Biology Magazine

The Early History of the Robot Wars, Part 1

Posted on the 13 December 2012 by Earth First! Newswire @efjournal

IN THIS EPISODE: WTF? In the Eyeballs, Sexy Surveillance Mannequins and Other Shit Escaping the Constraints of Biology

 by Russ McSpadden

WTF In The Eyeball?


Researchers at Ghent University in England have developed a new break through technology that promises to make your near future far more annoying — and especially more boring — than any dystopic science-fiction novel you’ve read. In one giant stupid leap in invasive cyborg technology the team created a curved LCD contact lens that can display text messages. Let’s hope they developed new eye drops to ease the discomfort from all those winking emoticons and raunchy sext messages that’ll arrive right in the eyeballs. Guess this’ll solve that 21st century dilemma of needing to maintain eye contact with the person you are talking to while also texting someone else.

According to chief researcher, Herbert De Smet, at the university’s Centre of Microsystems Technology, it’s “not science-fiction” but the first step towards “fully pixilated contact lens displays,” which will one day, with any luck, allow you to watch Gangnam Style in the comfort of your own, um, pupil.

And while we are on the subject of text messages, did you know that this December 3rd, 2012 marked the 20th anniversary of the first ever Short Messaging Service which some call SMS and others in the know call the text message? Did you throw a party from the sad, silent isolation of your reality of dwindling real life relationships?  The first ever text said, no, not “LOL, can’t believe he said tht shit;), but “Merry Christmas.”

Is That My Consumer Data Gathered By a Creepy Mannequin In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

 Folks, I hate to say it, but that sort-of-sexy, sort-of-creepy mannequin that seemed to be looking at you seductively while you shopped on Black Friday isn’t really that into you. It’s just after your facial nodal points and your purchasing habits (which you shouldn’t give up until the third date).

That’s right; mannequins have already taken sides in the robot wars. Last December, the Italian company Almax SpA unveiled their EyeSee line of fucked-up mannequins that use the same face recognition software technology used to identify potential terrorists at airports. This holiday season they are in use in the U.S. and Europe.

The eye-level data recovery creatures apparently reveal a great deal more than overhead cameras. Oil-based humanoid figures are able to identify and record hundreds of distinguishable peaks and valleys in a single face. They then provide their algorithmic capitalist overlords with your race, gender and intimate shopping habits. So smile and flirt, because you’re face-print is now sharable.

And what have retailers really learned? One store found that one of its doors was used predominantly by Asians after 4 p.m. and that men who shopped in the first two days of a sale spent more than women. Another noted that kids were their biggest demographic at midday and um, they really, really like candy.

Of course, most outlets have been shy to release details they have gathered on individuals. But one chain store that starts with W did announce that you, yeah you reading this right now, preferred soft pastel colored packaging on your pet food items and warm, vibrant reds on your breakfast cereal boxes. They also noted that you spent a few minutes actually talking to the mannequin — even blowing it a kiss — when no one was looking (except the mannequin). Creepy right?

Want to learn how to trick facial recognition? Try these simple steps to avoid the all-seeing-eyes of Big Mannequin and then read more about the Bionic Dummies at Businessweek.

Deception, Thy Name Is Squirrel-Bot And Thy Nut Is The Doom Of Humanity!

Researchers at Georgia Tech’s Mobile Robot Lab have studied potential military uses for robots—from unmanned drones like those used by Obama to kill American citizens to “intelligent” and autonomous Segways — for over a decade.

And guess what, this time they’ve gone too fucking far! Now a team of these researchers is arming robots with the one thing that has separated biological creatures from androids: lying. Using squirrels as their hyperactive and neurotic guide, members of the team program robots to fake each other out. You see, squirrels are keen to hide their food really well for fear of competitors finding their cache. So squirrels create lots of fake stash spots to trick would-be thieves away from their acorns. “Ha, how’d you like that buried pile of leaves and squirrel shit?” you might hear a tricky one say.

So the creators of our future robot overlords decided that robots could be programmed to imitate squirrels and their interlopers, but instead of hiding food, the bots patrol areas where other robots have hidden weapons and other supplies. The robots learn to create fake caches and real ones and the tracking robots learn to look everywhere and to adapt to deception. In both cases, each set of robots learned more about lying and understanding lying through observation.

Wanna see a video of these squirrel-bots in action?

Wanna be a big nerd and read the full scientific paper on deceptive robot behavior?

Be sure to stay tuned for The Early History of the Robot Wars, Part 2 next month only at the Earth First! Newswire.

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