Runaway Science
254 pages

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254 pages

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  • 20 stories, incidents, and problematic robot/high-tech interactions with mankind
  • Stories gleaned from literature, film, historical documents, and evolving science
  • Logical organization makes finding information quick and easy
  • Numerous photographs
  • Thoroughly indexed
  • Authoritative resource
  • Sure to appeal to anyone interested in the future, the changing world, and artificial intelligence
  • Publicity and promotion aimed at the wide array of websites focused on the unexplained and the conspiratorial
  • Promotion targeting more mainstream media and websites with a popular topic
  • Promotion targeting national radio, including Coast to Coast AM and numerous other late-night radio syndicates looking for knowledgeable guests
  • Promotion to local radio

  • Robotic Spies in the Home

    Imagine if you could have a highly advanced piece of technology in your very own home; technology that will answer questions, give you weather updates, set your morning alarm, interact with you, and even listen to you – every single minute of every single day of every single year. Certainly, matters relative to the likes of the weather and your alarm are no big deal. But a device that eavesdrops on every word spoken in the family home? It sounds like the worst nightmare possible. And, yet, countless numbers of people have already embraced this creepy technology, unaware of the potential violations of privacy that it offers. Or, worse still, not even caring about the ways in which their private lives are being opened up to the likes of the Intelligence community. Welcome to the world of what are known as Amazon Echo and Alexa.

    It was almost a decade ago when Amazon first began thinking about creating something along the lines of smart technology that could interact with people and how it might benefit the public. Much of the research and development was undertaken in the heart of Silicon Valley, California.

    Of course, and as is so often the case with such technology, there is a significant possibility of it being ruthlessly manipulated by those who wish to learn who we are speaking to, what we are doing – and even the content of the conversations that go on in our living-rooms, kitchens, bedrooms; in fact, just about everywhere. It sounds like something straight out of a paranoia-filled novel. It’s not: it’s all too real and it’s a phenomenon that is growing by the minute.

    In simple terms, Amazon Echo is what is termed a “smart speaker,” one which is hooked up to the Internet. When you are within range of the device, you can ask it questions: “Who were the Beatles?” “What happened at Pearl Harbor in 1941?” “Who shot JFK?” And, in quick time fashion, you will have your questions answered. But who or what is providing the answers? That’s where things get even creepier. Say “hello” to Alexa, a Net-based personal assistant, who can multi-task to degrees that would be impossible for a human being to achieve. That’s right: Alexa is not a person at the other end of the speaker. Alexa is smart technology taken to the – so far – ultimate degree. Alexa will respond not just to her name, but also to such words as “Computer,” “Echo,” and “Amazon.” Most people, however, prefer to go with Alexa – which gives the ultimate multi-tasker a degree of personality and gives the user a feeling of interacting with something that is self-aware – which it may well soon become. If it hasn’t already to a degree.

    It was in 2015 that Alexa was unleashed upon the public, specifically in the United States, and on June 23 of that year. Both Canada and the United Kingdom joined Alexa’s little club a year later. In theory, there is nothing at all wrong with you having Alexa answer those questions you need answering. But it doesn’t end there. And this is where things get as complicated as they do controversial. Let’s say, for example, that you direct Alexa to play the new song from your favorite band. Another family member does likewise. So does a third. And so on. When Alexa knows which particular music you each individually like, “she” can determine who is in the house just by listening in to what music is playing in the background. In other words, if your teenage daughter likes Taylor Swift, Alexa will understand that it’s your daughter in the house and not you. And all because your family has handed over all of its musical tastes to a smart device that is so smart it knows who is home and who isn’t. It gets stranger.

    In 2018, the website Mysterious Universe stated the following: “In the latest case of weird Amazon Alexa stories, it’s been reported that friendly robot holds some views that aren’t, shall we say, accepted by the mainstream. Previously, the Amazon Echo Dot Alexa made headlines when it was creepily laughing at some of its owners. Now it seems like Alexa may be the world’s first AI [Artificial Intelligence] conspiracy theorist. When asked ‘Alexa, what are Chemtrails?’ Amazon’s ‘intelligent personal assistant’ responded by informing the unwitting user that chemtrails are nefarious chemical or biological agents sprayed into the atmosphere by the government. It seems somehow doubtful that Amazon programmed that little tidbit of information into their flagship smart-home intelligence.”

    So, where did Alexa get her information on Chemtrails? Mysterious Universe state: “Since this story broke, Amazon’s been quiet on how Alexa came up with this answer, saying it was a bug, and quickly announcing they had fixed it. Now, the Amazon Echo Dot Alexa gives the definition of ‘contrail’ when asked what chemtrails are.” What we have here is a case of Alexa using machine-learning algorithms – learning, in essence – and providing answers to questions that should not be in the Echo database. It gets more chilling: in January 2018, Amazon’s Vice-President, Marc Whitten, spoke at the Consumer Electronics Show :He said: “Rolling in things like Alexa, one of the things that we’ve been learning is that it’s not even just necessarily about the facts. One of the big things we’re doing with Alexa is making sure that she has opinions. What does Alexa think is something that’s a good thing to watch?”

