August 25, 2008

Justin Rattner, CTO of Intel, indicates Singularity by 2050 and advanced Claytronics

Justin Rattner, CTO of Intel, agrees with Ray Kurzweil that the Singularity (the time when computer intelligence exceeds human intelligence) is near. Rattner thinks the Singularity will happen before 2050. In the bottom of this article, there is a large update on the Carnegie Mellon University/Intel work on claytronics.

Justin and his colleagues then showed a lot of technology at the Intel Developers Conference. Several of the technologies have been presented on this site before.
- Emotiv Systems demonstrated their brain reading interfaces.
Covered here in 2007 under cheap brain wave activity sensors

- Claytronic catoms were demonstrated (covered here in 2007).

These large catoms will eventually be miniturized to the size of bits of sand and will be able to create shapes the liquid metal terminator or the Sandman.

- a robot arm with "pretouch" ability to sense the location of an apple and seize hold.

- A silicon photonics demo transmitted data at 3.2 gigabits per second from and to a microprocessor using optical signals.

- wireless transmission of 60 watts of power to illuminate a light bulb; it has 75 percent efficiency.

Jan Rabaey, a professor at the University of California-Berkeley, describes his vision for the future of radio communications. Rabaey said he believes each person will have about 1,000 radios soon, most of them vanishingly small. Radio devices, he said, will become "cognitive," so they can automatically sense where there's uncluttered radio spectrum available and which communication protocols should be used at a given moment. He also believes they'll become more collaborative--able to link together in a mesh network that collectively can transmit data faster, in greater quantity, more efficiently, and more reliably.

Rattner holds a Wisp (Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform), a device with a processor, memory, and radio that passively collects energy until it has enough to send a transmission.

Claytronics at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)

Claytronics hardware at CMU

At the current stage of design, claytronics hardware operates from macroscale designs with devices that are much larger than the tiny modular robots that set the goals of this engineering research. Such devices are designed to test concepts for sub-millimeter scale modules and to elucidate crucial effects of the physical and electrical forces that affect nanoscale robots.

* Planar catoms test the concept of motion without moving parts and the design of force effectors that create cooperative motion within ensembles of modular robots.

Planar magnetic rings. Two magnet rings from Planar Catom V7 display the arrangement of their 12 magnets around individual driver boards and the coil design for horseshoe magnets

* Electrostatic latches model a new system of binding and releasing the connection between modular robots, a connection that creates motion and transfers power and data while employing a small factor of a powerful force.

A simple and robust inter-module latch is possibly the most important component of a modular robotic system.

* Stochastic Catoms integrate random motion with global objectives communicated in simple computer language to form predetermined patterns, using a natural force to actuate a simple device, one that cooperates with other small helium catoms to fulfill a set of unique instructions.

* Giant Helium Catoms provide a larger-than-life, lighter-than-air platform to explore the relation of forces when electrostatics has a greater effect than gravity on a robotic device, an effect simulated with a modular robot designed for self-construction of macro-scale structures.

* Cubes employ electrostatic latches to demonstrate the functionality of a device that could be used in a system of lattice-style self-assembly at both the macro and nano-scale.

The Cube above models the primary building block in a hypothetical system for robotic self-assembly that could be used for modular construction and employ Cubes that are larger or smaller in scale than the pictured device.

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