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Video Friday: Robot Friends – IEEE Spectrum

The ability to make decisions autonomously is not just what makes robots useful, it’s what makes robots robots. We value robots for their ability to sense what’s going on around them, make decisions based on that information, and then take useful actions without our input. In the past, robotic decision making followed highly structured rules—if you sense this, then do that. In structured environments like factories, this works well enough. But in chaotic, unfamiliar, or poorly defined settings, reliance on rules makes robots notoriously bad at dealing with anything that…

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Video Friday: BirdBot – IEEE Spectrum

There are currently about 440 fission reactors operating worldwide, which together can generate about 400 gigawatts of power with zero carbon emissions. Yet these fission plants, for all their value, have considerable downsides. The enriched uranium fuel they use must be kept secure. Devastating accidents, like the one at Fukushima in Japan, can leave areas uninhabitable. Fission waste by-products need to be disposed of safely, and they remain radioactive for thousands of years. Consequently, governments, universities, and companies have long looked to fusion to remedy these ills. Among those interested…

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