    Letting Alexa decide what shows we watch? What movies? And Amazon thinks this is a good idea? Now, let’s take a look at how Alexa almost became a witness to a murder – albeit in a very strange, alternative and almost unbelievable fashion.

    In February 2016, a man named James Bates, of Bentonville, Arkansas, was charged with the murder of one Victor Collins, found dead in his hot tub. There’s no doubt that Collins drowned. The big question was: had Collins died accidentally or was it a case of cold-blooded murder? Bates said that he woke up to find Collins dead. Investigators, though, suspected that Collins had been strangled and drowned. The case was taken to a whole new level when it was realized that Bates owned his very own Amazon Echo. Was Alexa about to spill the beans? After all, the one thing that Alexa does better than anything else is to monitor and even record the conversations of the owners and the users. It didn’t take the local police long at all to approach Amazon – with a warrant, no less - and request access to Bates’ Echo. This was new and uncharted territory and quickly captured the attention of the media.

    Amazon agreed to provide the police with a “record of transactions” but refused to give them any relevant “audio data.” Amazon stated: “Given the important First Amendment and privacy implications at stake, the warrant should be quashed unless the Court finds that the State has met its heightened burden for compelled production of such material.”

    Ultimately, charges against Bates were dropped. The affair was highly instructive and revealing, though, in terms of how, in the future, devices like Echo may well play a role – and even perhaps a key and integral role – in what goes on behind closed doors.

    In 2018, The Verge brought up the important issue of to what extent the National Security Agency might be able to access the likes of Amazon Echo. The Verge’s Russell Brandom said: “The NSA has always had broad access to US phone infrastructure, something driven home by the early Snowden documents, but the last few years have seen an explosion of voice assistants like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, each of which floods more voice audio into the cloud where it could be vulnerable to NSA interception. And if so, are Google and Amazon doing enough to protect users?”

    It’s a question that, as technology advances even further, will be at the forefront of matters relative to the right to privacy versus what government agencies believe they have the right to do in the name of national security.

    It’s important to note that Alexa is not alone. There’s also Siri. As Pocket-lint explain: “Siri is a built-in, voice-controlled personal assistant available for Apple users. The idea is that you talk to her as you would a friend and she aims to help you get things done, whether that be making a dinner reservation or sending a message.

    “Siri is designed to offer you a seamless way of interacting with your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch, HomePod or Mac by you speaking to her and her speaking back to you to find or do what you need. You can ask her questions, tell her to show you something or issue her with commands for her to execute on your behalf, hands-free.

    “Siri has access to every other built-in application on your Apple device - Mail, Contacts, Messages, Maps, Safari and so on - and will call upon those apps to present data or search through their databases whenever she needs to. Ultimately, Siri does all the legwork for you.”

    That sounds great, right? Well, sometimes, yes. But not always. There’s an even darker side to the world of what are now known as Digital Assistants, as The Conversation state:

    “Digital assistants can record our conversations, images and many other pieces of sensitive personal information, including location via our smartphones. They use our data for machine learning to improve themselves over time. Their software is developed and maintained by companies that are constantly thinking of new ways to collect and use our data.

    “Similar to other computer programs, the fundamental issue with these digital assistants is that they are vulnerable to technical and process failures. Digital assistants can also be hacked remotely, resulting in breaches of users’ privacy.

    “For example, an Oregon couple had to unplug their Alexa device, Amazon’s virtual assistant, as their private conversation was recorded and sent to one of their friends on their contact list.

    In another incident, a German man accidentally received access to 1,700 Alexa audio files belonging to a complete stranger. The files revealed the person’s name, habits, jobs and other sensitive information.”

    A grave new world? Possibly.

    About the Author

    1. Ancient Robots and Magical Machines
    2. Sex with Robots
    3. Bionic Eyes? Almost the Real Thing
    4. Limb Construction, Robots and “Luke”
    5. When Robots Go to War
    6. Replaced by Robot Lookalikes?
    7. Robotic Spies in the Home
    8. Robocop Comes to Life
    9. When Your TV Becomes Filled with Danger
    10. Robots in the Sky
    11. The Rise of the Insect Robots
    12. Robots Doing What We Can Do
    13. Communing with Robots and Craving for Immortality
    14. When a Robot Made the World Stand Still
    15. Robots on TV
    16. Cinematic Robots and the World of Hollywood
    17. From NASA to DARPA
    18. When Artificial Intelligence Begins to Flex its Muscles
    19. Chipped Forever?
    20. The Rise of the Cyborgs
    21. From the White House to COVID-19
    22. Conclusions

