Future Culture

Futurist Writer Lei Kalina writes her tongue-in-cheek musings and ramblings on the growing worldwide phenomenon of the growth of the Future Culture in the 21st Century

Future Culture In The 21st Century

Future Culture In the 21st Century

Futures Studies, Foresight, or Futurology , according to Wikipedia, is the science, art and practice of postulating possible, probable, and preferable futures and the worldviews and myths that underlie them. Futures studies (colloquially called "Futures" by many of the field's practitioners) seeks to understand what is likely to continue, what is likely to change, and what is novel. Part of the discipline thus seeks a systematic and pattern-based understanding of past and present, and to determine the likelihood of future events and trends. Futures is an interdisciplinary field, studying yesterday's and today's changes, and aggregating and analyzing both lay and professional strategies, and opinions with respect to tomorrow.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

You Humanoid , Android You !

Er, don't look at me: I'm not your average Stars Wars fan, and that Keanu Reeves series of The Matrix almost made me puke in boredom and disgust. Sounds like an anti-futurist to you?

Well, it seems that the 21st century --- yes, still at its infancy stage --- is heading for a good future of androids' and humanoids' population. Surely you've heard of Baby Bots, and nurse robots... and that female robot , looking much like a Japanese with chinky eyes ( yep, made in Japan) which would pull its face askew as soon as it hears the words "George Bush."

When Lee Majors started the thought of half-man half-machine with "The Six Million Dollar Man" series , there's no looking back. C3PO and R2D2, that robotic duo who bungled things up in outer space during their "Star Wars" popularity, Arnold Schwarzenegger's "The Terminator", all made their steely presence felt that artificial intelligence and robotics would soon come up with a robotic population that would be making our digital lifestyles easier , more fun , and convenient for all.

by Clockwise from top right: Courtesy USC/CLMCâ€Lab; Courtesy Center for Intelligent Systems; Courtesy Sony; Billy Yip, Man Piu: Photo by Clockwise from top right: Courtesy USC/CLMC–Lab; Courtesy Center for Intelligent Systems; Courtesy Sony; Billy Yip, Man Piu; Courtesy Air Intelligent Robotics and Communications Laboratories

Movie humanoids, from C3PO to the Terminator, have long been able to see, hear, think, and socialize. Today's real-life humanoids–robots with the mechanical equivalents of eyes, head, arms and hands–are finally beginning to catch up. The five bots here are the standard-bearers.

(Clockwise from top right)

Robovie was designed as a personal companion by Hiroshi Ishiguro's team at the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International in Kyoto, Japan. It turns to face a person who's talking to it, maintains appropriate social space during a conversation, points to objects with its finger, and bends down to play with children.

Perhaps the most agile humanoid, the life-size DB, designed by Sarcos Research Corporation, can balance a pole on its palm, juggle, and perform an Okinawan folk dance. It does some serious science too: Stefan Schaal's team at the University of Southern California uses it to test theories of motor control-how the brain plans and generates movement.

It resembles an animated junk heap, but ISAC makes up in creativity what it lacks in looks. Designed by Alan Peters and colleagues at Vanderbilt University, ISAC can express simple emotions and has both short- and long-term memory. Soon, it may even "dream," shuffling its neural connections just as we do when we're sleeping, which could help it devise
creative solutions to thorny problems.

Sony's Dream Robot
It's only two feet tall, but Sony's Dream Robot can wake you up in the morning, tape a television show for you, and ask how your day was. SDR-4X, the latest version, sings, dances, and recognizes voices and faces. It's due out in the U.S. within the next two years-at a cost rivaling that of a luxury car.

RoboSapien's novel engineering allows it to do kung fu moves, pick things off the ground in less than a second, and run "so fast it scares cats," says de-signer Mark Tilden, a robot physicist at Wow Wee Toys, a division of Hasbro. Instead of using computers to calculate how to move, the 14-inch-tall RoboSapien, which will retail for about $80 when it hits stores later this year, uses analog transistors to react to signals from the world around it.

( courtesy of Popsi.com)

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