1. There was a time—it seems prehistoric now—when I started the workday by “getting caught up.” I’d go through my e-mail, check a few websites, and start on the day’s new tasks. By mid-2013, there was no such thing as caught up; there was, at best, keeping up. To step away from e-mail, news feeds, texts, chats, and social media for even a moment was to allow their deposited information to accumulate like snow in the driveway, a burden that grew every second it was neglected
  2. News broke last week that NASA is building an air traffic control system for unmanned aerial vehicles… San Francisco drone startup Airware is helping…. The features of the software they will develop are not yet decided, but they will test aircraft spacing, collision avoidance and trajectory modeling. Early on, the system will require human involvement, Kallman said. But eventually it will be automatic. The drones and air traffic control system would check in with each other and make decisions about flight times and paths on their own.
    The network would not blanket the entire U.S. Instead, it would only cover areas that are likely to have congested drone traffic
  3. The absence of important technical inventions between the prehistoric age and comparatively modern times is truly remarkable. Almost everything which really matters and which the world possessed at the commencement of the modern age was already known to man at the dawn of history. Language, fire, the same domestic animals which we have to-day, wheat, barley, the vine and the olive, the plough, the wheel, the oar, the sail, leather, linen and cloth, bricks and pots, gold and silver, copper, tin, and lead-and iron was added to the list before 1000B.C.-banking, statecraft, mathematics, astronomy, and religion. There is no record of when we first possessed these things. At some epoch before the dawn of history perhaps even in one of the comfortable intervals before the last ice age-there must have been an era of progress and invention comparable to that in which we live to-day. But through the greater part of recorded history there was nothing of the kind.
  5. The medieval courts of Europe, particularly those of France, appear to have dealt with a ‘miscellaneous crew’ of beasts, including ‘caterpillars, flies, locusts, leeches, snails, slugs, worms, weevils, rats, mice, moles, turtle doves, pigs, bulls, cows, cocks, dogs, asses, mules, mares and goats’. … Sometimes, as in the case of a condemned French donkey, an appeal and retrial resulted in a sentence of hanging being commuted – to being ‘simply knocked on the head’. … Occasionally, the parties would try to reach an out-of-court settlement. In one case involving an infestation of termites in a Franciscan monastery, the defence counsel submitted that the monks had moved in long after the insects, and were therefore trespassing on the termites’ land. Persuaded by the force of this argument, the court gave its blessing to a compromise by which the plaintiffs were forced to provide suitable accommodation for the defendants in the grounds of the monastery
  6. IN THE early 1960s prank comedy duo James Coyle and Mal Sharpe wandered the streets of San Francisco with a tape recorder making outrageous proposals to strangers. They had a special fondness for bizarre medical experiments. “Doctors have discovered that human beings, like birds, have the capacity to grow feathers,” they would say. “Would you be willing to exchange your clothing for plumage like a pheasant?” Or, “Would you be opposed to the idea of having a portion of your head surgically modified and used as a storage place for sugar?”

    There is more than a little of Coyle and Sharpe in the contemporary movement known as transhumanism

  8. Disney has filed a trio of applications involving drones…

    One of the applications is for a multi-drone system that would hold aloft a projection screen for a nighttime display. Such a display would utilize what Disney calls “flixels,” which is an Imagineer word creation for “floating pixels,” ….

    In the second patent application, Disney said “the UAVs execute the flight plans to move and to position the flexible projection screens within the display air space,”…

    The third patent application is as bizarre-sounding as it is futurist in concept. It would use multiple drones attached to balloons or super-large puppets to make them move

  9. When tech experts who aren’t roboticists ignore all of the inconvenient barriers to the development and deployment of robots, from manufacturing costs to legal and political considerations, the machines are always a decade or so from invading a given profession
  10. (via Companies that use robots are creating jobs for people | Robohub) 1955 Time Magazine “clink clank think”

    (via Companies that use robots are creating jobs for people | Robohub) 1955 Time Magazine “clink clank think”

  11. The more a procedure is automated, and the more comfortable we become with it, the less conscious attention we feel we need to pay it. In Schooler’s work on insight and attention, he uses rote, automated tasks to induce the best mind-wandering state in his subjects. If anyone needs to remain vigilant, it’s an airline pilot. Instead, the cockpit is becoming the experimental ideal of the environment most likely to cause you to drift off
  12. iRobot, the manufacturers of the Packbot bomb-disposal robots, have actually received boxes of shrapnel consisting of the robots’ remains after an explosion with a note saying, “Can you fix it?” Upon offering to send a new robot to the unit, the soldiers say, “No, we want that one.” That specific robot was the one they had shared experiences with, bonded with, and the one they did not want to “die.”
  13. Robots and theater may seem like an odd pairing until you remember that robots got their name from a 1920 play by the Czech playwright, Karel Čapek.

    R.U.R. — which stands for Rossum’s Universal Robots — tells the story of the rise and fall of a race of worker robots. It is credited with establishing many of the cultural tropes about robots and for applying the name (which in Czech means “drudgery”), that sticks to this da

  14. second wave robots will be working with people, up close and personal. This contrasts with their first wave ancestors that, by and large, are dangerous for humans…
    Second wave robots will be networked…made of very different kinds of stuff… and smarter – although not as smart as some would have
    you believe… We will expect our robots to understand us better, and to behave ethically – even if that means a robot occasionally does not do what we ask of it