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Toyota Unveils Violin-Playing Robot 203

Posted by Zonk
from the but-can-it-play-guitar-hero dept.
eldavojohn writes "Toyota has unveiled a robot that can play the violin. From the article: 'Toyota said it planned to further advance the robot's dexterity to enable it to use tools and assist with domestic duties and nursing and medical care. The robot has 17 joints in both of its hands and arms now.' It seems there have been small — or maybe even strange, impractical — advances in robotics repeatedly with demonstrations of robots performing a specialized task. Are we merely struggling to hard code each human activity as we strive for an all purpose android? Is there a chance artificial intelligence & robotics will ever become generalized enough to make interaction interesting?"
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Toyota Unveils Violin-Playing Robot

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  • Wow, perfect sense of time on this! I can really feel the emotion, and I didn't notice any wierd moments when it got way out of time.
    • by ubergamer1337 (912210) on Friday December 07, 2007 @12:02AM (#21608127)
      Considering that I'm just wrapping up a semester of violin methods for a music ed degree, I find this achievement more impressive then building a robot to play any other instrument that I can think of because the violin requires extremely precise movements and pressure. The strings take a fair amount to force to depress, but the instrument itself is rather fragile. Also, to get an even sound out of it, the bow pressure has to constantly and smoothly changed while moving.
      • by mapkinase (958129)
        The movement changes in detache are a bit rough. No legato. No vibrato. Relatively slow piece. No changes in position (left hand).

        Way to go!

        If you do not like your neighbors in the apartment complex, that robot could be a perfect acquisition for home.

        Japanese engineering does not stop amazing me.
        • by Creepy (93888)
          Heh - and my first thought was "don't quit your day job."

          Yoda would probably say "technical achievement not master of violin make," but since he died long ago and far, far away, I should probably not think of it in Yoda-isms and stick to "wow, that's pretty impressive for a robot."

          Still, I've seen dexterous robots and am a decent cellist, so I know how far it has to go. In some ways it reminds me a bit of listening to an orchestral piece in MIDI - all the parts are there and the piece itself may be amazing
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by UbuntuDupe (970646) *
        In an attempt to prop up my own achievements (I played violin for six years), I agree :-)

        But what surprised me about the video was that, while the robot's playing was messy, it appeared to make the same errors and imprecisions that new human violin players make. I don't know if I'd be able to distinguish its playing from a seven-year-old's recital if I had to judge by ear alone.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by RealGrouchy (943109)

          I don't know if I'd be able to distinguish its playing from a seven-year-old's recital if I had to judge by ear alone.
          The recording of the seven-year-old's recital has the kid's grandmother in the background saying "isn't that sweet?", and the kid's father grumbling that he got dragged to this thing when he could be watching the game.

          - RG>
  • Very cool, but (Score:4, Insightful)

    by log1385 (1199377) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @11:50PM (#21608041)

    Robots will never be be able to match the musical abilities of some humans. There are too many tonal subtleties involved, especially on the violin.

    That is still very impressive, nonetheless.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CRCulver (715279)
      While it might be difficult to design a robot that is dexterous enough to play the violin, electronics have been outperforming humans in the tonal subtlety field for half a century. Nearly all music exploiting anything more than quarter-tones is realized using electronics.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by log1385 (1199377)
        True, but a robot ear can never be programmed to hear what a human ear hears. A robot can't really bring out the emotion in a song. (It could be very good at simulating emotion, though).
        • by c_forq (924234)
          I wouldn't say never. Psychoacoustics is a fairly young field, and the models are still being worked on and changed. Give it a little while, the models are already good and getting better every year.
        • Re:Very cool, but (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Mex (191941) on Friday December 07, 2007 @12:42AM (#21608413)
          Oh, I'm pretty sure eventually they'll figure it out. It's all just chemical reactions, man. And there's already enough music theory out there. So the rules are already (sort of) written. There's been experiments with music-making robots since the 50's. Not huge progress yet, but it will happen.

