A Georgia Tech professor is working on teaching a robot deception. This could, naturally, be useful if/when robots are used to wage war.
Another application could be in a search and rescue operation, where a victim could be confused or scared. Telling a little white lie (e. g. "we will be out of the water in five minutes" or "help will be here before you know it") could help someone to hang on. A panicky victim may just need to hear someone -- or something -- tell them that everything's going to be all right.
Interestingly enough, the experiment was performed by getting robots to deceive fellow robots. A game of hide and seek was played, and one robot essentially misdirected another when it came to where a hidden object was.
Naturally, when the stakes are higher than a child's game, ethical considerations abound. Do we really want to create a device that can deceive, which does not give off the standard social cues we depend upon from people to determine whether they are lying? If we know that a lying person becomes uncomfortable and fidgety, taps a table top or glances over to one side, how hard is it to program a robot to not do that? Or, even more chillingly, to program a robot to exude the social cues that we associate with trust, such as looking someone in the eye?
For more information, see the September 9, 2010 issue of EurekAlert.
How do we make the decision to trust someone?
Is it the firmness of their handshake? The look in their eyes? Their smile (or lack thereof)? Something even more subtle, such as their aroma, even?
Nexi aims to help us find out.
Because humans can often, consciously or unconsciously, mirror each others' behaviors (and, if you've ever studied Neuro-Linguistic Programming, then you've been explicitly taught to do this), Nexi's gestures and expressions are controlled behind the scenes.
Researchers had people interact with Nexi in standard conversational forms, such as discussing the Celtics and the Lakers. Nexi's head and arm movemnents, its eye motions and behaviors, were then manipulated by the researchers. Researchers randomly chose half of the conversations for behaviors that are believed to signal untrustworthiness. The other half of the conversations were laced with random conversational gestures.
The people were then tested on whether they trusted Nexi by using an economic task wherein the humans were given the choice of how many tokens to exchange with Nexi and to predict how many tokens Nexi itself would provide.
The results aren't in yet but, once they are, not only will Nexi's trustworthiness be better understood, but there is the hope that Nexi can be taught the basics of understanding when humans are worthy of its trust.
Regardless of gestures, would you trust a robot like Nexi?
For more information, check out the July 5th, 2010 edition of The Boston Globe.
What is it like to be a robot?
Ask Bina48, a robotic head, and you'll be told the answer: "Well, I have never been anything else."
Profound, or just a quick answer for a machine that, despite its clever trappings, still cannot truly think for itself?
When a putatively intelligent robot is presented, inevitably the Turing Test comes up. That is, can we tell the difference between a machine's imitative behaviors and actual intelligence? If it is impossible to tell whether a machine is intelligent -- or rather whether a respondent is a machine at all -- then the test is, for all intents and purposes, passed. The machine is declared to be intelligent if its responses are not reasonably distinguishable from a human's responses. Of course the answers can differ, but the real crux of the issue is, can the interrogator tell who's the human and who's the machine?
In the case of Bina48, while it has an eerie humanlike look about it, the Turing Test grade has got to be an F. Bina48 answers in some seemingly random manners -- a response to an exclamation of "Cool!" is a question as to whether the interrogator means the weather or illness. Not only is the common slang completely missed, but so is the idiom -- no one catches a "cool", although we have all caught colds at one time or another.
Still, there's no denying the look and feel. Bina48's eyes open and close, and the head moves and tilts and sometimes you think you see some glimmers of independent thought.
But it continues to feel illusory. The real Bina Rothblatt undoubtedly can recognize and appropriately respond to slang. Bina48, though, is just confused by an interjection, but perhaps someday will be able to make sense of it all.
For more information, check out the July 4, 2010 issue of The New York Times.
We're packed and ready. We're heading South.
Look out, Maker Faire! Neuron Robotics is in town!
We will be tweeting from the event, of course, and using hashtag #NRMF. See you there -- but before you go, please vote for us to present at Mass Innovation in September. The competition is fierce so we are counting on your vote. Thanks!
We are very excited about going to Maker Faire!
I used to live in Providence so, for me, it's a bit of a homecoming. It'll be great to see the old town again.
And it'll be even greater to see you.
Remember, the hashtag for the event is #NRMF. See you there -- but before you go, please vote for us to present at Mass Innovation in September. The competition is hot -- we really need your vote. Thanks!
We truly appreciate your interest in what we do. And, we're interested in you!
So come on over to Maker Faire and make sure to give us your Twitter handle so that we can follow you!
If you'd like to tweet about this event, kindly use hashtag #NRMF. Thanks!
See you there -- but before you go, please vote for us to present at Mass Innovation in September. It's a thrilling race (the prize is to be able to present there), so we are counting on your vote. Thanks!
In between purchasing candy and picking up your soda, movie houses have, traditionally, offered Coming Attractions before the big show.
Our next big show is Maker Faire, so here's a little preview of what's in store:
For those of you who came to our TEDxBoston pre-adventure in July, it's the return of the Home Automation Demo! Jay Siegel's beautiful home blueprint rides again for Maker Faire.
I've been told that there may be something called a hexapod. The guys haven't told me too much about it, so I will be as surprised as everyone else. Sounds interesting.
And, finally, welcome to The Play Shop! We will have laptops and parts and you'll be able to play and build. How often do you get to be a part of the show?
Oh and one more thing -- we will have DyIOs for sale. You can pick one up right there at Maker Faire!
Come by and get the details in person! And when you tweet about the event, please use hashtag #NRMF. Thanks! See you there -- but before you go, please vote for us to present at Mass Innovation in September. The competition is something fierce so we really need your vote. Thanks!
As they say, seeing is believing.
And, even if you can't physically come to Maker Faire, you can still see us in action.
