Category Archives: Cyborgs

Camel Racing Reconfigures Human-Robot Relations


In 2004, Qatar banned the use of child jockeys in camel races. These child jockeys were not young ‘adults’ of 12 or 14, but enslaved 4 or 6yr olds from Sudan. Wired has written about the rise of robotic technology to replace human jockeys, and the end result, that all child jockeys were summarily shipped back to Sudan, without a penny.

Cast your eye over the background of the photo. For every camel carrying a robot, there is a car full of men carrying remote controls and cameras, racing alongside the track. Where is the real action?

The story for me lies in the reconfigured relations, who is doing the work, and where the value lies. The horse was feminized and fetishized as it lost work value. So were all the horse’s attendants. I pity the poor camel.

Robotics I | ISEA2011 Istanbul | The Robot State

The papers/events at ISEA2011 present a smorgasbord of interesting reading from robotics to embodiment, augmentation, virtualization, sensory modes and cultural perceptions.

Oh to be in Istanbul now that ISEA 2011 is there!

“If/Then” by Ken Feingold (2001) – Existential AI Chatbots

Art presages popular culture again.

xkcd: AI


Randall Munroe reads my mind. Only he seems to be a thought or two ahead most of the time. I was there with the chatbots but I did not see them at burning man. Yet. And also, I’m still trying to understand what is with the family car decals over here. Every second car has them. If you’re in the school queue we already know. And if you’re not, we don’t care. Why bother? Maybe my fantasy car decal has minions surrounding every business car and inserting symbolic children into/onto them.

Computer Chip Implant to Program Brain Activity, Treat Parkinson’s | Singularity Hub

I was planning to hack my dad. We were thinking of using a lego robotics motion sensor wired up to a tongue tickler to give him a constant sense of balance.

However, this computer chip from University of Tel Aviv/University of Newcastle etc may be more effective, the real deal not the makerfaire/hackspace version.

An international team of researchers led by Dr. Matti Mintz at the University of Tel Aviv is working on a biomimetic computer chip for brain stimulation that is programmable, responsive to neural activity, and capable of bridging broken connections in the brain. Called the Rehabilitation Nano Chip, or ReNaChip, the device could be used to replace diseased or damaged brain tissue, restore brain functions lost to aging, and even treat epilepsy. The chip is currently in animal testing, but should reach human applications within a few years.

The ReNaChip will significantly improve an existing technology called deep brain stimulation (DBS), a surgical implant that acts as a brain pacemaker for a variety of neurological disorders. DBS delivers electrical stimulation to select areas of the brain via electrodes; for individuals with Parkinson’s, chronic pain, or dystonia, these induced stimulations can significantly alleviate symptoms (e.g. uncontrolled movement). But currently, the stimulation that DBS delivers is constant and unresponsive to brain activity. Because of this, the therapeutic effects are reduced over time. This is where the ReNaChip comes in, making the system responsive to brain activity and fully programmable.

…. article continued

Dolphin-Inspired Man-Made Fin Works Swimmingly: Scientific American

This might not be robots… quite but I came across the Lunocet (pictured above) site completely by accident and was immediately struck by how brilliant an idea this was. Beautiful, effective and why on earth hadn’t any one thought of it before?

On further reading (the Scientific American article), I discovered that, as well as Ted Ciamillo who has taken his design from nature, DARPA and the Segway team have been putting together a Project Swim which utilizes flexing of the larger leg muscles to power a kind of side fan. How cool is that?

ThinkGeek :: I Failed the Turing Test

can we wait for m’s birthday? i don’t think so. it’s my birthday next week!