Blow Your Mind: Machines, Morality and Sexbots

As we covered in a previous episode, robots can now be programmed to deceive other robots and even humans. But did you know they can also be programmed to approximate something like guilt? Julie and I consult with Dr. Ronald Arkin of the Georgia Institute of Technology on teaching bots how to process like humans. And yes, we will also talk about sexy, sexy sexbots -- machines crafted through our ingenuity to appeal to our most basic cravings. We've all heard of the notorious Roxxxy. What does it mean to have feelings for a machine, ethically? Dr. Arkin weighs in and even goes so far as to declare Roxxxy a "bad robot." And not in the naughty sense. In the crappy sense.

Blow Your Mind: Children of Tomorrow, Raised by Machines

Imagine a future where machines raise our infants and young people grow up in the embrace of a robotic nursemaid. It may sound far-fetched or even nightmarish, but this is where technology is headed. In the latest episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Julie and I look at the current state of robotic babysitting and ponder just how the children of tomorrow will fare.

Blow Your Mind: Love, Hate and Robots

Whether you're a Valentine's Day celebrant or a devout holdout to the red and pink onslaught, then this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind should do you right. Join Julie and me as we breakdown exactly what's going on in the brain when we love someone (or something). We'll ponder a future where beautiful robots serve as the objects of our affection. And what about that out saying about the thin line between love and hate? Any truth to that? As it turns out, these conflicting emotions share some of the same neural circuitry. Tune in to find out just what this means for our friends and enemies.

Blow Your Mind: Underground Robotic Highways

Is your morning commute driving you crazy? Does the mere sight of an eight-lane highway kill your soul a little? Well what if we could just hand the wheel over to a flipping robot and bury the whole highway system 50 feet underground? That might sound a littlecrazy, but that's the dream of the underground automated highway in a nutshell. Join Julie and I for the latest episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind and you'll descend with us into the mole man-haunted future of America's interstates.

SFSL Roundup: Prosthetic Limbs and Robotic Weapons

I loved the idea of robotic limbs when I was a child. Sci-fi aside, the world of prosthetic limbs continues to amaze me. Technology still can't fully replace a lost limb, but they can restore a great deal of function. As Allison explored in this post, they may someday make us better, stronger and faster. This week's "Stuff From the Science Lab" episodes cover prosthetics as well as the current state of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Are robots alive?

With each year, scientists are building increasingly complex robots, leading to one vital question: At what point does a robot become defined as a living thing, rather than a mechanical device? Tune in to learn more about living robots in this podcast.

Noel Sharkey: Robotics vs. Sci-Fi vs. Anthropomorphism

Last week I had the privilege to chat with Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the U.K.'s University of Sheffield. Noel is the co-founder of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) and has presented his thoughts on the matter to everyone from British Parliament to "The Daily Show." He's exactly the guy you want to talk to for 35 minutes about killer robots. I conducted the interview for the Discovery News article "Are Terminators Real?" and couldn't squeeze in everything Noel had to say. So I thought I'd share some more of his thoughts here -- specifically those related to the anthropomorphizing of machines and how science fiction alters our expectations of robotics.

More Robots to Manhandle Human Corpses

Yes, if the prospect of corpse-eating warbots wasn't enough, Swiss engineers are keeping the dream of a horrifying and ghoulish robotic future alive with Virtobot, which will "not only study dead bodies virtually, but create a digital copy of the cadaver so that it might be studied years down the line." What's not to love?

My Favorite Organic Farmer Is a Robot

With increased focus on smaller farms, slow food and organic cultivation methods, it was only a matter of time till the robots shook hands with hippies and got serious about growing some arugula. Enter the GrowBot: A partnership between the Georgia Institute of Technology and Atlanta's independent food community, rogueApron, GrowBot explores the robotic possibilities for local organic farming. According to founder Lady Rogue, there's a misconception that organic farming is inherently anti-technology. You know what she means: bike-riding, sun tea-drinking treehuggers who prefer actual dirt to an episode of "Dirty Jobs."

Six Real-life Giant Robots

Giant robots have thrived in our popular culture for decades, rampaging through our comic books, video games, movies and Queen album covers. Their appearances in fiction are generally pretty easy to explain. After all, what else are you going to use to battle giant monsters (or other giant robots)? In reality, of course, we simply don't have to contend with rampaging, mutated monsters -- and I cannot stress enough how useless a giant robot would be against a hurricane or meteor. Yet at least six giant robots do in fact exist -- and we developed each of them with a particular purpose in mind.