          I do believe, eventually, "creativity" will be programmable.
          • by colmore (56499)
            Creativity might be programmable in things like music that is purely an exploration of formal structure and style, or abstract graphic design, or perhaps extending the patterns within a well-established style (say contemporary housing architecture).

            However, writing a screenplay or a poem, or picking a new video game setting even is a much more complicated task, as it involves an interaction between formal artistic constraints and definions with a full human experience of the world. Getting to that point wi
            • by Mex (191941)
              "picking a new video game setting even is a much more complicated task"

              Is it, really?

              http://www.norefuge.net/vgng/vgng.html [norefuge.net] ;)
              • by colmore (56499)
                Sure, not picking one from the 4 or 5 that are currently popular, but picking one out of anything that might interest an audience.

                I guess I'm more thinking of video games circa 1990 than now, but what combination of factors makes a designer say "World War I fighter planes" or "A plumber running around in some fantasy world" or "You're the mayor of a city."

                This is the kind of thing that can be trivially and meaninglessly "simulated" by random selection of terms from a few predefined dictionaries, but that's
          • "I do believe, eventually, "creativity" will be programmable.

            I agree, creativity is just pattern creation and harmonizing frequencies of the patterns.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by FooAtWFU (699187)
          On the contrary. I contend that it is possible that, given adequate dexterity, one could construct a robot that would take a preselected song and render the music in a way which evokes the same emotional qualities from the performance that a skilled human could accomplish. In fact, there's an easy way you can do it without the robot: record a skilled human's performance into an MP3 file and play it back. :P Now, physical reproductions are a lot harder, but entirely plausible.

          I further suspect that with ade

        • why not? you're made of organic molecules that are assembled into certain structures, your brain has a certain layout and your ears transduce sound a certain way- once you emulate the transduction part and develop a good enough representation of the human brain with an AI in regard to music then you *can* program a robot eat to hear what a human's does, you can even optimize the sound if you have a great enough understanding. heck it doesn't even need to be us doing the designing! by the time that advan
        • True, but a robot ear can never be programmed to hear what a human ear hears. A robot can't really bring out the emotion in a song. (It could be very good at simulating emotion, though).

          What human ears hear differ depending on what sounds you grew up with (certain types of plasticity are believed to disappear at approx age 2). So, while a robot may have a disadvantage in not having a specific human ear (and the trained neural system connected to it), it can have the advantage of being able to simulate many of them, and thus know when what it specific to one ear or type of ear, and when it is general.

          Eivind.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by juggleme (53716)
      I agree, but it could be used to perfectly reproduce a master performance (given that instrument quality, etc. are equal, which may not be the case.) They may not be able to do it themselves, but they might be able to serve as a new sort of player piano.
      • I know they've done this with piano performances -- analyze the dynamics of an audio recording and reproduce the striking force and duration on each key. I think it was done with some Horowitz recordings a couple of years back. But imagine the complexity of doing the same thing for a violin, where so many different variables, that aren't there in a piano performance, are in play.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Derek Loev (1050412)
      Pretty much anytime a robot tries to do something a human can do we're faced with these type of comments. Ever since the first computer started to play chess (even twenty years ago they weren't much match for an average player, but look at them now)...
    • by OzRoy (602691) on Friday December 07, 2007 @12:30AM (#21608355)
      I think they probably built it to be their new customer complaints manager.

      So now when people call up to complain the robot can play a tiny violin in mock sympathy.
      • Nanotech needs to get involved somehow. That way you could guarantee that what you're hearing is the world's smallest violin, and it's playing just for you.

    • Re:Very cool, but (Score:5, Insightful)

      by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Friday December 07, 2007 @12:48AM (#21608465) Homepage Journal
      As I write this there are 3 replies to your comment modded up but none of them seem to mention that obvious (I hope) fact that programming this robot to play the violin has absolutely nothing to do with matching the musical abilities of humans. Toyota are not demonstrating a product here. They're not saying "in stores next fall: robots that can play violins". They don't think there's a huge market for violin playing robots out there that is just waiting to be tapped.

