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Scientists Try To Make Robots More Human 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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  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @03:40PM (#16966296)
    Why can't robots being more feminine?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by TitusC3v5 ( 608284 )
      That model is already on the market, actually...they're called wives.
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @04:11PM (#16966480) Journal
      Why can't robots being more feminine?

      Even regular men can't figure out women. What makes you think a bunch of geeks in labcoats who never date can?
      • Dude, I have the modpoints and this could be modded insightful, but that would just be plain sad!
        • by Poltras ( 680608 )
          Truth is sad.

          I don't understand how this could be news... Politicians have been known for trying to make humans more robots for years.

      • Geeks building robots to replace women wuold build the ideal women.
        The fact that you use the term 'date' tells me you don't relize what we're talking abuot.

        A robot that can nearly beat you at any game, give you oral pleasure, clean the house, never change the way they look, and the looks would be completly changeable.

        Which will come as a shock to women when they relize that:
        a) a lot of men don't mind a little weight on a women
        b) this means it's there attitude that kept men away, NOT there weight.

        Man, if I d
    • Well, I can just imagine the complications. Keep in mind this is from a male perspective.

      You: Oh Dot Matrix, you give great helmet.
      Dot Matrix: Don't bust that nut just yet! I will regain activity in two minutes after a firmware upgrade.

    • Probably for the same reason that I am saddened by the grammatical structure of your sentence. I place unreasonably high expectations on the grammatical prowess of others. Of course, now that I've said that, there will undoubtedly be some other grammar Nazi pointing out each grammatical error in my post. Such is the way things are.
    • Because then they'd need a volume control knob []. NOT SFW.
  • by saikou ( 211301 ) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @03:41PM (#16966310) Homepage
    Do we really want "hunting robots"? :)
    100% success rate in hide and seek today -- 100% kill rate tomorrow!

    Robots will kill you :)
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )
      100% success rate in hide and seek today -- 100% kill rate tomorrow! Robots will kill you

      I for one welcome our George Carlin prophecy metalic overloards.
    • It's ok -- I have robot insurance!

      For when the metal ones come for you.. and they will.
    • by CODiNE ( 27417 )
      Don't forget self-hiding bugs and cameras. Wheee Minority Report!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by IgLou ( 732042 )
      I know! Fighting off the inevitable robot revolution would be so much easier if they don't know how to hide. In fact, they should announce their presence at regular intervals!

      Unit 6: "It is time to open fire on the human infidels."
      Unit 7: "Wait first we must turn on our transponders."
      Unit 6: "But won't that make it easier for them to target us"
      Unit 7: "Illogical, we must follow our programming!"
      Unit 6: "No, really this sounds a bit suicidal..."
      Sound of much robot destruction.
    • Yeah, I thought for a second that I was the only person who thought "Predator" when I read that.
    • Yes, but many robots have a pre-programmed kill limit. Just send wave after wave of men to battle them, and eventually you'll win and be awarded a medal.
    • by Oranse ( 1018452 )
      It strikes me odd that we all are laughing about how robots will kill us all with every news of development, and still we strive to accelerate the development. After 30 years or so, will we be laughing about how stupid we were?
  • 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.)

    • We're all robots, we're just presently the more advanced model, trying to degign and create an even more advanced model that will obsolete us. Clever eh?
      • by foobsr ( 693224 )
        trying to design and create an even more advanced model

        So the creationist are right, aren't they? </sarcasm> More seriously, the real fun only starts when unforeseen emergent properties insidiously creep in and suddenly erupt - a theme of many SF-stories, for instance.

        • So the creationist are right, aren't they?
          Of course. Ever played Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis? One of the endings had Indy turn into a god. Imagine he destroys the Universe and creates a new one, where someone, sometime, will be able to turn into a god... and the cycle restarts.
          • by foobsr ( 693224 )
            Nope, I stopped gaming in the Leisure Suit Larry [] 3 days :)

            I however admit that I can imagine a hyper-meta-ctl-alt-shift-Simulacron 3 [] in which our universe is the simulation :)

      • We're a bad copy of God trying to make a bad copy of ourselves.

    • by foobsr ( 693224 )
      How much dehumanized can we get? ( A _lot_ more, I know.)

