It turns out that the Terminator series may have been an accurate prediction of our future. The only thing missing is a stereotypical, diabolical Russian accent.
While both robots will ultimately help maintain and repair orbiting spacecraft, the two countries have a slight difference of opinion on what skills are most important to teach each robot.
Russia is teaching Fedor how to shoot weapons.
In some ways, this news shouldn’t be surprising. Russia is always in the news with some scheme that sounds like a James Bond plot. Given how they drive over there, it’s only natural that they would want the robot to be prepared for chaos.
Keep in mind, I’d be saying the same thing if it was America or virtually any other country, except for maybe New Zealand. That country has enough to worry about being so close to Australia and its ecosystem of doom.
You might be wondering why a space bound robot needs to know how to shoot a pistol. Are they going to teach it to murder from above or one-shot aliens should the inevitable invasion start?
A Little History
The space robot is being developed by the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects. The main goal of this project is to design a platform to allow cosmonauts to work in space without being physically present.
The robot, which looks like a human, can perform a variety of tasks either on its own or through VR remote control. Cosmonauts on the space station will be able to take direct control using the robot’s vision to relay important feedback to perform projects.
They hope to protect cosmonauts from the dangers of space such as prolonged exposure to radiation, loose debris, and aliens. You know aliens are possible.
All of this work is very important but it doesn’t tell us why the robot needs to know how to shoot a gun. You might think it’s just a stereotypical Russian plot to take over the world, signed and endorsed by Vladimir Putin himself.
While this would be an exciting possibility, the truth is even more exciting. Provided, of course, you are a space loving nerd like myself.
A New Way To Learn For A Robot
The act of holding and operating a pistol is a extremely complex task for robots. For humans, we have to develop our motor skills to be able to hold and use a gun. Years of constant and dedicated practice are required to master the task.
Robots simply can’t be programmed to do this task. They can be programmed to do it in a very specific way, like automated manufacturing robots are, but the mission requirements of a robot going to space are different.
It needs to learn how to adapt to new situations. It needs the mechanical muscles to do new tasks it wasn’t programmed to tackle.
It needs to be smart in the truest sense of the word. It will be intelligent, just like any device that belongs to the Internet of Things, but in a way that goes beyond smart refrigerators and clothing.
Teaching a robot how to use a pistol is meant to develop and test certain skills that might not even be relevant to shooting a weapon.
It’s a sign that we’re finally reaching a point where machine learning and platform development is pulling from human experience. If we can teach machines how we teach humans, and they can learn in a similar fashion, we can begin to achieve certain results of that would be impossible through hard coding the skills via programming code.
Learning In The Future
Time will tell whether this form of artificial learning will be effective enough to replace how we construct and program technology like robots. This could just be an interesting exercise ultimately doomed to fail.
It could also be a sign of things to come. Perhaps it’ll be another step towards having machines that learn in a way that humans understand and comprehend. This would allow us to create a different development process that is more in tune with our experience.
Or it really could be a secret plot from Russia to take over the world. If that’s the case, then let me go on record by saying that I eagerly await the arrival of our future Russian robotic overlords.
Welcome to the future!