This week tech news is all about evolution. The development of robot technology, specifically AlterG’s Bionic Leg and Boston Dynamic’s “Atlas,” further blurs the line between man and machine. And as our digital age continues to reinvent itself, does that change our rights to privacy? How does technology alter what it means to be human and what rights we have in a wired world?
Here is this week’s rDigital News roundup:
Bionic leg offers new step toward robot evolution
AlterG called its latest device “the first wearable, mobile robotic exoskeleton for lower extremity physical therapy.” More simply, it’s a bionic leg. For those who suffer leg or spinal injuries, MS or even a stroke, this new robotic tool can help people regain their ability to walk. In an article in Gizmondo, reporter Brent Rose suited up and tried the new device and his first reaction was, “I have never, in my entire life, felt anything like this. I. Am. Robocop.”
Devices like the AlterG Bionic Leg allow us to augment our bodies. Rob Spence, also known as the “Eyeborg,” spoke to rDigitaLife about blurring the line between real people and robots “I think it’s just a normal evolution,” he said. “We are taller, were stronger. We have contact lenses, people are getting laser surgery, they’re getting boob jobs, this is all normal to us because we are used to it and it’s happened sort of gradually…it’s just moving a little quicker now.”
Would you replace your legs to be able to run faster? Your eyes to be able to see beyond human capacity? What happens when we reach a stage when the alternative is better than the real thing?
While some robots amplify human abilities, other robot technology is designed to simply mirror what we do. This week Boston Dynamics released video of “Atlas,” a Pentagon-financed “humanoid” robot with super human abilities. While Atlas is being developed to venture into situations too dangerous for humans, such as natural disasters, does the evolution of robots pose an inherent danger to our concept of humanity?
MIT professor and author Sherry Turkle believes the emotional gap will always differentiate artificial beings from real humans. “Robots will never know the arc of the human life,” she says. “Will never know death, will never fear death…will never know what it’s like to have a child, will never know what it is to fear the loss of a child.”
As robots continue to evolve, do you think there certain characteristics that will remain unique to humans?
Check these articles for more about Atlas:
- ‘Atlas’ humanoid robot climbs stairs, jumps in stunning video – CTV News
- US unveils ‘Atlas’ humanoid robot test bed – BBC News
- Meet Atlas, the Robot Designed to Save the Day – MIT Technology Review
Pirate Bay founder offers a new option to protect privacy
With the PRISM scandal still making headlines, co-founder of Pirate Bay Peter Sunde plans to crowdfund an app that encrypts the text of incoming and outgoing phone messages on both ends. The privacy app, called “Hemlis” – the Swedish word for “Secret” and once again it raises questions about digital privacy. What does it mean to have private data in an internet age?
Read more about the upcoming app below and stay tuned to rdigitaLife for our upcoming series on privacy:
- Pirate Bay co-founder to release Hemlis encrypted messaging app – The Guardian
- Pirate Bay Co-Founder Plans Encrypted Messaging App – Wall Street Journal
By: Ishani Nath (@ishaninath)