I will apparently not be live blogging, but we will be videotaping a bit (not for the entire event as we are going to be there for something like ten hours from setup to take down!) so there should be something on the site afterwards.
Make sure to use hashtag #NRMF when you tweet about the event.
Thank you for following along! See you there -- but before you go, please vote for us to present at Mass Innovation in September. The race is hot, so we need your vote. Thanks!
Maker Faire, this year, will be held at the Bank of America Skating Center at 2 Kennedy Plaza in Providence, Rhode Island, 02903.
Driving is easy. Providence is located on Route 95, a major Interstate highway.
Here is a map of the area:
View Larger Map
After getting onto Route 95 and traveling to Rhode Island, continue as follows:
- Take Exit 22A-22B-22C for RI-10 West/Providence Place toward US-6 West
- Take Exit 22A to merge onto Memorial Boulevard toward Downtown
- Turn Right at Francis Street
- Turn Left at Fountain St/Francis Street
- Continue onto Dorrance Street
- Turn Left at Washington Street
When you tweet about the event, kindly use hashtag #NRMF. See you there -- but before you go, please vote for us to present at Mass Innovation in September. The race is very close -- we really need your vote! Thanks! Continue reading
You may be asking: How does what Neuron Robotics is doing relate to me?
Most of us, when we think of robots, we immediately dig into the immense pop culture storehouses in our brains. We envision Rosie Jetson, or Data from Star Trek. Or, if we are feeling particularly sinister, we see The Terminator.
And a lot of it boils down to exactly what a robot is. Is it a machine that moves? Not necessarily. Is it a machine that measures? Not always.
Our mission might make this clearer: what if your computer could readily communicate with the outside world? What if it could communicate, by gathering data from the world and presenting it to you, via its screen?
We have figured out how to do just that, using an input-output module called the DyIO. Come to Maker Faire and see exactly how.
And, when you tweet about the event, please use hashtag #NRMF. See you there -- but before you go, please vote for us to present at Mass Innovation in September. The competition is fierce -- we definitely need your help! Thank you.
One thing about Maker Faire is that it is exhibits by all sorts of hobby enthusiasts. Among others, there are Suburban Utility Bike (it's a bike, no, it's a shopping cart, no, it's a ...), Firefly 2.0 (an artbot that skitters and flashes an LED) and wiblocks (these are educational kits, and rapid prototyping tools and crafts).
Hence our corner of Robotics is not the only field being represented. Our demonstrations are still being worked on, of course. Plus we want there to be surprises! But I am at liberty to say that you will be able to control a robot using a computer.
For that is our chief mission -- to give your computer a link to the outside world. I think we've achieved that. Come see for yourself. And when you tweet about the event -- and we hope you do -- please use hashtag #NRMF. See you there -- but before you go, please vote for us to present at Mass Innovation in September. Thanks!
We're starting to think about what to pack in our bags, as Maker Faire is in ten days.
USB cables? Check.
After that -- aside from things I know I'm bringing, such as my business cards -- it's a mystery even to me!
So I guess I'll be surprised along with everyone else. Make sure to use hashtag #NRMF when you tweet about the event. See you there -- but before you go, please vote for us to present at Mass Innovation in September: Mass Inno voting Thanks!
Well, actually, it's not.
Neuron Robotics' main mission is to create interoperability. The DyIO can be used to connect any type of computer (e. g. a Mac, a PC or even a Linux box) to not only a robot, but also to sensors and switches.
At Maker Faire, we will show you how you can use your computer with a DyIO and a few switches and sensors to solve a few little household problems.
And that's just the start.
No car? No problem.
Maker Faire is being held at the Bank of America Skating Center, located at 2 Kennedy Plaza in beautiful Providence, Rhode Island. Providence is a rather accessible city.
From Massachusetts, you can take either the Providence/Stoughton Commuter Rail or Amtrak (either the NorthEast Regional or the Acela). Schedules run about every one to two hours, and the two trains take almost the same amount of time from Boston but the Acela is more expensive.
From Connecticut, take Amtrak. You can catch the Acela from New Haven or the NorthEast Regional from Bridgeport, New London and other stops in the Nutmeg State. From New Haven, the Acela is three times the price but saves about 30 minutes on the trip in each direction.
From Long Island, take the ferry from Orient Point and then switch for Amtrak's NorthEast Regional Service at New London, Connecticut. Ferries leave every hour on the hour and you can take your car, or not, as you wish.
The Providence train station is at 100 Gaspee Street. From there, either take a cab or walk southwest on Gaspee Street. Take the first left toward Railroad Street. Turn right at Railroad Street. Take the first left to stay on Railroad Street. Continue onto Exchange Street. Turn left at Memorial Blvd. Turn right at Fulton Street. 2 Kennedy Plaza will be on the left.
See you there!
Maker Faire is the brainchild of Make Magazine. It has been around since 2006, when it was first held in San Mateo, California. The concept behind it is to "celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset."
In 2009, Maker Faire came to Providence, Rhode Island. It had already been held in San Mateo, California and Austin, Texas twice, and once at Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England. 2009 also saw Maker Faire return to San Mateo for a third stint.
The 2009 Providence iteration of Maker Faire was held at the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, Slater Mill in Pawtucket RI. Featuring hands-on workshops, building & hacking competitions, crafting, garage technology, arts and creativity for sale, and robot gymnastic demonstrations, it culminated with a Waterfire in the Creative Capital .
In 2010, Maker Faire has already been held in San Mateo for a fourth time, plus it has come to Detroit in July. In September, it will be held in New York City for the first time.
The 2010 Providence version of Maker Faire promises to be a lively affair, with several as-yet-to-be-named exhibits, and to be capped off with a Waterfire again.
Oh, and of course we are coming, too. Come and have a ball.
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