      The point of this demonstration is to show that their robot research has reached a point where they have built a robot with joints that have sufficient degrees of freedom and controllable accuracy that they can do this kind of stunt. You're supposed to look at a robot playing the violin and say "well, if it can play the violin then it can hold a power drill or other tools!"

      I'd suggest that maybe they should program the robot to put together some of the crappy furniture you get from Ikea but then people will claim it wasn't cost effective to use a billion dollar robot to do the work of a home handy man or something.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by timeOday (582209)
        Mod parent up! It's one thing to weld a door on a car but quite another to find a shirt in the dryer, iron it, undo all but the top botton, and hang it in the closet.
      • by Grishnakh (216268)
        I just hope they'll start coming out with some more practical robots soon. Roomba is a good start, but I'd like robots that did my laundry, cleaned my bathrooms, cooked meals, made the bed, etc. I don't need a violin-playing robot, but one which cleaned the bathroom every day would be great.

        What worries me is all this research into making robots that act like humans: having legs and arms, walking upright, etc. Do we really need this? As the Roomba and those automatic grass-cutting robots show, useful ro
    • by pipingguy (566974) *
      I remember, a few decades ago, playing violin in one of those school concerts for parents (luckily I was near the back of the crowd). A string popped on me but I was still able to adjust and play on the remaining 3 without too much fuss or screechy, out-of-whack noises[1]. I wasn't finging anywhere near the upper or lower ranges, so it worked. I no longer play that instrument unfortunately, it wasn't cool enough at the time.

      [1] Or at least that's what my parents told me afterwards. ;)
    • And 640K ought to be enough for any program, and a computer will never beat a man at chess...

      By 2050, a robot will read what you wrote, download violin skills and compose and play the most beautiful piece ever, better than any man, just because it can.
    • Human-developed robots will continually approach the abilities of actual living things but will never acheive it.
  • by AugustZephyr (989775) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @11:50PM (#21608047)
    I suppose this raises another question regarding the increasingly human attributes of robots. Is something that is "handmade" or "handplayed" by a robot any more or less valuable than its human equivalent? For instance: it may be very impressive that a robot can play pomp and circumstance, but once this becomes more commonplace (as strange it may seem now), does it have more/less value than a human being able to reproduce the same sequence of notes?
    • by arth1 (260657)
      The question is raises for me is:

      While driving?
    • by DoubleRing (908390) on Friday December 07, 2007 @12:43AM (#21608423)
      Well, it isn't exactly the same thing, but MIDI with good synths has been used to "perfectly" play a composition. Especially for instruments with simple timbres like drums and piano, a synth can sound very close to the real thing. Even with these ways to create a "perfect" performance, people still find a human performance impressive. It's kind of like meeting a person who can compute logarithms in their head, or find all the factors of a number without a calculator. Sure, a computer can do it--it may even do it faster, but I don't think that the fact that a machine can do something makes the feat less impressive when accomplished by a human. I'm still impressed when someone can run a marathon, even if a machine could do it just as easily, if not better. I don't see why there is so much concern that robotic performances will cheapen the value of human performances. Besides, if a programmer is able to write a program that is able to take a piece of music and interpret it beautifully, then it is still a human achievement in that a programmer was brilliant enough to decipher not only decipher the subtle psychology of what makes one performance sound emotional and powerful and the another sound mechanical, but also codify an algorithm that would imitate that interpretation. Kind of like designing a conversation bot to beat the Turing test. It's still a human accomplishment. Remember, the machine is us/ing us.
      • Besides, who wants to listen to program-created music anyway? Music is always created from the culture of the generation, and created by a person with years of life to think about what kind of music he wants to write and what he thinks people will listen to. Sure, you could data-mine the internet, but then you only have a program using second-hand data. Until computers hear, see, and understand what people do in their daily lives, nothing they can produce can be culturally significant except for being th
      • by LS (57954)
        There is more to live human music that just being impressed. With math, the result should be exactly the same every time. But with music, each live cut is different. The mood and physical state of a performer affect his playing. While the structure is the same, the overall feel of a piece can vary drastically from cut to cut and player to player. There is also the interaction and feedback with the crowd in live music. The music can change in response with the crowd, and the crowd also reads the band's
        • I agree wholeheartedly. There is something in a performance that records will never be able to match, for the existence of imperfections actually makes a work of art "better" in a way. The human component, the interactions between the actors and the audience, makes each performance unique, while a machine will do it the same each time. However, I was trying to approach the problem in an alternative way, since this argument about the "human" nature of art is so cliche (in my opinion, at least). Take thea
    • I suppose this raises another question regarding the increasingly human attributes of robots. Is something that is "handmade" or "handplayed" by a robot any more or less valuable than its human equivalent?