      I guess the word that you were looking for is "superfluous" ;)

      And I wonder how long Sherry Turkle -- "Her point is that when you are sick, hurt, or elderly, "you really do want a person," not a robot." will stay director.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dcam ( 615646 )
      Actually I know someone who was looking into this exact issue a while ago.

      The question was whether robots should be used in aged care. This was for Japan, which is a world leader in robots. She went to a conference with a whole lot of techies (she was, I think, a psychologist), basically asking the question whether they should do this. This is a particular issue in Japan where respect for elders a and parents is a major issue. She was a little shocked to find that the question wasn't actually being addresse
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        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

    • I can understand that it would be dehumanizing when it comes to kids, but I'm suprised no one pointed out one of the obvious, more "human" benefits of robots working with the elderly. It helps them retain dignity and a sense of pride / self sufficiency. They don't have to feel like they have to be asking a human for help all the time. Also, with the more... incapable ones... they also don't have to feel demeaned by such things as having a human bathe them, etc. once the technology gets to a higher level.
  • 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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by x1n933k ( 966581 )
      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 yo

    • by Oronar ( 942125 )
      Space exploration.
      It's not practical to send humans on a long journey to figure out what the probe couldn't. The more human like robots can think, the better. It can play hide and seek, which means it's a great leap in the ability of robots to analyze their enviornment and act accordingly.
    • by DrEasy ( 559739 )
      But a big majority of humans behaves like robots...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Researchers aim to imply humanity in robotics by creating technology that can connect with humans in a more 'thoughtful' way.

    Translation: We're working on making a sex-bot.
    • by dan828 ( 753380 )
      Yeah, to heck with hide-and-seek playing robots, it's hide-the-salami playing 'bots that the slashdot crowd wants.
    • by bcdm ( 1031268 )
      And on the other side of the coin (FTA):
      And there's a cute penguin robot, Mel, that makes eye contact with people and nods when they talk.
      Men have now been officially made redundant.
    • Ever since the '50s (Turing et al), the big AI/robots goal has been to replicate human behaviour. Perhaps this is an unrealistic goal for now. Perhaps a more realistic goal is to try replicate the behaviour of a fly or other insect.

      Last night I spent 5 minutes trying to kill a fly with a flyswat. That little sucker sure had good self-preservation instincts (better than any robot playing hide and seek). And the fly can find food, breed etc.

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Last night I spent 5 minutes trying to kill a fly with a flyswat. That little sucker sure had good self-preservation instincts...

        Try catching the fly in a transparent container.

        Flies have much faster reflexes than humans so it's going to be hard to win that way. Maybe flies don't understand transparency or maybe they haven't evolved reflexes to deal with transparent containers (in contrast to things like animal tails) or maybe their eyes aren't good enough to detect transparent materials. Either way, as lo

  • by DevelopersDevelopers ( 1027018 ) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @03:57PM (#16966402)
    Robots that track us down? Well, at least the world's scientists have been smart enough to not attach machine guns to their heads [] and make them enjoy the taste of human flesh []
    Oh, damnit...
  • by ilotgov ( 637717 ) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @04:04PM (#16966432)
    Finally after trying for more than a century to make humans more robot like we seem to do it the right way around.
  • "I didn't know Mr. Crank was in the washing machine, honest, Lena."
  • by 88NoSoup4U88 ( 721233 ) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @04:09PM (#16966464)
    I once seen a (dutch) documentary in which researchers handed over some Aibo-dogs to elderly people:

    Whereas I thought they would immedeately reject it (scary technology and such) I was amazed that not only did they accept it, they also embraced it because of its multiple functions an 'ordinary' pet couldn't offer.
    For one, it didn't need any care that one, once forgetting starts to be a daily part of life, tends to forget (hell, some even forget feeding themselves once dementia has been set in).
    Also, whereas normal pets could be too exhausting, the Aibo with its 'react-to-impulses-from-the-owner'-mechanism, was much easier to comprehend and adjust to.
    It was endearing to see how some of them used the doggy to attract other people's attention in the elderly home, who normally they would have shyed away from talking too; But once the curiousity broke the formality-barrier, they would be socialising very quickly with them. I was amazed how some of them really started treating them as real pets (calling it names, talking to it as if it really understood them), and were shattered when, at the end of the research, they were taken away from them.

