Marvin Minsky's Telepresence Manifesto

In this essay, originally published in 1980, the legendary pioneer of artificial intelligence calls for a remote-controlled robot economy

18 min read
Mind and Machine: Marvin Minsky holds a 14-jointed, three-elbowed, computer-controlled, hydraulically muscled mechanical arm
Photo: Dan McCoy/Rainbow

Minsky01

Photo: Dan McCoy/Rainbow
Mind and Machine: Marvin Minsky holds a 14-jointed, three-elbowed, computer-controlled, hydraulically muscled mechanical arm that he built at his MIT lab in the 1970s. This photo appeared in the article "Telepresence," republished here, in the June 1980 issue of Omni.

Over 30 years ago, MIT professor and artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky laid out an ambitious plan calling for the development of advanced teleoperated robotic systems that would usher in a "remote-controlled economy." He coined the term "telepresence" to describe these systems, which in his futuristic vision would transform work, manufacturing, energy production, medicine, and many other facets of modern life. His plan appeared as an essay in the June 1980 issue of the influential—and now defunct—science and science fiction magazine Omni.

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Climate-Friendly Ethereum Is One Merge Away

Successful tests set the stage for the cryptocurrency’s switchover in September

3 min read
A large blue lit data center. A figure wearing a white cleanroom suit walks towards a green lit room.

Here pictured is Evobits crypto farm, an Ethereum mining rig in Romania.

Akos Stiller/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The merge is coming, and crypto may never be the same.

“The merge” is shorthand for Ethereum’s rapidly approaching switch from one compute-intensive form of blockchain verification to a much less resource-heavy method. In other words, the cryptocurrency will be switching from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake. This move, which is years in the making, changes how Ethereum maintains consensus—and drastically slashes power consumption.

“Ethereum’s power-hungry days will soon be numbered,” says Terence Tsao, Ethereum protocol developer at Prysmatic Labs. “And I hope that’s true for the rest of the industry, too.”

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Boston Dynamics AI Institute Targets Basic Research

Hyundai’s new robotics venture recalls Bell Labs’ and Xerox PARC’s glory days

4 min read
A collage of a headshot of Marc Raibert who is an older man with a beard and glasses in a flower print shirt, and an large black and white Atlas humanoid robot
Photo-illustration: IEEE Spectrum; Photos: Boston Dynamics

This morning, Hyundai Motor Group and Boston Dynamics announced the launch of the Boston Dynamics AI Institute, to “spearhead advancements in artificial intelligence and robotics.” BDAII (I guess we’ll have to get used to that acronym!) will be located in Cambridge, Mass., with more than US $400 million of initial investment from Hyundai (Boston Dynamics’ parent company) and BD itself to get things started. Heading up the whole thing will be Boston Dynamics founder Marc Raibert himself, with Al Rizzi (Boston Dynamics’ chief scientist) as chief technology officer.

This new venture looks promising.

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Automating Road Maintenance With LiDAR Technology

Team from SICK’s TiM$10K Challenge creates system to automate road maintenance

4 min read

Developed by a team of students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute as part of SICK's TiM$10K Challenge, their ROADGNAR system uses LiDAR to collect detailed data on the surface of a roadway.

SICK

This is a sponsored article brought to you by SICK Inc.

From advanced manufacturing to automated vehicles, engineers are using LiDAR to change the world as we know it. For the second year, students from across the country submitted projects to SICK's annual TiM$10K Challenge.

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