Tag Archives: Karl Bode

June 7 – 10, 2022 in Grenoble, France, a conference and a 6G summit to explore pathways to 6G, ‘Internet of Senses’, etc.

As far as I can tell, 5G is still not widely deployed. At least, that’s what I gather from Tim Fisher’s article profiling the deployment by continent and by country (reviewed by Christine Baker; updated on June 2, 2022) on the Lifewire website, Note: Links have been removed)

5G is the newest wireless networking technology for phones, smartwatches, cars, and who knows what else, but it’s not yet available in every region around the world.

Some estimates forecast that by 2025, we’ll reach 3.6 billion 5G connections, a number expected to grow to 4.4 billion by 2027.

I skimmed through Fisher’s article and the African continent would seem to have the most extensive deployment country by country.

Despite the fact that we’re years from a ubiquitous 5G environment, enthusiasts are preparing for 6G. A June 1, 2022 news item on Nanotechnology Now highlights an upcoming conference and 6G summit in Grenoble, France,

Anticipating that 6G systems will offer a major step change in performance from gigabit towards terabit capacities and sub-millisecond response times, the top two European conferences for communication networks will meet June 7-10 [2022] to explore future critical 6G applications like real-time automation or extended reality, an “internet of senses”, sustainability and providing data for a digital twin of the physical world.

The hybrid conference, “Connectivity for a Sustainable World”, will accommodate both in-person and remote attendance for four days of keynotes, panels, work sessions and exhibits. The event is sponsored by the IEEE Communications Society and the EU Association for Signal Processing and will be held in the WTC Grenoble Convention Center.

“The telecom sector is an enabler for a sustainable world,” said Emilio Calvanese Strinati, New-6G Program director at CEA-Leti, which organized the conference. “Designed to be energy efficient, with low carbon footprints, telecoms will be a key enabler to reduce CO2 emissions in the ICT sectors. For example, 6G targets multi-sensorial virtual reality, e.g. the metaverse, and remote work and telepresence, which enable people to interact without travelling.”

The conference also will explore new smart network technologies and architectures needed to dramatically enhance the energy efficiency and sustainability of networks to manage major traffic growth, while keeping electromagnetic fields under strict safety limits. These technologies will form the basis for a human-centric Next-Generation Internet and address the European Commission’s Sustainable Development Goals, such as accessibility and affordability of technology.
The Grenoble gathering is the 31st edition of the EuCNC [EU-China Commission] conference, which merged two years ago with the 6G Summit. The joint conference was established by the European Commission for industry, academia, research centers and SMEs from across the ICT and telecom sectors to cooperate, discuss and help realize the vision for European technological sovereignty. It is intended to be held for in-person attendance, with remote attendance in a hybrid mode.

“The EuCNC and 6G Summit members are playing an important role in supporting the EU’s goal of European Sovereignty and cybersecurity in 5G and 6G in parallel with the French microelectronics industry’s support of the European Chips Act,” said Calvanese Strinati, who will help lead a workshop, “Semantic and Goal Oriented Communications, an Opportunity for 6G?”, on June 7.

Keynotes (all times CEST) [Central European Summer Time]

“Shaping 6G: Revolutionizing the Evolution of Networks”
Mikael Rylander, Technology Leadership Officer, Nokia/Netherlands
June 8: 9:15-10:00 am

“6G: From Digital Transformation to Socio-Digital Innovation”
Dimitra Simeonidou, Director Smart Internet Lab, Co-Director Bristol Digital Futures Institute, University of Bristol, UK
June 9: 8:30-9:15 am

“Going Beyond RF: Nano Communication in 6G+ Networks”
Falko Dressler, Professor, Technische Universität, Berlin
June 9: 9:15-10:00 am

For the curious, CEA-Leti, the organizing institution, is “a research institute for electronics and information technologies, based in Grenoble, France. It is one of the world’s largest organizations for applied research in microelectronics and nanotechnology.” (See the entire description in the CEA-Leti: Laboratoire d’l’électronique des technologies de l’information Wikipedia entry)

As for the ‘internet of senses’, perhaps I missed seeing it in the programme?

