28 July, 2008

Sci-Fi is dead, welcome to reality

Recently I was reading about the new Terminator Salvation movie with Christian Bale and it occured to me that this is no longer a work of fiction. We have made the possibility of killer robots a reality. I want to make a for correlations with reality and the terminator story.

First and foremost you cannot have a killer robot without a CPU. central processing unit: the key component of a computer system, which contains the circuitry necessary to interpret and execute program instructions. These program instructions would then be used to make the robot thinking and react but also to give it control over its body.

Here we can see the chip and its relative size. It is bulky and large. Unrealistic at the time but this was the dawn of the computer chip.

We are not so far off, in fact we might have surpassed the technology in many ways. We now have our own super chip that we use in every day things, most notibly the playstation3. This is the cell microprocessor.

IBM's latest supercomputer, IBM Roadrunner, is a hybrid of General Purpose CISC Opteron as well as Cell processors. It is reported that this combination is the first supercomputer to run at petaFLOPS speeds, having gained a sustained 1.0 petaFLOPS speed using the standard linpack benchmark. IBM Roadrunner uses the PowerXCell 8i version of the Cell processor, manufactured using 65 nm technology and enhanced SPUs that can handle double precision calculations in the 128-bit registers, reaching double precision 102 GFLOPs

petaFLOPS speeds are ridiculously fast and can calculate an enormous amount of data at extreme speeds. This is a commercial chip that is in the public sector. If its true that the military sector is really 20-30 years more advanced than the public, then its hard to imagine just what the technology could do.

The mind of the robot has many more developments, it is being researched by many many different people for interaction, navigation, and appearance. And with appearance comes the body. To have a terminator you must have a robot skeleton. These are being developed in great lengths as we speak. In the terminator movies it was described that the first terminators had plastic skin and were very easy to spot. Perhaps genetic manipulations for merging humans and machines will be the culprit in creating the next version of the robot.

Here is an image of the likeness so far. Keep in the mind the arnold terminator was a more advanced robot with real skin and living tissue.

Engineer Ray Kurzweil has predicted that by 2029 machines will indeed match humans, machines will in fact have achieved human level artificial intelligence. This means by at least 2029 we may see tiny robots implanted in people brains which in return will make them more intelligent.

There have been many many movies that have predicted the age of the the robot, irobot, the matrix, terminator. Should we fear this or should we see what happens? irobot seemed pretty pleasant until a specific model of robot came out. Fearing that robots will take over seems a little ridiculous at this point. Reality seems to be a little safer than the movies. I am however a little cautious when it comes to combining robot technology and humans. This has also been seen many times,
Bicentennial Man 1999, Johnny Mnemonic 1995, star treks borg, and star wars luke skywalker arm. All these ideas have a grain of truth and are all potentially beneficial and dangerous. I suppose humanity will always have to take a cautious step forward. Baby steps to the future!

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