Nationality: Terrestrian

Yesterday I heard the wonderful song „Grenzen“ (Borders) on the radio, that touched me deeply. In the refrain German singer-songwriter Dota Kehr demands a new passport for herself, indicating her nationality as „inhabitant of Earth“. That reminds me on the idea of a Flag of Earth like the one you see above, which has been flown at the headquarters of the SETI League and many other places. Of course, there are other concepts, too, for a flag representing humanity as a whole. The final design has to be the result of a global debate, though, where every Earthling should have a vote. Tough task? Yeah, but certainly very well worth the effort.

Birds against Drones

The Dutch company Guard From Above is adding a new switch to the robot arms race, using trained birds of prey to intercept small UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). A video on their website shows a bald eagle catching a quadrocopter during an indoor test. As the Guardian reports, Dutch police seems interested in this approach while not excluding the flying net, demonstrated in Japan, or ray guns.

A Fresh Look at „RoboCop“

German spelling rules require a hyphen between science and fiction to make it Science-Fiction. What seems like an unremarkable line, turns out to be more akin to a demilitarized zone of public debate on robots. You better stay away from it. There are the visions of art and literature on the one side, serious science on the other. When both get too close the risk of mental discharge increases dramatically. It’s an area of danger and fear. An area of adventure and excitement.

I talk about it in more detail in my introduction to the screening of „RoboCop“ (Paul Verhoeven, USA 1987)

Sunday, February 21, 2016, 2:30 p.m. (14:30)

Metropolis, Kleine Theaterstraße 10, Hamburg


See you there,

Hans-Arthur Marsiske

Robotic Assistants for Persons with Dementia

In Artificial Intelligence, Vol. 230 (Jan 2016), Jesse Hoey, Tobias Schröder, and Areej Alhothali (University of Waterloo, Canada) present theoretical foundations of an artificial intelligence (AI) system that could assist persons with dementia by emotionally tailored messages. The system is based on the sociological Affect Control Theory which so far has not been recognized much in AI modeling, and POMDPs (Partially observable Markov Decision Processes).

Dementia is the main reason for elderly people becoming dependent on special care. An AI system may better be able to adapt to the changing personality of a person with dementia than a human, without ever getting impatient or angry. In that sense, the Canadian scientists sketch out a promising path to a future of peaceful and fruitful co-existence between humans and robots.