The co-chairs Pearse O’Donohue and Sébastien Dauvé offer a welcome on the 2022 conference/summit homepage that touches on current affairs, as well as, the technology,

We would like to welcome you to this edition of the conference, which is for the second time putting together two of the top European conferences in the area of communication networks: the European Conference on Networks and Communications (EuCNC) and the 6G Summit. After two years of restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are delighted to host this hybrid conference in the city of Grenoble, located in the French Alps and recognised internationally for its scientific excellence, especially in the area of electronics components and systems. This is a testimony of the increased importance of microelectronics for European technological sovereignty and cybersecurity in 5G and 6G, in line with the European Chips Act recently proposed by the Commission.

The Russian war against Ukraine has disrupted the lives of millions of Ukrainians. Recognising the importance of connectivity, in particular in times of crisis and under these exceptional circumstances, the EU in cooperation with key stakeholders has taken measures to alleviate the consequences of the humanitarian crisis. These include resilience of networks within the country, free or heavily discounted international calls and SMS to Ukraine or free roaming to Ukrainian people that fled the war.

In the longer term, we need to make sure that trust, security and competitiveness of future technologies such as beyond 5G and 6G are ensured.

6G systems are expected to offer a new step change in performance from Gigabit towards Terabit capacities and sub-millisecond response times. This will enable new critical applications such as real-time automation or extended reality (“Internet of Senses”) sensing, collecting and providing the data for nothing less than a digital twin of the physical world.

Moreover, new smart network technologies and architectures will need to drastically enhance the energy efficiency of connectivity infrastructures to manage major traffic growth while keeping electromagnetic fields under strict safety limits. These technologies will form the basis for a human-centric Next-Generation Internet and address Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as accessibility and affordability of technology.

This year is an important milestone in the European research, development and innovation sphere towards 6G communications systems as it has seen the kick-off of the activities of the European partnership on Smart Networks and Services (SNS). This strategic public-private partnership has been established in November 2021 as one of the Horizon Europe Joint undertakings. The SNS partnership should enable European players to develop the technology capacities for 6G systems as basis for future digital services towards 2030. Its focus extends beyond networking, spanning the whole value chain, from components and devices to the Cloud, AI and Cybersecurity.

In January 2022, the first SNS JU [Joint Undertaking] calls for proposals has been launched, with a total budget of EUR 240 million. It sets out main complementary work streams spanning from 5G Evolution systems, research for radical technology advancement in preparation for 6G, proof of concepts including experimental infrastructures; up to large scale trials and pilots with vertical industries. We are excited and cannot wait for the selected projects to be launched next autumn, thus joining the big family of the EU projects that you will be able to discover and liaise with during this conference.

Karl Bode’s June 2, 2022 article, “6G Hype Begins Despite Fact 5G Hasn’t Finished Disappointing Us Yet,” on Techdirt offers a more measured response to the 6G hopes and dreams offered by O’Donohue, Dauvé, and the others hyping the next technology that will solve all kinds of problems.

Robots in Vancouver and in Canada (one of two)

This piece just started growing. It started with robot ethics, moved on to sexbots and news of an upcoming Canadian robotics roadmap. Then, it became a two-part posting with the robotics strategy (roadmap) moving to part two along with robots and popular culture and a further  exploration of robot and AI ethics issues..

What is a robot?

There are lots of robots, some are macroscale and others are at the micro and nanoscales (see my Sept. 22, 2017 posting for the latest nanobot). Here’s a definition from the Robot Wikipedia entry that covers all the scales. (Note: Links have been removed),

A robot is a machine—especially one programmable by a computer— capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically.[2] Robots can be guided by an external control device or the control may be embedded within. Robots may be constructed to take on human form but most robots are machines designed to perform a task with no regard to how they look.