      Cynical answer: less, because an elite art community is the one that officially decides these things, and since robots would replace them, they feel threatened, and self-servingly answer "less".
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bronney (638318)
      Have you ever been to a life jazz quartet? Ever seen them screw up and 1 second later the facial expression on the other 3 that didn't screw up? Ever give the guitarist a genuine smile when he hit that high note round and sweet? And he gave the smile back? Then the next bar he stretches it even higher just to show you who's daddy? Live performances aren't about the music sometimes, but the performance. Much like watching a live hockey game. It isn't just about hockey.
    • by pipingguy (566974) *
      Stop questioning Al Gore's triumphs.
    • by timeOday (582209)
      The vast majority of musical performances are already automated. A CD player is a robot which continuously moves its sensor and uses what it sees to create music. We give this robot no credit, instead we see right past any number of layers of technology all the way back to the person who originally "performed" the music (even though there never was any such live performance that sounded anything like the finished product). It will always be this way. When there's a #1 hit song written by AI, we won't th
  • by Cristofori42 (1001206) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @11:56PM (#21608081)
    For the love of all that is holy why did they teach it to play that song?! I've been spending all of my years since high school band trying to erase that song from memory after playing it over and over and over for hours on end.
    • by sokoban (142301)
      pomp (pmp)
      n.
      1 Dignified or magnificent display; splendor.
      2 Vain or ostentatious display. See synonyms at display.

      circumstance (sûr'km-stns')
      n.
      Formal display; ceremony

      Seems like the perfect song for unveiling a useless vanity project such as this.

  • general purpose (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @11:56PM (#21608085) Journal

    Are we merely struggling to hard code each human activity as we strive for an all purpose android?
    Yes, playing the violin is a hard coded activity, but the important advance here is the new dexterity of this robot. It isn't so much an advance in artificial intelligence as it is an advance in mechanics.

    Is there a chance artificial intelligence & robotics will ever become generalized enough to make interaction interesting?
    Absolutely. :) I'll do it myself if no one else gets to it first.
    • by curunir (98273) *

      Yes, playing the violin is a hard coded activity, but the important advance here is the new dexterity of this robot.

      And an incremental one at that...Toyota has had a robot that plays the trumpet for quite some time now. And from what I saw at their corporate headquarters, the trumpet-playing robot is better when compared to human trumpet players than this robot is compared to human violin players.

      Though this is no doubt due to the fact that the difficult part of playing the violin is the dexterity whereas t

  • by explosivejared (1186049) <hagan.jared@NOSPAM.gmail.com> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @11:58PM (#21608105)
    They can stand back up after being kicked [slashdot.org] and now can play the violin. Anyone sane could obviously see that this completes their skill set. They'll use the sweet sounding music to lull us all to sleep, and then with their new found balance and agility put the kibosh on us all. I can feel their cold, icy hands around my throat just now! It's over man; it's over!
    • by plover (150551) *

      They'll use the sweet sounding music to lull us all to sleep

      and then they'll eat our medicines for fuel!

      Oh, man, those things are everywhere! I sure wish I could get insurance against a robot attack! But where?

  • ...it will obviously lead to better fuel economy and more reliable engines ;) Man, does Toyota have a work-on-your-own-projects day like Google?
    • While I am surprised that they built a violin-playing robot, I am not surprised by their advances in robotics. Since they probably use similar robots in all of their plants to manufacture cars with increasing precision, they would naturally develop the same knowledge to build the robot they did. Notice that the robot's real advances are not in software, but in mechanical precision -- being able to move in the very technical manner of a violinist's bow and fingers.