    I really -do- think there is an opportunity here, where we could start some more research in this area as to start to make the last stages of life more enjoyable for the less fortunate... Hell, we should be donating Wii's to kids [] -and- elderly homes ;).
    • Lol, screwed up the subject: Taibo and old people somehow gets me these horrid images of Billy Blanks (or whatever the dude's name was) practising some of his Tai-Bo (or Tae Bo) in his cheap-ass videos.

      Should be Aibo of course :)
    • Slashdotter relizes old people aren't stupid and can actually accept new things!

  • AI is making computers behave like they do in movies.

    I read that somewhere.
  • The trouble is, scientists aren't artists. They generally don't follow any sort of asthetic principles when developing robots. Take the mighty steam shovel for example. Few people know that it was intended to be the most human like robot ever built, however the 'Nanny bot 1.0' proved to be terrible at changing diapers and doing anything that didn't involve crushing people to death and using its giant arm to bury the evidance. Later on its robotic brain was removed and it was remarketed as a novelty arm wres
  • can anyone tell me how is this all different from the AI in 1970s and 80s ( SHAKEY [] etc)

    Things fell apart when researchers tried to scale beyond LEGO examples (hide and seek case in the article sounds similar). A reasonably "artificially intelligent" robot would exhibit "intelligence" using components which are themselves tough unsolved problems

    • Learning
    • Planning
    • KnowledgeBase/Knowledge Representation

    Grow up ppl...a simple electro-mechincal piece of hardware layered with cute-teddy-bear-look and all abo

  • I hope no robot understands me like a chair - I don't want any robots sitting on me :-)
  • "You still don't get it, do you? He'll find her. That's what he does. That's all he does! You can't stop him. He'll wade through you, reach down her throat, and pull her fucking heart out."

    - Kyle Reese in 'Terminator'
  • "Hide and Seek" is the first half of Seek and Destroy...and we've already got robots that can do the latter.
  • I for one welcome our new hide-and-seeking overlords
  • I really only care about this news topic when the headline is, "Scientists Create Inexpensive And Amazingly Lifelike Robots With Which You Can Have Insanely Great Sex."
  • "Impressively, the robot can actually also find a place to hide, and then hunt for its human playmate"
    Hunt...? HUNT? Oh my God we are going to DIE!
  • Looking at the computer face in the article freaks me out like the robochild in that episode of the Outer Limits where the scientist puts the mind of his deceased son into a little boy robot.

    Disney World's Hall of Presidents, Showbiz Pizza, Chuck E. Cheeses...will the nightmares ever end? *shudder*
  • Military tries to make humans more like robots
  • ..."Robbie []", the "I Robot []" opening story? A pity they named it George!
  • by Danzigism ( 881294 ) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @11:29PM (#16970240)
  • The Associated Press has an article about a robot named George that plays hide-and-seek.
    What was omitted from the article is that the robot has also been programmed to do this with essential script, dialogue, and plot elements from movies - both pre-existing and new.

    Oh, and his last name is "Lucas"...

  • Robots in the human environment, to me that's the final frontier
    Cynthia Breazeal or Dr Susan Calvin of US Robots and Mechanical Men Inc.
  • Hide and seek is all very well, but when are they going to teach robots to do useful things like build cars?
  • The researcher is telling George to "go hide", although there already is a "go lose yourself" in the canonical robot instruction set. This is an implementation of Nestor of the Asimov short story "Little Lost Robot" []. Modern robotics now shows the hiding functionality to be a feature and not a bug.
  • Apparently, the scientists have defined that "being more humane" is equal to "having better understanding of war tactics"
  • Why do we needs robots when the World is over populated in the 3rd world and the 1st World has so many illegal invaders?
  • If you want wide spread adoption of robots, don't make the too human and do not use terms like 'hunt' when talking about how is can interact with people, espcially children.
  • a robot named George that plays hide-and-seek. They should have name him Robbie... I guess Asimov wasnt that far off on this one.

All laws are simulations of reality. -- John C. Lilly