Robots can be autonomous or semi-autonomous and range from humanoids such as Honda’s Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility (ASIMO) and TOSY’s TOSY Ping Pong Playing Robot (TOPIO) to industrial robots, medical operating robots, patient assist robots, dog therapy robots, collectively programmed swarm robots, UAV drones such as General Atomics MQ-1 Predator, and even microscopic nano robots. [emphasis mine] By mimicking a lifelike appearance or automating movements, a robot may convey a sense of intelligence or thought of its own.

We may think we’ve invented robots but the idea has been around for a very long time (from the Robot Wikipedia entry; Note: Links have been removed),

Many ancient mythologies, and most modern religions include artificial people, such as the mechanical servants built by the Greek god Hephaestus[18] (Vulcan to the Romans), the clay golems of Jewish legend and clay giants of Norse legend, and Galatea, the mythical statue of Pygmalion that came to life. Since circa 400 BC, myths of Crete include Talos, a man of bronze who guarded the Cretan island of Europa from pirates.

In ancient Greece, the Greek engineer Ctesibius (c. 270 BC) “applied a knowledge of pneumatics and hydraulics to produce the first organ and water clocks with moving figures.”[19][20] In the 4th century BC, the Greek mathematician Archytas of Tarentum postulated a mechanical steam-operated bird he called “The Pigeon”. Hero of Alexandria (10–70 AD), a Greek mathematician and inventor, created numerous user-configurable automated devices, and described machines powered by air pressure, steam and water.[21]

The 11th century Lokapannatti tells of how the Buddha’s relics were protected by mechanical robots (bhuta vahana yanta), from the kingdom of Roma visaya (Rome); until they were disarmed by King Ashoka. [22] [23]

In ancient China, the 3rd century text of the Lie Zi describes an account of humanoid automata, involving a much earlier encounter between Chinese emperor King Mu of Zhou and a mechanical engineer known as Yan Shi, an ‘artificer’. Yan Shi proudly presented the king with a life-size, human-shaped figure of his mechanical ‘handiwork’ made of leather, wood, and artificial organs.[14] There are also accounts of flying automata in the Han Fei Zi and other texts, which attributes the 5th century BC Mohist philosopher Mozi and his contemporary Lu Ban with the invention of artificial wooden birds (ma yuan) that could successfully fly.[17] In 1066, the Chinese inventor Su Song built a water clock in the form of a tower which featured mechanical figurines which chimed the hours.

The beginning of automata is associated with the invention of early Su Song’s astronomical clock tower featured mechanical figurines that chimed the hours.[24][25][26] His mechanism had a programmable drum machine with pegs (cams) that bumped into little levers that operated percussion instruments. The drummer could be made to play different rhythms and different drum patterns by moving the pegs to different locations.[26]

In Renaissance Italy, Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) sketched plans for a humanoid robot around 1495. Da Vinci’s notebooks, rediscovered in the 1950s, contained detailed drawings of a mechanical knight now known as Leonardo’s robot, able to sit up, wave its arms and move its head and jaw.[28] The design was probably based on anatomical research recorded in his Vitruvian Man. It is not known whether he attempted to build it.

In Japan, complex animal and human automata were built between the 17th to 19th centuries, with many described in the 18th century Karakuri zui (Illustrated Machinery, 1796). One such automaton was the karakuri ningyō, a mechanized puppet.[29] Different variations of the karakuri existed: the Butai karakuri, which were used in theatre, the Zashiki karakuri, which were small and used in homes, and the Dashi karakuri which were used in religious festivals, where the puppets were used to perform reenactments of traditional myths and legends.

The term robot was coined by a Czech writer (from the Robot Wikipedia entry; Note: Links have been removed)

‘Robot’ was first applied as a term for artificial automata in a 1920 play R.U.R. by the Czech writer, Karel Čapek. However, Josef Čapek was named by his brother Karel as the true inventor of the term robot.[6][7] The word ‘robot’ itself was not new, having been in Slavic language as robota (forced laborer), a term which classified those peasants obligated to compulsory service under the feudal system widespread in 19th century Europe (see: Robot Patent).[37][38] Čapek’s fictional story postulated the technological creation of artificial human bodies without souls, and the old theme of the feudal robota class eloquently fit the imagination of a new class of manufactured, artificial workers.