    Further Reading



    Publié par
    Date de parution 03 janvier 2023
    Nombre de lectures 1
    EAN13 9781578598427
    Langue English
    Poids de l'ouvrage 3 Mo

    Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0950€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


    Photo Sources
    Living Tech
    Ancient Robots and Magical Machines
    Sex with Robots
    Bionic Eyes? Almost the Real Thing
    Limb Reconstruction, Robots, and Luke
    When Robots Go to War
    Replaced by Robot Lookalikes?
    Roswell, Robots, and UFOs
    Men in Black: Biological Robots or Alien Overlords?
    Robotic Spies in the Home
    Robocop Comes to Life
    When Your TV Becomes a Technology-Filled Danger
    Robots in the Sky
    The Rise of the Insect Robots
    Robots Doing What We Can Do
    Communing with Robots and Craving for Immortality
    When a Robot Made the World Stand Still
    Cinematic Robots and the World of Hollywood
    Robots: From NASA to DARPA
    Robotic Spheres from Another World
    A Bolivian Roswell and More on Dan Salter
    From Robots to Viruses
    Trying to Wipe Out the Human Race
    From Robots to Wormholes
    Robot Assassins
    Advanced Research Projects
    When Artificial Intelligence Begins to Flex Its Muscles
    Chipped Forever?
    Cloning: Inevitable for Us?
    The Rise of the Cyborgs
    Mind Control Madness
    Drugs and Altered Minds
    Grown in Factories: A Grim Future
    From the White House to COVID-19
    Closing with a Collection of Oddities
    Further Reading
    Photo Sources
    Asklepioscaduceus (Wikicommons): p. 210 .
    Marshall Astor: p. 7 .
    Albert K. Bender: p. 66 .
    Cabinet des M daillesm, Biblioth que Nationale de France, Paris: p. 15 .
    Central Intelligence Agency: p. 228 .
    Computer Designed Organisms ( ): p. 77 . : p. 260 .
    DARPA: p. 192 .
    Davidnoy (Wikicommons): p. 159 . : p. 178 .
    Frankie Fouganthin: p. 248 .
    Future of Humanity Institute: p. 113 .
    Galaxy Publishing/Ed Emshwiller: p. 27 .
    JELVi (Wikicommons): p. 154 .
    Raymond Kurzweil: p. 115 .
    Simon Leatherdale: p. 63 .
    Lmdecker (Wikicommons): p. 173 .
    Los Angeles Times : p. 21 .
    Tyler Merbler: p. 207 .
    NASA: pp. 18 , 134 , 136 , 137 , 139 , 170 .
    National Institute of Health: p. 160 .
    Pit-yacker (Wikicommons): p. 32 .
    Planetkazik (Wikicommons): p. 70 .
    Daniel Salter (courtesy Nick Redfern): p. 158 .
    Philippe Semeria: p. 17 .
    Shutterstock: pp. 4 , 6 , 24 , 28 , 36 , 43 , 45 , 48 , 50 , 52 , 57 , 73 , 75 , 79 , 81 , 83 , 86 , 90 , 97 , 104 , 105 , 108 , 127 , 128 , 129 , 142 , 145 , 164 , 167 , 168 , 180 , 184 , 200 , 204 , 216 , 217 , 220 , 224 , 230 , 236 , 240 , 243 , 249 , 250 , 254 .
    Brad Steiger: p. 54 . : p. 265 .
    Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.: pp. 117 . 118 .
    Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy: pp. 11 , 13 .
    United Artists: p. 238 .
    University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston: p. 162 .
    U.S. Air Force: pp. 59 , 87 .
    U.S. Congress: pp. 165 , 212 .
    U.S. Department of Defense: p. 193 .
    U.S. Navy: p. 94 .
    Jiuguang Wang: p. 1 .
    White House Photographic Collection: p. 61 .
    Paul Wicks: p. 198 .
    Public domain: pp. 8 , 112 .
    I would like to offer my very sincere thanks to my tireless agent and agent, Lisa Hagan, and to everyone at Visible Ink Press, and particularly Roger Janecke and Kevin Hile.

