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Scientists Try To Make Robots More Human 88 88

mikesd81 writes "The Associated Press has an article about a robot named George that plays hide-and-seek. Impressively, the robot can actually also find a place to hide, and then hunt for its human playmate. Scientists are calling this 'a new level of human interaction'. The machine must take cues from people and behave accordingly. Researchers aim to imply humanity in robotics by creating technology that can connect with humans in a more 'thoughtful' way. The places to first see this technology are in the most human-oriented fields — those that require special care in dealing with the elderly, young and disabled." From the article: "'Robots in the human environment, to me that's the final frontier,' said Cynthia Breazeal, robotic life group director at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 'The human environment is as complex as it gets; it pushes the envelope.' Robotics is moving from software and gears operating remotely - Mars, the bottom of the ocean or assembly lines - to finally working with, beside and even on people. 'Robots have to understand people as people,' Breazeal said. 'Right now, the average robot understands people like a chair: It's something to go around.'"
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Scientists Try To Make Robots More Human

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  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jazman_777 (44742) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @03:47PM (#16966346) Homepage
    The places to first see this technology are in the most human-oriented fields those that require special care in dealing with the elderly, young and disabled."


    Yup, instead of having humans take care of people, we need robots to do it "with a human touch." How much dehumanized can we get? ( A _lot_ more, I know.)

  • by Karganeth (1017580) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @03:53PM (#16966380)
    Come on. How useful is this thing ever going to be? The idea of making robots more human is ridiculous. Why? Because robots will never be better than humans at being human. And it's not as though there is any shortage of humans, there's over 6 billion of us. Why create inferior copies of ourselves? How about making robots do something USEFUL that humans have a hard time doing? Then I might just applaud their work.
  • by x1n933k (966581) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @05:50PM (#16967472) Homepage
    I would disagree. Customer service here in North America is on a huge decline (base on my own experience, not a study). Why pay someone min wage plus a commission who is going to look like they hate me and the world when I can skip the fake,'Oh hey, how are you today. Did you find what you were looking for' in a department store when I can just use a screen. When I want a human experience, I dont look or want it while buying clothes. Food, maybe--but you get the idea.

    Not so say it isn't up lifting when you have good people doing good work. There just isn't enough of them out them.

    [J]

  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Thomas Shaddack (709926) on Friday November 24, 2006 @12:18AM (#16970520)
    People were more concerned about whether it could be done than whether it should be done.

    There is the issue of the changing demographics. With increasing number of elderly and decreasing number of work-capable population, finding a quality caregiver will become increasingly difficult and expensive. The question therefore stays not if it should be done, but if we can afford it to NOT be done.

    Caregiving is a difficult job, and burn-out is easier to handle when it happens to a robot than to a nurse. Besides, there's the issue of emotional attachment to robots, which was already demonstrated in the case of elderly getting their own Aibo robodogs in some experiment I don't exactly remember (but I think it was in Japan).

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it. -- Perlis's Programming Proverb #58, SIGPLAN Notices, Sept. 1982

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