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Reporter's Notebook: Robots in the Clouds

You used to have to store your robot's brains on the robot, but now you can store them in the clouds. Is anyone worried about the rise of the machine?

Today I went to something called Infusion, an interesting monthly tech lunch and talk at the Berkeley Rep put on by Sylvia Paull.

The featured guest there today was Ken Goldberg who's a professor at UC Berkeley in the field of artificial intelligence and robotics. Today he was talking robots.

Here's a trivia question: Who first coined the word robot?

Give up? The word robot, it turns out, was used in a science fiction play by Karel Čapek in 1920. It means work, or literally “serf labor.”

One of the things I found interesting about the talk was the growing field of cloud robotics.

By now lots of folks have heard about Google’s self-driving car. A Patch blogger recently wrote a post on how .

Well Google uses the internet to navigate the cars, according to Goldberg. It uses Google street view and cloud robotics.

Goldberg says you used to have to put the robot’s brains onboard. Now it can be done with cloud robotics. He claims this is also how Siri voice recognition works.

In a previous incarnation, I produced a tech show for the NPR affiliate in LA. In a segment on Google’s self-driving car, we had on  Paddy Hirsch, a senior producer for Marketplace Money.

Hirsch said “if you’re a fan of the Terminator franchise as I am, you worry about the rise of the machines.”

So, is anyone worried about cars driving themselves around the streets of Berkeley? 

There’s road work being done on Hearst near Oxford and it's a mess of congestion and confusion. I wonder how the self-driving car would see the guy down there directing traffic. Can cloud robotics tell the car that a man’s hand is up telling it to stop?

Maybe one day you'll tell your kids, in my day son, we had to drive the cars ourselves!

Here’s some info on future tech lunch events. If you care to go, email Sylvia Paull here: whoisylvia@aol.com.

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