      If their robotic arms can play the violin
  • by Yold (473518) on Friday December 07, 2007 @12:14AM (#21608239)
    Specialized robots work better than general-purpose ones (DUH!). Creating a robot that is as capable at general tasks as a human is pointless, at least from the economic standpoint (unless you need a Terminator). Humans are cheaper than robots. Imagine the R&D and production cost involved in creating a robot as agile as the human body. Then, imagine fixing such a robot.

    Robots perform special tasks better than humans. Surgery is an obvious application, as the summary pointed out. What could be more steady than a hand with hydraulic (or whatever they use) joints. If something is able to play the Violin, it very well may be able to cut you open along a very precise line, remove a cancer/organ/ while the surgeon is sitting on his butt, operating a computer. Surgery is very tiresome from what I understand (I worked in the dept. of orthopaedics in college), and I'd imagine if this is coupled with the proper software and human interface, it would work splendidly for medical purposes.

    I'd think the Medical field would be the most interested in this tech. Surgeons could maybe even perform an extra surgery a day ($$$$$$$), and Hospitals usually have big moolah to spend on fancy-schmancy tech.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WK2 (1072560)

      Creating a robot that is as capable at general tasks as a human is pointless, at least from the economic standpoint (unless you need a Terminator). Humans are cheaper than robots.

      They are now. Calculators used to be more expensive than hiring ten people to do the job.

      Then, imagine fixing such a robot.

      Since we're talking about the distant future, I imagine the thing will eventually be able to fix himself. Or be fixed by his peers.

      • Calculators used to be more expensive than hiring ten people to do the job.

        Then, imagine fixing such a robot.

        Since we're talking about the distant future, I imagine the thing will eventually be able to fix himself. Or be fixed by his peers.


        And, eventually the thing will be able to "fix" the 10 humans doing his job less efficiently...
    • by curunir (98273) *

      Creating a robot that is as capable at general tasks as a human is pointless, at least from the economic standpoint

      Toyota's plant in Toyota City produces one automobile every minute. And they have many more plants around the world. Much of the assembly line is already automated, but there's still a lot of steps that require humans. Any advances that Toyota makes that allow them to replace humans with robots that can do a more accurate/faster job will pay for itself when you consider the increased production

    • Specialized robots work better than general-purpose ones (DUH!). Creating a robot that is as capable at general tasks as a human is pointless, at least from the economic standpoint (unless you need a Terminator).

      My Roomba does a good job of vacuuming the floor. However, it does an awful job at loading the dishwasher or changing the cat's litter box. How is that "working better"? General purpose, humanoid robots have many advantages. They can go where humans go, use tools that humans use, but they are

      • by Grishnakh (216268)
        Versatility is expensive. Your Roomba costs about $250; how much is a human-like robot worth? For the cost of one extremely complex but versatile robot, you could have an army of cheap purpose-built robots, each specializing in their own task. Human society has already proven that specialization of work produces more efficient economies.

  • by veganboyjosh (896761) on Friday December 07, 2007 @12:19AM (#21608269)
    will it stay standing if i kick it?
    • Re:yeah, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jamesh (87723) on Friday December 07, 2007 @12:42AM (#21608407)
      A soft drink machine was invented that would complain if people kicked it or tried to tilt it. So it got kicked and tilted more than any other.

      Some cars, when parked, ask people to move away if they get too close, so people deliberately get close and try and taunt it.

      A new digital media format is released, with a claim to being uncrackable, so it gets cracked very quickly.

      So logically, what happens when a robot gets invented that's sole claim to fame is that it won't fall over, even if kicked?

      And now we find that even a robot who's sole purpose is to play the violin is going to get kicked too, just to see what happens...

