The Future Of Robotics In The Next 10 Years

The Future Of Robotics In The Next 10 Years

In the coming decade, robots will become just as common as cell phones.
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The robotics we’ve all seen in the movies and cartoons of the 1960s and 1970s will become the reality of the 2020s. A profound level of investment in robotics is happening right now that is facilitating advances in big data, network technologies, and artificial intelligence. In the coming decade, there will be substantial breakthroughs in robotics that will rapidly improve human well-being and literally change the human experience. Ultimately, some countries will adopt the new robotic reality while others will flounder far behind unless cultural attitudes change.

Japan, China, the United States, South Korea, and Germany are five counties that have already established themselves as leading robot societies, because their public and private sectors have spent loads of money in funding tech companies that will bring us our robotic future. For instance, Google bought Boston Dynamics, a leading robotics design company with Pentagon contracts, for an undisclosed amount back in 2013. Google also bought DeepMind, and artificial intelligence company that was started by Demis Hassabiss, who was known as the 2nd highest-ranked chess player in the world at the age of 14. Even the Obama Administration has gotten in on the action by launching the National Robotics Initiative in 2011 to stimulate development of robots for industrial automation, elder assistance, and of course -- military applications. Germany and France have initiated similar programs and invested $126.9 million big ones thus far for its robotic-centric future. Although these capitalist economies see big profits in their balance sheets because they expect the market for consumer robots to make $390 billion by 2017 and industrial robots to reach $40 billion in 2020, enthusiasts like myself believe robotics will do more than strengthen corporate balance sheets.

Nanobots, still in their developmental infancy, promise a future in which autonomous machines far smaller than a grain of sand can diagnose and treat human diseases at the cellular level. A microscopic swarm of robots would be injected into the bloodstream that are programmed to eradicate cancer cells or repair organic tissue. Although this sounds like stuff from science fiction, it’s closer to reality that you might think. Similarly, labor shortages will hit service-industry jobs like eldercare with ferocity and will be exacerbated because caretakers have a high job turnover rate due to low pay and high rates of work-related injury from lifting patients. Thus, robotics present a pragmatic solution that promises to fill the need that the eldercare industry will face in the coming decade. Toyota has built a nursing aide named Robina (modeled after the robot housekeeper in "The Jetsons") that can communicate using words and gestures and whose purpose is to care for Japan’s geriatric population. Robina has a brother, Humanoid, that can do the dishes, take care of your parents when they’re sick, and even provide impromptu entertainment by playing the trumpet or violin. And of course, we are all familiar with Honda’s ASIMO, a fully functional humanoid that looks like a four-foot-tall astronaut stuck on Earth and is sophisticated enough to interpret human emotions, movements, and conversations. ASIMO can even shake hands, follow voice commands, and answer questions correctly with a nod or by voice. For elderly patients, ASIMO and future robotics like it can fulfill a range of tasks, from helping a patient get out of bed to holding a conversation.

There are a couple of reasons that robotics will become ubiquitous and central to our lives in the coming decade: the advancement of what developers call belief space and the development of cloud robotics. First of all, Belief Space refers to a mathematical framework that allows us to model a given environment statistically and develop probabilistic outcomes. Essentially, it allows a robot to interact with its surroundings intelligently because it would know the outcomes of its actions and be fully situationally aware (for example, a robot walking through a crowd and avoiding dangerous obstacles like potholes or incoming traffic). Until recently, it was difficult to program a robot for all the possible outcomes that it would encounter in the real world because of the sheer amount of computing power it would require. This leads me to the second advancement, cloud robotics¸ which allows a robot to tap into the cloud and access vast troves of data and shared experiences to enhance the understanding of its own belief space. Before, robots were standalone pieces of electronics with capabilities that were limited to the hardware and software inside the unit. But by becoming networked devices, robots can now incorporate the experiences of every other robot of their kind and “learn” at an accelerating rate. It would be fantastic and so cool if we as people could tap into a worldwide neural network and draw from not just our own limited experiences and expertise, but from that of billions of other people as well.

