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Russia’s Cyber Cosmonaut, FEDOR has been taught to dual wield pistols. It is not clear quite how a space robot would benefit from this particular skill. Perhaps it is to help FEDOR fight off any Nazis hiding on the moon?

FEDOR (Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research) is being developed by Android Technics in partnership with the Advanced Research fund. Before he mastered pistols FEDOR has already acquired an impressive array of skills. The humanoid robot can drive a car, knows hot to put out a fire, open a lock, repair microchips and a whole host of other complex tasks. Even if he looks a little ungainly doing so.

FEDOR is set to go into space in 2021 and is slated to be the first pilot of Russia’s next generation super-heavy launch vehicle, “Federation”. Once he is in space FEDOR is expected to assist human astronauts in carrying out their duties. There is also a plan for FEDOR to participate in lunar landing missions. Russia hopes that he will be the first robot to literally set foot on the moon.

FEDOR has been taught to dual wield pistols

Fedor can perform a variety of tasks – Credit FPV.tv

Russia’s deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Rogozin, has tweeted a photo of FEDOR in action, followed by a video demonstrating the robots duel wielding skills. While the video and photograph look more than a little intimidating, Mr Rogozin gone out of his way to assure the world that Russia is not teaching FEDOR action movie combat skills to develop a terminator but for the good of science. Apparently, FEDOR has been taught to dual wield pistols in order to perfect his target prioritization  and decision making skills. So, no need to worry then?

Sadly, the footage of FEDOR is a visceral reminder of the fact that robots are being developed for less benign purposes than scientific advancement. Even if it is unlikely that we will see FEDOR or his descendants on the front lines, most countries are exploring the potential combat roles that robots and artificial intelligence could play in future conflicts.

All gun play aside, FEDOR could well set a trend for the future. Autonomous and unmanned vehicles are already used for exploring hostile terrain here on earth and robots will be able to undertake tasks that would be too dangerous, difficult or expensive for a human to perform.

I for one am looking forward to seeing what FEDOR can do to help us explore space. Although I do hope he leaves his pistols back on Earth.

You'll find me wandering around the Science sections mostly, excitedly waving my arms around while jumping up and down about the latest science and tech news. I am also occasionally found in the gaming section, trying to convince everyone else that linux is the future of the computer gaming.

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Artificial Intelligence

ChatGPT Will Soon “See, Hear, And Speak” With Its Latest AI Update

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A major update to ChatGPT lets the chatbot respond to images and voice conversations. The AI will hear your questions, see the world, and respond.

OpenAI, the non-profit group behind ChatGPT and DALL-E, announced the “multimodal” update in a blog post on Monday, saying it will add voice and image features to ChatGPT Plus and Enterprise over the next two weeks.

The post said it would be available for other groups “soon after.” It was unclear when it would be added to free versions.

Part of this update may be like Siri and Alexa, where you can ask a question and get the answer.

Anyone who’s used ChatGPT knows its AI isn’t a sterile search engine. It can find patterns and solve complex problems creatively and conversationally.

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According to OpenAI, “Snap a picture of a landmark while traveling and have a live conversation about what’s interesting about it” could expand these abilities. To decide what to make for dinner, take pictures of your fridge and pantry at home and ask questions for a recipe. Take a photo, circle the problem set, and have it share hints with your child after dinner to help them with a math problem.

This development “opens doors to many creative and accessibility-focused applications,” said OpenAI. They added that it will pose “new risks, such as the potential for malicious actors to impersonate public figures or commit fraud.”

The update currently only allows voice chat with AI trained with specific voice actors. It seems you can’t ask, “Read this IFLScience article in the voice of Stephen Hawking.”

However, current AI technology can achieve that.

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Artificial Intelligence

Track People and Read Through Walls with Wi-Fi Signals

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Recent research has shown that your Wi-Fi router’s signals can be used as a sneaky surveillance system to track people and read text through walls.

Recently, Carnegie Mellon University computer scientists developed a deep neural network that digitally maps human bodies using Wi-Fi signals.

It works like radar. Many sensors detect Wi-Fi radio waves reflected around the room by a person walking. This data is processed by a machine learning algorithm to create an accurate image of moving human bodies.

“The results of the study reveal that our model can estimate the dense pose of multiple subjects, with comparable performance to image-based approaches, by utilizing WiFi signals as the only input,” the researchers wrote in a December 2022 pre-print paper.

The team claims this experimental technology is “privacy-preserving” compared to a camera, despite concerns about intrusion. The algorithm can only detect rough body positions, not facial features and appearance, so it could provide a new way to monitor people anonymously.

They write, “This technology may be scaled to monitor the well-being of elder people or just identify suspicious behaviors at home.”

Recent research at the University of California Santa Barbara showed another way Wi-Fi signals can be used to spy through walls. They used similar technology to detect Wi-Fi signals through a building wall and reveal 3D alphabet letters.

WiFi still imagery is difficult due to motionlessness. “We then took a completely different approach to this challenging problem by tracing the edges of the objects,” said UC Santa Barbara electrical and computer engineering professor Yasamin Mostofi.

 

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Artificial Intelligence

A futurist predicts human immortality by 2030

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Ray Kurzweil, a computer scientist and futurist, has set specific timelines for humanity’s immortality and AI’s singularity. If his predictions are correct, you can live forever by surviving the next seven years.

Kurzweil correctly predicted in 1990 that a computer would beat human world chess champions by 2000, the rise of portable computers and smartphones, the shift to wireless technology, and the Internet’s explosion before it was obvious.

He even checked his 20-year-old predictions in 2010. He claims that of his 147 1990 predictions for the years leading up to 2010, 115 were “entirely correct” 12 were essentially correct, and 3 were entirely wrong.

Of course, he miscalculates, predicting self-driving cars by 2009.

Though bold (and probably wrong), immortality claims shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. Kurzweil has made bold predictions like this for years, sticking to his initial dates.

“2029 is the consistent date I have predicted for when an AI will pass a valid Turing test and therefore achieve human levels of intelligence,” Kurzweil said in 2017. “I have set the date 2045 for the ‘Singularity’ which is when we will multiply our effective intelligence a billion fold by merging with the intelligence we have created.”

Kurzweil predicts we will “advance human life expectancy” by “more than a year every year” by 2030. Part of this progress toward the singularity 15 years later will involve nanobots in our bloodstream repairing and connecting our brain to the cloud. When this happens, we can send videos (or emails if you want to think about the duller aspects of being a freaking cyborg) from our brains and backup our memories.

Kurzweil believes the singularity will make humans “godlike” rather than a threat.

We’ll be funnier. Our sexiness will increase. We’ll express love better,” he said in 2015.

“If I want to access 10,000 computers for two seconds, I can do that wirelessly,” he said, “and my cloud computing power multiplies ten thousandfold. We’ll use our neocortex.”

“I’m walking along and Larry Page comes, and I need a clever response, but 300 million modules in my neocortex won’t work. One billion for two seconds. Just like I can multiply my smartphone’s intelligence thousands-fold today, I can access that in the cloud.”

Nanobots can deliver drug payloads into brain tumors, but without significant advances in the next few years, it’s unlikely we’ll get there in seven years. Paralyzed patients can now spell sentences and monkeys can finally play Pong with brain-computer interfaces.

Kurzweil says we’re far from the future, with human-AI interactions mostly the old way. His accuracy will be determined by time. Fortunately, his predictions predict plenty of time.

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