      I think i'll invent a line of robots who's sole purpose is to whack you over the head with a cardboard tube if you kick them or other robots over, or just generally abuse technology for your own amusement. Then i'll release version 2 which features a crowbar instead of a cardboard tube. I'll make a fortune selling them as guards for kick-overable robots, vending machines, cars, and DVD's.
      • by JanneM (7445)

        I think i'll invent a line of robots who's sole purpose is to whack you over the head with a cardboard tube if you kick them or other robots over, or just generally abuse technology for your own amusement. Then i'll release version 2 which features a crowbar instead of a cardboard tube. I'll make a fortune selling them as guards for kick-overable robots, vending machines, cars, and DVD's.

        It'll have a hard time protecting anything, being constantly mobbed by people dressed in tight leather straps, handcuffs and hoods with signs reading "Hurt me, I've been bad."

  • ..can it play a good dirge on the violin
  • It's hard enough to find *people* who are interesting. Not impossible, mind you; but there are an awful lot of dolts out there. We'll have to *surpass* the quality of humanity before we produce robots that don't fail the "intesting" QC check at unacceptable levels. It's not a total loss though. The failures might be useful as politicians, supermodels, talk-show hosts, morning DJs, etc.

  • The Flight of the Bumblebee [wikipedia.org]? Until then, I would rather see Toyota focusing on bringing back trucks like FJ80 instead of the scum infested soccer-mom mobiles they tend to produce now.
  • by RHSC (1019802)
    to play guitar hero. I'd love to see machine vs program on "Fire and the Flames"
    • There's a garage/punk band from Tucson (the weird lovemakers) who wrote a song originally called "John Henry Bonham", about the drummer in band being approached by his bandmates, and being told that he'd been replaced by a drum machine. He challenged the drum machine to a 45 minute song. He kicked the machine's ass, but then he died at the end. Good stuff.
  • "small" advances (Score:3, Insightful)

    by loonicks (807801) on Friday December 07, 2007 @12:34AM (#21608369)
    It seems there have been small -- or maybe even strange, impractical -- advances in robotics

    Welcome to the world of research. It takes a lot of work to make small advances like this one. The point of research is to solve specific, difficult problems. I'm willing to bet there were other reasons for this project.
    • by QuantumG (50515)

      I'm willing to bet there were other reasons for this project.
      Gee, ya think. I wonder how a multinational group of companies that grew out of a core competency of factory automation could possibly make use of advancing robot technology.

  • Is there a chance artificial intelligence & robotics will ever become generalized enough to make interaction interesting?

    Microsoft recently had an AI Santa Claus you could talk to over some service of theirs. It was definitely interesting.

  • Some other "robotic" violin players:

    (a) Violano-virtuoso: Video link [youtube.com] Considering it was made almost 100 years ago, isn't bad! This one used discs to rub against the strings to produce the sound. The Toyota robot uses the back and forth motion of a bow which is definitely more complex.

    (b) The violobot: Pic and Text link [blogspot.com] Video Link [google.com] Sucks!

    (c) An attempt at Penn State from 10 years ago in a research project Link [psu.edu]. Made mostly noise. Probably abandoned.

  • by presidenteloco (659168) on Friday December 07, 2007 @01:05AM (#21608591)
    it seems, with perhaps Marvin Minsky as an exception, but we need a new guard.

    Everything is understanding the nth degree of optimizing Bayesian network inference,
    usually applied to a very specific toy problem.

    Nothing wrong with that research. Not really knocking it.

    But where is the research on how a generally intelligent system could choose what to
    focus its inference-engine attention on. Where is the meta-logic about prioritization
    and pruning of "trains of thought" depending on success of search and progress
    and urgency of need to know compared to other concurrent topics.
    Where are the systems that can posit and explore multiple incrementally variant theories
    of some aspect of the world, and figure out which theory-variant is a better model of
    past and present observations. Where is the system that can take in lots of different
    peoples' writings or sayings about things and synthesize an ontology and figure out
    whose beliefs are the most promising (truthwise) and relevant.
    Where is the episodic memory?
    Where is the emotion-tagging of experiences and important generalizations,
    and the emotion-guided prioritized recall?
    Where are the short-term memory blackboards?
    Where is the "utterance" theory and theories for how to inform and motivate
    other intelligent agents into execution of a cooperative plan.
    Where is the AI just for the sheer wonder of trying to put several techniques all
    together and see what emerges?