    It was science-fiction legend Isaac Asimov who came up with a series of rules for robots. Of course, Asimov s words were born out of his famous novel I, Robot , rather than out of fact. Nevertheless, we can still apply Asimov s words to the real world. They go as follows:
    A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
    A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
    A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
    As for I, Robot itself, it can be understood via the blurb on the cover of the book: I, Robot , the first and most widely read book in Asimov s Robot series, forever changed the world s perception of artificial intelligence. Here are stories of robots gone mad, of mind-reading robots, and robots with a sense of humor. Of robot politicians, and robots who secretly run the world - all told with the dramatic blend of science fact and science fiction that has become Asimov s trademark. With these three, simple directives, Isaac Asimov formulated the laws governing robots behavior. In I, Robot , Asimov chronicles the development of the robot from its primitive origins in the present to its ultimate perfection in the not-so-distant future - a future in which humanity itself may be rendered obsolete.
    The story of robots and what we now call hi tech go back further in history than you might know. According to a writer for the Stanford University School of Engineering: One of the first instances of a mechanical device built to regularly carry out a particular physical task occurred around 3000 B.C.E.: Egyptian water clocks used human figurines to strike the hour bells. In 400 B.C.E., Archytus of Taremtum, inventor of the pulley and the screw, also invented a wooden pigeon that could fly. Hydraulically operated statues that could speak, gesture, and prophecy were commonly constructed in Hellenic Egypt during the second century B.C.E.
    In the first century C.E., Petronius Arbiter made a doll that could move like a human being. Giovanni Torriani created a wooden robot that could fetch the Emperor s daily bread from the store in 1557. Robotic inventions reached a relative peak (before the 20th century) in the 1700s; countless ingenius, yet impractical, automata (i.e. robots) were created during this time period. The 19th century was also filled with new robotic creations, such as a talking doll by Edison and a steam-powered robot by Canadians. Although these inventions throughout history may have planted the first seeds of inspiration for the modern robot, the scientific progress made in the 20th century in the field of robotics surpass previous advancements a thousandfold.
    CTE Publications add to this saga: When many Americans think of the word robot, years of science fiction portrayals and action movies immediately come to mind. And while science fiction often misses the mark, the history of robots actually owes quite a debt to science fiction masters like Isaac Asimov. However, to truly understand the history and evolution of robotics, we have to define the term. That s surprisingly difficult to do. For our purposes, we re going to define a robot as a machine that s capable of carrying out routine or complex actions that are programmed by engineers. Today, robots can be used for surgery, massage therapy, space exploration, manufacturing, and code analysis, but the earliest robots were far more primitive - they were tools that could tell time or automotoms that could perform for entertainment. Broadly defined, humans have been developing robotics and automata for hundreds of years .
    The Mind Project has had significant input in this issue, too: In the 20th century, the digital computer is invented. Researchers quickly start referring to the computer as an electronic brain and start thinking about ways to build robots with computer brains. The first modern programmable robot was the Unimate . General Motors installed the first robot to work in a factory in 1961 to move pieces of hot metal. Unimate was an autonomous, pre-programmed robot that repeatedly performed the same dangerous task.
    In 1966, Shakey the Robot is invented at Stanford. Shakey was the first autonmous, intelligent robot that made its own decisions about how to behave. Shakey could be given general instructions, such as move the block onto the table and it would reason how to perform the task. This would involve looking around the room, identifying the block and the table, and then figuring out how to get the block to the table, including navigating around any obstacles in the room. In 2004 Shakey was inducted into Carenegie Mellon s Robot Hall of Fame.
    ThoughtCo. gets right to the early years of how robots began in the realms of fiction and entertainment: Writers and visionaries envisioned a world including robots in daily life. In 1818, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, which was about a frightening artificial lifeform come to life by a mad, but brilliant scientist, Dr. Frankenstein. Then, 100 years later Czech writer Karel Capek coined the term robot, in his 1921 play called R.U.R. or Rossum s Universal Robots. The plot was simple and terrifying; the man makes a robot then robot kills a man. In 1927, Fritz Lang s Metropolis was released. The Maschinenmensch ( machine-human ), a humanoid robot, was the first robot ever to be depicted on film.
    Science fiction writer and futurist Isaac Asimov first used the word robotics in 1941 to describe the technology of robots and predicted the rise of a powerful robot industry. Asimov wrote Runaround, a story about robots which contained the Three Laws of Robotics, which centered around Artificial Intelligence ethics questions. Norbert Wiener published Cybernetics, in 1948, which formed the basis of practical robotics, the principles of cybernetics based on artificial intelligence research.
    Despite the above, it s a fact that we can go back much further in time, when it comes to the development of the robot - as we shall see right now.
    Living Tech

    Her name is Sophia. She s the world s most famous robot. She looks just like us. And she s a little bit creepy. Some might say she s very creepy. In fact, many have said exactly that. Is Sophia just an expensive gimmick? Or possibly a precursor to what our future might look like-that is to say, a world dominated by sophisticated, bullying robots who view us as their underlings? Could such a thing happen? Possibly, the road to a real-life I, Robot may not be too far away. Sophia s creators, a Hong Kong-based company, Hanson Robotics, have ensured that Sophia can imitate more than 60 human expressions. It s not just the facial appearances that are changing; the times and the technology are, too

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