Disembodied Electronic Brains

Contemporary humanoid robots may look cool, but these robots really do very little thinking. They simply follow specific and exact orders from a human operator with preset motions and activities. Sony hopes to address this issue by moving the robot brain outside the robot body. The robot will connect wirelessly to a supercomputing grid that will take care of all processing and should start allowing robots to think for themselves.

Grids combine the processing power and communication ability of computers into a larger entity that acts as one large supercomputer. Grids are beginning to pop up all over, often in unlikely places. There are grids that try to predict the stock market, grids used by universities and researchers for processing-hungry simulations, grids for games that support millions of players at the same time, and grids maintained by businesses to make better use of their own computer resources. All of these grids will continue to grow, diversify, and merge, until the grid fabric becomes so pervasive than no one will be able to tell where one component grid begins and another ends. Robots will tap this enormous supercomputer brain. As robotics and grid technology progress, they will rapidly converge, creating a future that is beyond human predictive abilities. After all, what does it mean to have robots with supercomputer brains or super fast wireless connections to supercomputer brains? What happens when a robot has a supercomputer built into its body AND still connects to the Grid? And what happens when supercomputers begin approaching human-level intelligence?

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Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet. His first published poem, "Roadside Freak Show," arrives on August 21, 2017 in Impossible Archetype.  His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey. Richard is also the Downlink Lead for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) team at the University of Arizona. He monitors images of the Martian surface taken by the HiRISE camera located on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in orbit around Mars and helps ensure they process successfully and are validated for quick release to the science community and public. Once upon a time, Richard wrote and edited the science and technology news and commentary website Frontier Channel, hosted the RADIO Frontier Channel podcast, and organized transhumanist clubs. Follow Richard on his website (richardleis.com), on Goodreads (richardleis), Twitter (@richardleisjr), and Facebook (richardleisjr).