RoboAnt: How to Make your Own Robot

Here are three blog posts I wrote on the University of Edinburgh Insect Robotics Group blog that describe in detail how I made RoboAnt.

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On human nature and technology

Hey!

Today, I looked at my flatmate – crouched over his laptop, phased out into the digital dimension and busy with work. “I probably look exactly like him” – my first thought was. Suddenly, I remembered something I read on the topic of embodiment:

“The environment is part of the cognitive system. The information flow between mind and world is so dense and continuous that, for scientists studying the nature of cognitive activity, the mind alone is not a meaningful unit of analysis.” This statement means that the production of cognitive activity does not come from the mind alone, but rather is a mixture of the mind and the environmental situation that we are in. These interactions become part of our cognitive systems. Our thinking, decision-making, and future are all impacted by our environmental situations.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embodied_cognition

Basically, what I get from this wiki article is that humans see the world as an extension of themselves and utilize their surroundings to fulfill their intentions (offloading tasks, for example, as in writing down notes instead of memorizing).

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Now, what does it have to do with my flatmate? Well, I think this explains why people are so immersed into computers that they spend hours a day in an unnatural pose. See, the computer is a powerful tool – it can do many of the things we find difficult (memorizing, maths, wireless communication across the globe) with ease. This is why, when presented the opportunity, we gladly accept it into our cognitive mind as a part of us, loose ourselves into it, feel no hunger, no pain. The benefits are big – we get super powers, basically (WIFI is damn close to telepathy, don’t you think?).

So all is fine, nothing wrong with us… but wait! Back pains, eyesight problems, general health issues – all result from this “pairing”, us and the computer. And that’s a problem. If we agree that everything we do is well within our nature, then the computer must be to blame. And indeed, I claim that the health issues we face are due to how inconvenient computers are… have been so far, at least. This is changing!

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Google glass is just one example of how technology is becoming more intuitive and unobtrusive. We need to wait till next year, when it comes out, to see if it will live up to the hype, but it is certainly a step in the right direction for me.

Now, I blabbered for enough. What do you think?

Happy Beltane! And a week’s worth of blogging

Beltane Fire Festival Dancers

It’s Beltane today! (Wikipedia) Went to an amazing fire show (It was dark and I don’t have a proper camera, so no pictures from me, sorry). I actually quite like pagan rituals like that… feels like a step back to my origins (I am sure my ancestors were wild men living in the mountains… not that many generations ago, either).

Now, one more thing happens today – one week since I started blogging! Maybe time for reflection on the tasks I have set in my first post?

  • At least a post per day – Sure, still hanging there, with the assumption that it’s not tomorrow until I sleep
  • Post something meaningful from time to time d3kod’s Mechanized Android and possibly Robohash and website faces… it’s you to judge, people!
  • Work on the design – Except for adding a “Follow me” shortcut, nothing done here… Definately a Todo for the coming week
  • Get people to follow and interact – Partially successful thanks to frazzledbadger! Thank you, man, you’re great! More followers in the coming week? Yes, please!

All in all, looks like I made some progress, but I should work on design and popularization. Well… tomorrow 😉

Just starting

Hi!

Hi everyone!

This is my first attempt at blogging, as you can probably sense. It is quite a mess in my head what to write about, so here I go with some wishful thinking for the near future of the pond:

  • At least a post per day – what better way to get better at something than doing it every day?
  • Post something meaningful from time to time – I wish it is going to be all the time, but let’s keep things realistic
  • Make your mind up on the main topics of the blog – one topic is probably going to be my passion – computers and programming, but I have the feeling I can also write about other things… we will see how it goes
  • Work on the design – I was unpleasantly surprised by how restricted I am here… thinking of migrating to open space if this blog gets going
  • Get people to follow and interact – ultimately desirable. If I fail here I might as well write my posts on paper on my desk. Actually I wouldn’t do it at all, as handwriting is hard and ugly.

These are enough wishes for now.

If someone by any chance reads me, can you please say hi in the comments below?