I’m particularly fascinated by how long humans have been imagining and creating robots.

Robot ethics in Vancouver

The Westender, has run what I believe is the first article by a local (Vancouver, Canada) mainstream media outlet on the topic of robots and ethics. Tessa Vikander’s Sept. 14, 2017 article highlights two local researchers, Ajung Moon and Mark Schmidt, and a local social media company’s (Hootsuite), analytics director, Nik Pai. Vikander opens her piece with an ethical dilemma (Note: Links have been removed),

Emma is 68, in poor health and an alcoholic who has been told by her doctor to stop drinking. She lives with a care robot, which helps her with household tasks.

Unable to fix herself a drink, she asks the robot to do it for her. What should the robot do? Would the answer be different if Emma owns the robot, or if she’s borrowing it from the hospital?

This is the type of hypothetical, ethical question that Ajung Moon, director of the Open Roboethics Initiative [ORI], is trying to answer.

According to an ORI study, half of respondents said ownership should make a difference, and half said it shouldn’t. With society so torn on the question, Moon is trying to figure out how engineers should be programming this type of robot.

A Vancouver resident, Moon is dedicating her life to helping those in the decision-chair make the right choice. The question of the care robot is but one ethical dilemma in the quickly advancing world of artificial intelligence.

At the most sensationalist end of the scale, one form of AI that’s recently made headlines is the sex robot, which has a human-like appearance. A report from the Foundation for Responsible Robotics says that intimacy with sex robots could lead to greater social isolation [emphasis mine] because they desensitize people to the empathy learned through human interaction and mutually consenting relationships.

I’ll get back to the impact that robots might have on us in part two but first,

Sexbots, could they kill?

For more about sexbots in general, Alessandra Maldonado wrote an Aug. 10, 2017 article for salon.com about them (Note: A link has been removed),

Artificial intelligence has given people the ability to have conversations with machines like never before, such as speaking to Amazon’s personal assistant Alexa or asking Siri for directions on your iPhone. But now, one company has widened the scope of what it means to connect with a technological device and created a whole new breed of A.I. — specifically for sex-bots.

Abyss Creations has been in the business of making hyperrealistic dolls for 20 years, and by the end of 2017, they’ll unveil their newest product, an anatomically correct robotic sex toy. Matt McMullen, the company’s founder and CEO, explains the goal of sex robots is companionship, not only a physical partnership. “Imagine if you were completely lonely and you just wanted someone to talk to, and yes, someone to be intimate with,” he said in a video depicting the sculpting process of the dolls. “What is so wrong with that? It doesn’t hurt anybody.”

Maldonado also embedded this video into her piece,

A friend of mine described it as creepy. Specifically we were discussing why someone would want to programme ‘insecurity’ as a  desirable trait in a sexbot.

Marc Beaulieu’s concept of a desirable trait in a sexbot is one that won’t kill him according to his Sept. 25, 2017 article on Canadian Broadcasting News (CBC) online (Note: Links have been removed),

Harmony has a charming Scottish lilt, albeit a bit staccato and canny. Her eyes dart around the room, her chin dips as her eyebrows raise in coquettish fashion. Her face manages expressions that are impressively lifelike. That face comes in 31 different shapes and 5 skin tones, with or without freckles and it sticks to her cyber-skull with magnets. Just peel it off and switch it out at will. In fact, you can choose Harmony’s eye colour, body shape (in great detail) and change her hair too. Harmony, of course, is a sex bot. A very advanced one. How advanced is she? Well, if you have $12,332 CAD to put towards a talkative new home appliance, REALBOTIX says you could be having a “conversation” and relations with her come January. Happy New Year.

Caveat emptor though: one novel bonus feature you might also get with Harmony is her ability to eventually murder you in your sleep. And not because she wants to.