    • Little steps, of course. When I worked in AI, I used to tell people, First we need to solve the artificial stupidity problem. That will let us do the tasks that everyone does routinely. Intelligence is rare, anyway.

      But of course, I agree with you completely. Much science has been passed by in the rush to get useful techniques out of statistical methods. Humans are all about grammar extraction and pragmatics; it's only one level of abstraction beyond where we are now, but we are being very slow in going the

    • Actually it might be a better idea to start by creating a definition of "intelligence" that everyone can agree on.
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Powers That Be don't read SF. They saw AI R&D as mostly useless because robots don't exist and (as a researcher on the field pointed out to me in 2001) "drones will never be used in real combat operations". Now robots exist, drones are a strategical tool that strategists failed to identify quickly.

      Now robots exist, they play violins but are too dumb to identify a target or even their own position in a changing environment. Now our Powers That Be realize that AI R&D may very well be the next big th
      • by AceJohnny (253840)

        They will continue to claim that even after a chess grandmaster has been beaten by a computer


        For some reason, I read that as *eaten*... ...wishful thinking.
  • The violin wasn't actually playing robot, was it?

    db

  • So is it cheating if I use one of these to break a million points on Guitar Hero?

    After that I'm going to put him to work on Heroin Hero... I WILL CATCH THAT DRAGON!
  • The thing about teaching a robot to learn is you need a metric for success and failure.

    Human's don't even know what ours is yet! (Though we have theories [wikipedia.org]).

    Assuming we want the robots purpose to be making people happy, we haven't even found a way to qualify happiness yet, let alone quantify it.

    Psychology is a quagmire, people are diffrent, and we'll need to come from both directions (Psychology and adaptive A.I.) to develop useful heuristic models for A.I.
  • Japan, as well as many other industrialized nations, will face a dire shortage of workers as their population ages rapidly amidst a very low birthrate. While North America, and to some extent, Europe, have paths laid out to take care of this problem partially with immigration, Japan is not at all immigrant-friendly. Immigration to Japan is very difficult. Crime is universally blamed on ethnic Koreans and Chinese, despite the fact that they commit less than 1% of all crimes in Japan. Other than Korea, Japan
  • "Are we merely struggling to hard code each human activity as we strive for an all purpose android? "

    No. While working towards this specific task, I'm sure they will have solved problems that exist more generally in AI/robotics. It's like when Fermat's last theorem was proved - the fact that it was proved itself was relatively insignificant, the problems solved and the maths generated along the way were of huge value to mathematics.

  • ...with 17 joints in the hand, can it be long before we have special purpose hand-job robots?
  • The quirky but quite marvelous House on the Rock, [wikipedia.org] a tourist attraction in Wisconsin with geek appeal, is a Barnum-like pseudo-museum that is genuinely awesome, crammed through of things many of which are not quite what they seem. You can't quite call them fakes because the management no longer makes explicit claims of much of anything. Among the marvels are numerous room-sized assemblages of automated musical instruments, automated the good old fashioned way a la player pianos and "orchestrions."

    There is a
  • PBS Wired did a piece of wrestling robots in Japan (GeekDad segment). These robots have arms and legs, stand, summersault, rise from falls. Its amazing what they do now.
  • This sounds like a nice engineering exercise - very small motors with adequate torque, very small angle encoders, elaborate chassis to contain it all with the right number of degrees of freedom. The interesting part is always the control software, and I can't work out from the article whether the robot is running software that can play the violin ab-initio, or playing back a sequence of moves figured out by infinite grad-student labour.

    I'd probably guess the latter - 'can it play any other piece' and 'can
  • Making noises with a violin is not necessarily "playing the violin".
  • Does it learn to play via the Suzuki method. If so, does Toyota have to pay royalties to or cross-license patents from Suzuki Company, one of their competitors in Japan?

1 1 was a race-horse, 2 2 was 1 2. When 1 1 1 1 race, 2 2 1 1 2.

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