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As a novelist, Daniel Suarez spins dystopian tales of the future. But on the TEDGlobal stage, he talks us through a real-life scenario we all need to know more about: the rise of autonomous robotic weapons of war. Advanced drones, automated weapons and AI-powered intelligence-gathering tools, he suggests, could take the decision to make war out of the hands of humans.

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Rob Beschizza

Charlie Warzel: "THIS is what google's self driving car can see. So basically this thing is going to destroy us all." [via Matt Buchanan]    

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This is a pretty rare one – a book dedicated to just the layout boards from Mamoru Oshii’s highly acclaimed animated film Patlabor II The Movie. The book (published in 1994) has been out of print for a long time and only used copies are found on Amazon Japan.

This book is probably targeted at more dedicated fans and people studying layout in animation – the semantics used in the captions accompanying each board are pretty esoteric and technical in nature. (below) Some locations in Tokyo used as references in the film – those slum-like structures on stilts are probably not around anymore I think – Tokyoites correct me if I’m wrong.

I bought this book because I’m so in love with Patlabor ( both the feature films and the TV series ). Even if you aren’t particularly familiar with how layout works in Japanese animation – those boards still look pretty cool.

“Methods – Layouts from Patlabor The Movie 2″ art book details :

Dimensions – 0.2 x 22 x 1.4 cm
Soft cover, 178 pages
Mostly in B&W with select colored pages, in Japanese

There is also a similar book for Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost In The Shell : Innocence film. Now this one I’ve never seen in stores or even 2nd hand bookstores like BookOff; must be really rare. You can get a used copy from Amazon too – the link can be found below.

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  2. Patlabor TV Series Art Book Review

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  4. Wolf Children Art Book Review Part II : Layout, CG & More

  5. Patlabor Artbook – The Labor Industry
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We've talked here before about the extremely important (and often-overlooked) DIY aspect of science. Scientists are makers. They have to be. The tools they need often aren't available any other way. Other times, the tools are available, but they're far more expensive than what you could construct out of your own ingenuity.

In this video, researchers at Cambridge build LEGO robots that automate time-consuming laboratory processes at a fraction of the cost of a "real" robot.

Video Link

Via Karyn Traphagen

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Kara, a disturbing short film about a self-aware robot, was made by games studio Quantic Dream to demonstrate the "expressive power" of the PS3's graphics. In order to sidestep the limitations of animating human characters (the so-called, contentious "uncanny valley"), the creators made a story about a newborn, intelligent robot -- a character that is supposed to be subtly unconvincing in its humanity.

"Our goal at the time with The Casting was to use the game engine to see how we could convey different emotions," Cage tells us prior to the GDC talk where he's unveiling a slice of what Quantic Dream has been up to since 2010. "We wanted to see what it would take in terms of the technology but also with the acting, and working with the actor on-stage to have this performance coming across in the game engine. We learned so much doing it for Heavy Rain, from the good things that worked very well but also from the mistakes that we made, and things we could have done differently.
'Introducing Quantic Dream's Kara' Screenshot 1

"When Heavy Rain was over, we thought why not do exactly the same thing and do a short sequence in real-time, in the game engine to see how our next game is going to benefit from what we're going to learn?"

"In Kara, you can't imagine the same scene having the same impact as someone who's not a talented actor. Technology becomes more precise and detailed and gives you more subtleties, so you need talent now. I'm not talking about getting a name in your game - I'm talking about getting talent in your game to improve the experience and get emotion in your game."

Welcome to Kara, the product of Quantic Dream's recent work on the PlayStation 3, and of its investment in new motion capture facilities. Again it's a one-woman show built around a slow tonal shift, again channelled through a strong and actorly central performance - but the distance between Kara and The Casting is as good a measure as any of the technical progress we've seen this generation, and of a shift in ambition and capability within Quantic Dream.

As interesting as this is as a technology demo, I think its real value is in the questions raised by the story and the storytelling choices. The unsettling poignancy of this clip arises from the gender and form of the robot. It would be interesting to re-render this with the "robot" as a kind of arachnoid assembly-line robot with a gender-neutral voice and see what happens to the film's affect.

Introducing Quantic Dream's Kara

(via JWZ)

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It’s a bird, it’s a plane … it’s a fast-flying stun-gunning robocopter?

You better believe it. The Shadowhawk is the latest development in automated grenade flinging – a remote controlled toy-sized helicopter that can record footage as easily as it can shoot a stun baton. You might spot the mini-drone zipping over the coast of East Africa looking out for pirates, or back at home helping the police hunt down criminals.

Vanguard Defense, who spent three years developing this buzzing robot, sure packed a lot into the copter’s seven-foot, 50-lb frame. The Shadowhawk comes in five different varieties and can be outfitted with a turbine or piston engine, CCD TV optics, infrared and thermal cameras, laser pointers, illuminators and range finders. Law enforcement has the option of adding 37 mm or 40mm grenade launchers, or if they feel adventurous, a 12 gauge shotgun. And who knows what other features come with the specialty military version of the chopper.

The Shadowhawk would be able to patrol the land or the sea for up to 2.5 hours at a time at speeds of up to 70 mph. You might think a gust of wind would knock the mini-copter out of the air, but it’s capable of withstanding gusts of up to 50mph. Through out it all, the camera keeps rolling.

Vanguard has already been awarded a multi-million dollar deal to use the robo-copters for anti-piracy missions in Africa, but its hopes for the little tasering robot soar much higher. It envisions the Shadowhawk helping out in everything from tactical night ops to arms trafficking surveillance, from oil rig inspections to perimeter security. Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel of Montgomery County Texas says he can’t wait to use it for SWAT callouts and narcotics raids.

So pirates and crooks, beware. This little bot may not look like much – but when you’ve been knocked to the ground and lost all motor skills, you’ll remember the Shadowhawk.

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Beer Can Robot

This ordinary-looking can actually has circuits inside instead of beer. Currently being developed by Ron Tajima, the transforming beer can robot can walk, roll and revert to its original form.

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