Alas, robots are the sole carriers of this capability, but many speculate that our robotic future may radically change human life even more than simply servicing our human needs. One view is that it is inevitable robots will surpass humanity and become a species of their own; another is that they can’t possibility compete with human ingenuity; and a third option is that human and machine will become a cohesive unit. Within the robotics community, the future of technology is wrapped up in the concept of the singularity, the theoretical point in time when artificial intelligence will match or surpass human intelligence. If this event in time occurs, it’s unclear what the relationship between robots and humans will become; it would either enhance the human experience or unleash a dystopian future where people become inferior and subservient to machines. Yay.

In the end, the dissemination of robotics will in part depend on a country’s culture, meaning how readily people will accept robots in their lives. For whatever reason, the western world has a deeply rooted fear of robotics. The notion of humanity creating things they cannot control is substantial in western literature and pop culture. Prometheus was condemned to an eternity of punishment for giving fire to humans. Mary Shelley’s "Frankenstein" focuses around a physician whose grotesque creation wreaks havoc and ultimately leads to its creator’s death. "The Terminator" franchise centers around a dystopian future where robots have exterminated most of humanity and its few survivors struggle to survive and alter the course of their fate. These are just a few of the numerous examples where western culture has demonstrated how afraid they are of the impending robotic future. Even though many of North America’s private companies are investing heavily in robotics, the attitude of western consumers means that capitalists will look eastward to sell their robotic-centered products.

Eastern cultures world have shown a more positive stance concerning robots. The ancient Shinto religion, practiced by 80 percent of Japanese people, includes belief in animism, which holds that both objects and human beings have spirits. As a result, Japanese culture tends to be more accepting of robot companions than is western culture, which views robots as soulless machines. In a culture where the inanimate can be considered to be just as alive as the animate, robots can be seen as members of society rather than as mere tools or as threats. The cultural dynamic in Japan is representative of the culture through much of East Asia, enabling the Asian robotics industry to speed ahead, unencumbered by cultural baggage. To me, this means that we will get our first glimpse of a world full of robots in East Asia rather than in any western country. Regardless, I’m excited about our robotics future, and I’m confident that cultural attitudes in the west will slowly change to catch up with eastern societies.

Cover Image Credit: Telegraph

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.
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Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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The 7 Best Food Places Near UCLA You Need to Try ASAP

We have great dining food AND restaurants around us? Wow, we are #blessed.

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Westwood is the home to UCLA and offers plenty of interesting and diverse dining options for students and locals alike. Since the area is firmly Bruin territory, you will find lots of on-the-go, affordable eats along with a mix of more modern and upscale restaurants.

Though I definitely haven't had all the food Westwood occurs, being here two years now (omg already!?), I think I can safely recommend certain places to eat.

1. Shamshiri Grill

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South Westwood Boulevard is often referred to as Little Tehran, so most of that area is just Persian restaurants. Shamshiri Grill just makes the best meat and whenever I go there, I always order my meal with their special hot sauce, that is to DIE for. A must try.

2. Gushi

I can not tell you how many times I've been to this place. Located near Fat Sal's, you may be tempted to just miss it but let me tell you that is a mistake. I always get their Gushi Bowl which is just heavenly and the right amount to make me feel satisfied without being too filling. Be generous with the Teriyaki and Sriracha sauces on your meat and you are guaranteed to have a good time.

3. Pinches Tacos

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I know Mexican food is very common wherever you go but Pinches Tacos is aesthetically pleasing and their food? Even more so. It just tastes so good! I definitely recommend the Asada fries and any tacos.

4. Saffron and Rose

Saffron and Rose is a Persian ice cream parlor like 10 minutes away from Shamshiri Grill and the quality and variety of ice cream is truly impressive. I would not have known my weakness for Jasmine ice cream if I hadn't tried this place and as always, the Saffron and Rose (it's namesake) deserves to be the name of the restaurant because of how rich in flavor it is.

5. Maharaja

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I am very particular about my Indian food but the buffets in the afternoons at Maharaja definitely passes my checklist. I actually went there for my birthday so that just tells you how the food doesn't disappoint.

6. Nekter Juice Bar

I found out about this place very recently and I'm so glad I did because their bowls are so good. They also serve smoothies which I haven't had the pleasure to taste yet but I expect the same kind of quality. I am very partial to the Bruin Bowl and the Dragonfruit Bowl.

7. BJs

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They have $3 Pizookies on Tuesday.

I am always there on Tuesday.

Are these two facts connected? Maybe.

What can I say? I just love the restaurants here.

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