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Comment: Re:This was already done (Score 1) 108

This system works very differently, though. In a way, Watson is aiming for a more intellectual goal, a kind of evidence-based cognition. And in Watson's most useful applications, it grinds through data, and spits out possible answers and conclusions for review by humans. Robo Brain doesn't care about creating human-digestible conclusions or advice. It's translating human-speak, basically, into robot action, machine-readable results that tell bots how to physically perform certain tasks.

Comment: Re:The irony (Score 1) 108

Yeah, I've made it my mission to try to tamp down the general hysteria, when it comes to coverage of really interesting robotics projects. But I spent a solid hour writing and deleting stupid SF-fueled intros to this story. It feels like a movie—not a very good one—that's on the verge of writing itself. Like all you'd have to do is give it the wrong chunk of data culled from the internet, and it would mobilize a machine army that *only* knows how to commit atrocities.

Comment: Re:My the force-feeding be with them! (Score 1) 108

Force-feeding was a bit of a silly choice, on my part, but something about the process felt similar. It's not like they unleash Robo Brain on the internet, and let it hoover up whatever it pleases (and bully for that, given what's on the internet). They also don't let the machine filter out topics that it doesn't care for. So if we're going to anthropomorphize this system—which, of course we are, since we're a narcissistic species—it seems more like the Gluttony victim from Se7en than a willing participant.

+ - Robo Brain Project Wants To Turn the Internet into a Robotic Hivemind-> 1

Submitted by malachiorion
malachiorion (1205130) writes "Researchers are force-feeding the internet into a system called Robo Brain, to make the world's robots smarter. Weirder still: Every word in that sentence is true. Robo Brain has absorbed a billion images and 120,000 YouTube videos so far, and aims to digest 10 times that within a year, in order to create machine-readable commands for robots—how to pour coffee, for example. I spoke to one of the researchers about this ridiculously ambitious, and pretty ingenious project, which could finally make household bots viable (in about 5 years...which is still pretty great). My story for Popular Science."
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+ - Collaborative Algorithm Lets Autonomous Robots Team Up And Learn From Each Other->

Submitted by malachiorion
malachiorion (1205130) writes "Autonomous robots are about to get a lot more autonomous, thanks to an algorithm from MIT that turns teams of bots into collaborative learners. This was covered in other places, but I'm not sure why no one's digging into the real implications of this (admittedly somewhat obscure) breakthrough. The algorithm, called AMPS, lets autonomous systems quickly compare notes about what they’ve observed in their respective travels, and come up with a combined worldview. The goal, according to the algorithm's creators, is to achieve "semantic symmetry," which would allow for "lifelong learning" for robots, making them more self-sufficient, and less reliant on constantly pestering humans to explain why the more surprising aspects of the unstructured world they're operating within don't line up with what programmers have prepped them for. Here's my story for Popular Science."
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+ - Surgical Snakebots Are Real, And Heading For Humanity's Orifices-> 1

Submitted by malachiorion
malachiorion (1205130) writes "Last week marked the first use of a surgical snakebot—the Flex system, from MA-based Medrobotics—on living human beings. It wriggled down two patient's throats, to be specific, at a hospital in Belgium. That's neat, and could mean an interesting showdown-to-come between this snake-inspired robot (invented by a Carnegie Mellon roboticist), and the more widely-used da Vinci bot. But this is bigger than a business story. The next era in general surgery, which involves making a single small incision after entering the anus or vagina, instead of multiple punctures in the abdomen, might finally be feasible with this kind of bot. This is my analysis for Popular Science about why instrument-bearing snakebots wriggling into our orifices is a technology worth rooting for."
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+ - Lie Like a Lady: The Profoundly Weird, Gender-Specific Roots of the Turing Test->

Submitted by malachiorion
malachiorion (1205130) writes "Alan Turing never wrote about the Turing Test, that legendary measure of machine intelligence that was supposedly passed last weekend. He proposed something much stranger—a contest between men and machines, to see who was better at pretending to be a woman. The details of the Imitation Game aren't secret, or even hard to find, and yet no one seems to reference it. Here's my analysis for Popular Science about why they should, in part because it's so odd, but also because it might be a better test for "machines that think" than the chatbot-infested, seemingly useless Turing Test."
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+ - Robots Are Evil: The Sci-Fi Myth of Killer Machines->

Submitted by malachiorion
malachiorion (1205130) writes "Remember when, about a month ago, Stephen Hawking warned that artificial intelligence could destroy all humans? It wasn't because of some stunning breakthrough in AI or robotics research. It was because the Johnny Depp-starring Transcendence was coming out. Or, more to the point, it's because science fiction's first robots were evil, and even the most brilliant minds can't talk about modern robotics without drawing from SF creation myths. As part of my series for Popular Science on the biggest sci-fi-inspired myths of robotics, this one focuses on R.U.R, Skynet, and the ongoing impact of allowing make-believe villains to pollute our discussion of actual automated systems."
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+ - The End is A.I.: The Singularity is Sci-Fi's Faith-Based Initiative-> 1

Submitted by malachiorion
malachiorion (1205130) writes "Is machine sentience not only possible, but inevitable? Of course not. But don't tell that to devotees of the Singularity, a theory that sounds like science, but is really just science fiction repackaged as secular prophecy. I'm not simply arguing that the Singularity is stupid—people much smarter than me have covered that territory. But as part of my series of stories for Popular Science about the major myths of robotics, I try to point out the Singularity's inescapable sci-fi roots. It was popularized by a SF writer, in a paper that cites SF stories as examples of its potential impact, and, ultimately, it only makes sense when you apply copious amounts of SF handwavery. Here's why SF has trained us to believe that artificial general intelligence (and everything that follows) is our destiny, but we shouldn't confuse an end-times fantasy with anything resembling science."
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Comment: Re:My concern is far less esoteric (Score 1) 255

by malachiorion (#47052975) Attached to: The Sci-Fi Myth of Robotic Competence
I agree. I think that's a serious, serious concern, or should be. It's also proof (to me) that full autonomy is only going to work when some sort of mandate requires that all cars are robotic. Pretty Draconian, since it means making driving illegal. Until that happens, it'll be region or lane-specific autonomy, if anything.

Comment: Re:Measuring Competence (Score 1) 255

by malachiorion (#47052925) Attached to: The Sci-Fi Myth of Robotic Competence
But those Google cars are extremely coddled. 1) They're always relying on pre-loaded LIDAR data, so always on routes that Google has mapped ahead of time. It's going to take a very long time to establish a fully comprehensive, national LIDAR map, and even when it's completed, it'll have to be updated constantly. 2) They aren't driving in extreme weather conditions. 3) They're driving in a very limited radius—no one's taking them on a cross-country trip, dealing with unfamiliar and poorly marked roads. So that's 700,000 miles in a highly controlled environment. 4) And 700,000 miles is pretty skimpy, isn't it, when it comes to gauging the problems that arise with cars, and with drivers (human or otherwise)? It's not as though everyone gets into a potentially fatal accident every 500,000 miles. But when you combine all vehicles and all those drivers, and consider the total number of cars on the road, that's where the number of total collisions start to get scary. I have no doubt that robotic cars will reduce crashes, and, if they really become the rule, not the exception, will save a crazy amount of lives (and money). Still, it's not like these things are going to be creeping along at 20 mph. At 65 mph, physics can kick your ass real quick.

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