News for Nerds - The Overachieving Robots Edition
- 3/15/2013 |
- 10:00 am
Welcome back to News for Nerds! This week we'll see what happens when you try to tag a 2,000 pound shark, we'll learn how to make better decisions, and we'll get a quick primer on how to send white smoke out your chimney the next time your family settles in for a nice, relaxing conclave. But first, here are your headlines.
* * * * *
If you've noticed an increase in the number of robot-related stories recently, you're not alone. There have been some mind-boggling developments in the world of robotics and artificial intelligence in recent years, and the pace only seems to be quickening.
In fact, there's a growing number of financial experts who believe that robots are more than just a fun fad -- they're a great investment opportunity, too.
One money manager puts it this way: "We forecast a steep change in the automation market over the next few years. Currently worth around $100 billion, we expect it to quadruple by 2020, putting it on par with the market for e-commerce."
So could robots really be a $400 billion business by the end of this decade? Well, current economic models predict that the world growth rate for automated products will jump from around 6.5 percent this year to more than 20 percent by 2015. And when you consider the advances that already have been made in areas like 3-D printing, self-driving cars, and industrial robotics, getting to $400 billion doesn't seem like such a stretch.
For a fun primer on the history (and future) of artificial intelligence, check out this article I wrote a couple years ago on the subject.
- from CNBC
* * * * *
While we're on the topic, there is perhaps no bigger rock star in the world of robotics right now than the Mars rover Curiosity.
Since landing on the Red Planet last August, the $2.5 billion car-sized rover has sent back some pretty jaw-dropping images and has been hard at work collecting and analyzing rock and soil samples.
This week, however, Curiosity made a monumental discovery: an ancient network of rivers that once made the planet habitable for microbial life. This confirms what many in the astronomy community had hoped (and predicted) might be true. Mars was capable of sustaining living things.
The silver bullet in this case is a variety of clay minerals that were discovered in rock dust from Mars' Gale crater. These minerals could only have formed in water. Furthermore, other substances found nearby -- including calcium and phosphate -- indicate that the soil was neutral or mildly alkaline, making the environment suitable for microbes.
Of course this doesn't prove that life did exist on Mars, only that the conditions were right for life to exist there. Still, it's a pretty big deal, and it leads me to wonder what other great Martian mysteries Curiosity might be on the cusp of uncovering.
- from The Guardian
* * * * *
Here are a few other science stories that you might enjoy:
- Not all distractions are bad. Researchers have shown that we make the best decisions when we are distracted by something else.
- Maybe you heard: there's a new pope. The story got a tiny bit of coverage in the news media this week. But my favorite part was learning how the Cardinals manage to get black or white smoke out of the Vatican chimney.
- And finally, check out this video of a very brave group of scientists tagging a 2,000 pound Great White Shark off the coast of Florida. Then read this account of the awesome technology that goes into such a process. Science is cool.
* * * * *
That's all for now! I'll be back with more News for Nerds next week, but be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and to sign up for the free e-Newsletter so that you can properly get your nerd on every single month! And please send any juicy News for Nerds tips to me right here!