The Human Robot.

by Bear Hunter

I watched a documentary on youtube about human-like robots, http://youtu.be/imc4xQDp_Fs.  Topics ranged from robots that can walk on two legs, display physical emotion, perform tasks to weird topics such as controlling rats with micro-chips and replacing human body parts with cybernetic components.

Apparently, much of the developments in robotics emerged from research that had been underway for over a decade in secret.  Engineers didn’t want the public to see them stumble as they tried to work out the bugs.  Especially when it came to human like robots.  Who knows what else might be under development that we know nothing about?  Imagine the projects that might have been abandoned before anyone was the wiser?

What fascinated me the most was the reality of how much time and effort engineers must put into programming robots to do the simplest tasks.  Once the robot is proficient at it’s task one simple unpredictable obstacle or inconsistency will throw the robot completely off.  The robot does’t “understand” what the task is that it’s doing or why?  It can’t put it into perspective.  Because of this engineers are trying to create robots that can learn.  One engineer even suggested that in the future robots might be paired up with human infants so they can learn about the world together.  All this so a robot can develop “common sense”.

We are creating robots so we can have someone do our work for us and not worry about them feeling bad or understanding fairness, but without the understanding they can’t do the job right.  If we give them common sense they will be more effective but they might develop their own opinions about their existence.  Either way problems seem inevitable.  How come this reminds me of the issues we’ve run into to dogs, donkeys and horses?  Can you program a robot to calm done at the sight of a sugar cube?  I don’t know.

You can watch the documentary and tell me what you think.

My favourite line though was an engineer comparing the intelligence of today’s robots with the intelligence of a retarded cockroach.Image

 

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