Magic of Science and Smart Technologies. “Open University” Took Place for the Third Time

“Open University” Festival took place in St. Petersburg this weekend. Representatives of leading universities discussed topical scientific issues connected with development of the city and dwelling in it. Professors from ITMO University, Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, and European University at St. Petersburg, exchanged views on biotechnological and robotic novelties that seemed like magic.

Artificial intelligence (AI) systems and robots that can successfully take Turing test are considered by academic community as technologies of the future. However currently there are a lot of mechanisms based on intelligent control.

According to Alexey Bobtsov, dean of Department of Computer Technologies and Control Systems, intelligent control means that someone makes a machine work independently by pushing a button. For example, a washing machine works in a similar way because a wash regime regulates its working. Roboteers aspire to design more complicated intelligent control mechanisms.

“Modern Scientists have a lot of open questions,” said Mr. Bobtsov. “Thus even if a robot works fast he also has to move accurately. Present programs cannot work fast and accurate at the same time. Robotics engineers focus on this problem trying to make systems universal widening their application. It is very profitable. For example, if to standardize robotic prostheses it will be easier to sell them wholesale. Thus their price will be more reasonable.”

Apart from universality robotics specialists also aspire to make systems adaptive and self-regulating. For example, in future cars will change quality of petrol so as to make it appropriate to optimal engine`s work.

“Just imagine that coming to university you find out that you have forgotten your summary. So using your smart phone  you make  a quadrocopter bring your papers.”

Turning a fairytale into reality is impossible because of some technical reasons. Thus the more difficult intelligent control system is the more complicated code should be analyzed. It usually leads to lags and errors. That is why it is very important to design effective codes.

Aleksey Borovkov, head of  Institute of Advanced Manufacturing of St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, commented on bionic systems replicating patterns found in nature. The expert noted that finding inspiration in nature is very reasonable. For example, a streamlined shape of bird`s beak can be used as an archetype of train`s nose.

“Comparing technologies with systems found in nature is an extra marketing advantage,” underlined Mr. Borovkov. “It is easier for investors who are not versed in complicated math to understand how it should looks like. Moreover, if a product is lighter and more ergonomic it will attract investors.”

However there are some things that are not exist in nature. For example, invisibility. That is why this idea is widely used in science fiction and movies about the future. In spite of the fact that some animals change their color melding into the landscape one cannot declare that something or someone is invisible.

It is well known that we don`t see subjects we just see reflected light waves. According to Mikhail Odit, International Research Center for Nanophotonics and Metamaterials` engineer, the only thing to be done for making something invisible is to stop waves` reflection and shade.

“Thus waves will go through objects without distortion and refraction,” said Mr. Odit. “All materials that exist in nature have no these characteristics. That is why we should use new materials invented in XXI century, I mean so called metamaterials."

Tricking with waves can be very useful for mankind. For instance, a cover consisted of metamaterials can protect buildings from seismic waves.

“Currently scientists cannot make a human invisible,” said Egor Gurvitz, the president of the ITMO University OSC, engineer of International Institute “Photonics and Optical Information Technology. “However it is possible to remove a color from field of vision by excluding some wavelength.”

Participants of a two-day Festival also discussed Smart city concepts, argued about who had really build St. Petersburg as well as changed their views on cancer and traffic jams trying to decide which problem was more complicated. 

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