Dr Nick Patterson, faculty of Science Engineering and Built Technology at Deakin University in Australia is lending his voice to a slew of others warning us to slow down and be cautious as we steadily approach Westworldian levels of human verisimilitude with AI tech. Surprisingly, Patterson didn’t regurgitate the narrative we recognize from the popular sci-fi (increasingly non-fi actually) trope of a dystopian society’s futile resistance to a robocalypse. He doesn’t think Harmony will want to kill you. He thinks she’ll be hacked by a code savvy ne’er-do-well who’ll want to snuff you out instead. …

Embedded in Beaulieu’s article is another video of the same sexbot profiled earlier. Her programmer seems to have learned a thing or two (he no longer inputs any traits as you’re watching),

I guess you could get one for Christmas this year if you’re willing to wait for an early 2018 delivery and aren’t worried about hackers turning your sexbot into a killer. While the killer aspect might seem farfetched, it turns out it’s not the only sexbot/hacker issue.

Sexbots as spies

This Oct. 5, 2017 story by Karl Bode for Techdirt points out that sex toys that are ‘smart’ can easily be hacked for any reason including some mischief (Note: Links have been removed),

One “smart dildo” manufacturer was recently forced to shell out $3.75 million after it was caught collecting, err, “usage habits” of the company’s customers. According to the lawsuit, Standard Innovation’s We-Vibe vibrator collected sensitive data about customer usage, including “selected vibration settings,” the device’s battery life, and even the vibrator’s “temperature.” At no point did the company apparently think it was a good idea to clearly inform users of this data collection.

But security is also lacking elsewhere in the world of internet-connected sex toys. Alex Lomas of Pentest Partners recently took a look at the security in many internet-connected sex toys, and walked away arguably unimpressed. Using a Bluetooth “dongle” and antenna, Lomas drove around Berlin looking for openly accessible sex toys (he calls it “screwdriving,” in a riff off of wardriving). He subsequently found it’s relatively trivial to discover and hijack everything from vibrators to smart butt plugs — thanks to the way Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connectivity works:

“The only protection you have is that BLE devices will generally only pair with one device at a time, but range is limited and if the user walks out of range of their smartphone or the phone battery dies, the adult toy will become available for others to connect to without any authentication. I should say at this point that this is purely passive reconnaissance based on the BLE advertisements the device sends out – attempting to connect to the device and actually control it without consent is not something I or you should do. But now one could drive the Hush’s motor to full speed, and as long as the attacker remains connected over BLE and not the victim, there is no way they can stop the vibrations.”

Does that make you think twice about a sexbot?

Robots and artificial intelligence

Getting back to the Vikander article (Sept. 14, 2017), Moon or Vikander or both seem to have conflated artificial intelligence with robots in this section of the article,

As for the building blocks that have thrust these questions [care robot quandary mentioned earlier] into the spotlight, Moon explains that AI in its basic form is when a machine uses data sets or an algorithm to make a decision.

“It’s essentially a piece of output that either affects your decision, or replaces a particular decision, or supports you in making a decision.” With AI, we are delegating decision-making skills or thinking to a machine, she says.

Although we’re not currently surrounded by walking, talking, independently thinking robots, the use of AI [emphasis mine] in our daily lives has become widespread.

For Vikander, the conflation may have been due to concerns about maintaining her word count and for Moon, it may have been one of convenience or a consequence of how the jargon is evolving with ‘robot’ meaning a machine specifically or, sometimes, a machine with AI or AI only.

To be precise, not all robots have AI and not all AI is found in robots. It’s a distinction that may be more important for people developing robots and/or AI but it also seems to make a difference where funding is concerned. In a March 24, 2017 posting about the 2017 Canadian federal budget I noticed this,

… The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research will receive $93.7 million [emphasis mine] to “launch a Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy … (to) position Canada as a world-leading destination for companies seeking to invest in artificial intelligence and innovation.”

This brings me to a recent set of meetings held in Vancouver to devise a Canadian robotics roadmap, which suggests the robotics folks feel they need specific representation and funding.

See: part two for the rest.