friday, June 6, 2014. The cooing, gesturing humanoid on wheels that can decipher emotions has been unveiled in Japan by billionaire Masayoshi Son who says robots should be tender and make people smile. (AP)

Kaname Hayashi, a project leader of Humanoid Robots “Pepper,” talks with the robot at SoftBank Mobile shop in Tokyo, Friday, June 6, 2014. The cooing, gesturing humanoid on wheels that can decipher emotions has been unveiled in Japan by billionaire Masayoshi Son who says robots should be tender and make people smile. (AP)

Human imagination got so far out front, so fast, on robots that robot reality has been vaguely disappointing for a long time.  Isaac Asimov and “WALL-E” and the Terminator put our real robots to shame.  They still do.  But things are changing.  Sensors and chips and AI and mechanics and “the cloud” are coming together to push robot dreams and reality into new terrain.  There is need – we have aging societies that could use the help.  There is risk – talk of jobs lost to robots and “killer robots.”  And there is reality – they’re moving in.  This hour On Point:  the rise of the robots.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Oliver Morton, briefings editor at The Economist. (@Eaterofsun)

Ken Goldberg, roboticist and professor of industrial engineering and operations research in robotics, automation and new media at the University of California, Berkeley. Author of “The Robot in the Garden.” (@ken_goldberg)

Howie Choset, professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotic Institute.

Mark Aaron Goldfeder, senior lecturer at Emory University School of Law.

From Tom’s Reading List

BetaBoston: MIT conference looks at robotics breakthroughs — and big challenges ahead — “Odds are good that no one at yesterday’s ‘Computing the Future’ symposium at MIT, organized to mark the 50th anniversary of computer science and artificial intelligence research at the school, imagined they’d be watching a black-and-white video clip of Julia Child deftly slicing potatoes. But Matt Mason of Carnegie Mellon University showed it to make a point: technology is still far behind humans when it comes to perceiving and interacting with the world.”

Computer World: Why haven’t robots yet changed the world? — “A well-known robotics expert acknowledged Wednesday at an MIT symposium that his field has yet to change the world. After Rodney Brooks, co-founder of iRobot, a former MIT robotics professor and co-founder and CTO of Rethink Robotics, first joked that robotics engineers aren’t smart enough, he avowed that building autonomous, useful robots is really hard — far more difficult than experts in the field had once anticipated.”

The Economist: Immigrants from the future – “DARPA made robots a priority because, like many others, it suspects that the technology may be on the cusp of scaling far greater heights than a nine-step aluminium ladder. It is expressing its support in the unusual, quasi-sporting, highly public forum of the DRC because robotics is a technology unlike any other. As machines that sense their environment, analyse it and respond accordingly, robots lend themselves to showmanship, judged as they are by their actions in the world.”

Watch A Boston Dynamics Cheetah Robot

Watch A Robot Fold Clothes

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Oct 30, 2014
Realtor Helen Hertz stands in front of one of her listings in Cleveland Heights, Ohio Friday, Oct. 24, 2014. Hertz, a real estate agent for more than three decades, has seen firsthand what has happened to the market in the wake of the recession and foreclosure crisis. (AP)

Home ownership rates are at a 20-year low. Millennials and more aren’t buying. We’ll look at what American’s think now about owning a home.

Oct 30, 2014
Soylent is a new meal-replacement substance meant to offer a complete nutritional alternative to traditional food. (Courtesy Soylent)

Soylent is a grey smoothie the consistency of pancake batter that claims it can replace all your food. On a crowded planet, is this the future of food? Plus: what does the Antares rocket crash mean for private space travel?

RECENT
SHOWS
Oct 29, 2014
A visitor looks at the simple wooden cross that marks the grave of Welsh poet and playwright Dylan Thomas, in Laugharne, Wales, Sept. 17, 1963. (AP)

A century after his birth, poet and writer Dylan Thomas lives on. We look at his exuberant work and short life.

 
Oct 29, 2014
In this Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 image provided by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, a young bear is rescued from drowning after eluding officials, at Lake Powell, Utah. (AP)

A big debate in the West over transferring Federal public lands to states. We’ll hear from both sides.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
The Explicast, Episode Two: Why Is Election Day On A Tuesday?
Friday, Oct 24, 2014

The Explicast is back for another round. This time, we’re looking at Election Day, and why we all keep voting on a random Tuesday in early November.

More »
2 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: October 24, 2014
Friday, Oct 24, 2014

On comments, comment sections, and ROY G BIV.

More »
Comment
 
Introducing The Explicast: A New Podcast From On Point Radio
Friday, Oct 17, 2014

Confused about the news? Don’t worry: so are we sometimes! Introducing a new On Point Radio podcast: The Explicast. You can find Episode One right here.

More »
3 Comments