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"Tweenbots" Test NYC Pedestrian-Robot Relations

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the heart-of-gold-beneath-that-hard-bitten-exterior dept.

Robotics 197

MBCook recommends Kacie Kinzer's tweenbots page, which documents some of her experiments with small, anthropomorphized robots that need help. Kinzer is writing a thesis (at the Center for the Recently Possible) centered around investigating whether people in New York City will help a cute little robot to get where it's going. "Tweenbots are human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal."

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Good Grief (5, Insightful)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27544939)

Griefers [wikipedia.org] will love this toy.

Re:Good Grief (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27545111)

How slow is Slashdot? Honestly. I heard about these about a half a week ago.

Re:Good Grief (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27545157)

Stop complaining, you ungrateful fuck.

first dismiss (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27544941)

damn bots!

Anyone else surprised... (5, Insightful)

Briareos (21163) | more than 5 years ago | (#27544945)

...that the bomb squad didn't show up [wikipedia.org] ?

np: Radiohead - Polyethylene (Parts 1 & 2) (Airbag / How Am I Driving?)

Re:Anyone else surprised... (4, Insightful)

steelfood (895457) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545073)

When tourists see it, they say, "New York City." and take pictures.
When natives see it, they say, "New York City." and move on.

Re:Anyone else surprised... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27545113)

There's a reason they're doing this in New York, and not Boston, there. Keep in mind that those things were in other major cites, and Boston is the only major city in the world to order evacuations over LED animated cartoon characters.

There's a reason that Boston isn't known for anything except baked beans and New York is a center for culture, art, music, and science.

Re:Anyone else surprised... (2, Interesting)

Briareos (21163) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545495)

There's a reason that Boston isn't known for anything except baked beans and New York is a center for culture, art, music, and science.

Heh.

My home town is this year's European "Capital of Culture" (aka "Linz 09" [linz09.at] )...

I still don't see how putting a ferris wheel on top of a parking garage [linz09.at] is very cultural, but maybe that's just me.

np: Herbert - Harmonise (Scale)

Re:Anyone else surprised... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545577)

There's a reason they're doing this in New York, and not Boston

Yeah - and the reason is that there's so much weird shit going on in New York at any given time, nobody will notice the tweenbots. Not to mention that New York is (in)famous for being the rudest city in the US. If a tweenbot can survive there, it can survive anywhere.

Re:Anyone else surprised... (1)

Anubis350 (772791) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545873)

Not to mention that New York is (in)famous for being the rudest city in the US. If a tweenbot can survive there, it can survive anywhere.

Not really true though [readersdigest.ca] :-p. From personal experience since I grew up in the city, still live here, but have traveled a lot - it's not really that we're rude, it's that jumbled as we are we're more "nosy" than most, combined with a brusqueness that outsiders interpret as rude.

Re:Anyone else surprised... (2, Funny)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 5 years ago | (#27546103)

Idunno... there's still Jersey.

Re:Anyone else surprised... (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545937)

I imagine if you did this stuff here in Omaha, you'd be arrested or fined for disturbing the peace.

Re:Anyone else surprised... (5, Interesting)

LordKaT (619540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545215)

As someone born and raised in NYC (I didn't spend most of my days on the playground, though), I can say I'm not surprised in the least.

This city is as "business minded" and conservative as it is "artsy" and liberal. Quite frankly, there's so much shit going on in this city on any given day that things like this just don't seem like anything important.

I can't begin to tell you how many times I've managed to walk through the middle of a TV show or movie taping simply because I was walking to the subway, or how many unique pieces of art I've actually stepped on (because they were built into the sidewalk) - all of which were genius in their own right, and would be praised as such in any smaller city, but because of the overwhelming amount of stuff here, its artistic importance is significantly diminished.

Re:Anyone else surprised... (1)

Fallen Seraph (808728) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545253)

I've seen weirder things in the city (I live in NYC).

I once saw a girl walking a watermelon on a leash. and by walking, I mean draggin... on a leash, like it was a dog. She was about 25. Lots of people here do strange things for fun or art :P Not to mention the myriad of weird advertising campaigns we have.

Re:Anyone else surprised... (5, Interesting)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545421)

It must be fun to live there. In my city (Bydgoszcz, Poland), the most interesting random thing I recently saw happening on a street was a bunch of cats sitting together with pidgeons:

http://fc02.deviantart.com/fs42/f/2009/059/f/1/freedom_by_harry666t.jpg

However, the only thing that actually keeps making my city less and less attractive to me, is that it's getting harder and harder for me to get lost in it. I just know it too good, and I like exploring new places, getting somewhat lost, turning a short, 3h walk into a "where am I and how the fuck do I get back home from here".

Re:Anyone else surprised... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27545615)

Not being able to pronounce the name must help.

Re:Anyone else surprised... (4, Funny)

kv9 (697238) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545781)

It must be fun to live there. In my city (Bydgoszcz, Poland), the most interesting random thing I recently saw happening on a street was a bunch of cats sitting together with pidgeons:

there's a joke in there about polish cats, but I can't quite figure it out.

Re:Anyone else surprised... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27545595)

np: Radiohead - Polyethylene (Parts 1 & 2) (Airbag / How Am I Driving?)

This would have been hilarious on the 1st of April, but otherwise it's really depressing.

Re:Anyone else surprised... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27545721)

Don't you know anything? Obama is president now. There is no more terrorism!

The bad thing about Tweenbots... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27544971)

Constantly text messaging other tweenbots.

Re:The bad thing about Tweenbots... (3, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545107)

Tweenbots: easily the most annoying robot ever.

Re:The bad thing about Tweenbots... (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545345)

And they live on facebook. And that other one, that makes your browser crash.

Re:The bad thing about Tweenbots... (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545361)

Tweenbot: i am in Central Park Tweenbot: i have run into a fence. a nice lady is moving me in the other direction. Tweenbot: i am stuck by a tree. a dog is sniffing me. Tweenbot: dog piss smells. note to self: when lost dont ask dogs for directions Tweenbot: ask nice robot lady to upgrade module so i can write capital letters Tweenbot: ouch! bicycles hurt!

Re:The bad thing about Tweenbots... (1)

Briareos (21163) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545501)

Wouldn't that be Tweetbots? *shudder*

np: Herbert - We're In Love (Scale)

Awwww (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27544973)

That is so freakin' adorable! :3

I am AWESOM-O (2, Funny)

relikx (1266746) | more than 5 years ago | (#27544991)

That's what I think of when I hear tweenbot [wikipedia.org]

this is off topic but.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27545013)

Why do new comments on stories go to the bottom of the list? It doesn't work; it discourages people from posting (they think no one will bother reading it). Can you imagine if new stories went to the bottom of the list?

Re:this is off topic but.. (1, Offtopic)

Quothz (683368) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545041)

Why do new comments on stories go to the bottom of the list?

Because your preferences are set that way. It's the default for new accounts and cowards such as yourself. Create an account and set it to display as you like.

Re:this is off topic but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27545395)

I take the opposite point of view. Don't you find it difficult to read the comments of a thread in the opposite order they were posted? Discussions become meaningless.

I am Paddle-to-the-Sea (2, Insightful)

qwerty shrdlu (799408) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545039)

Please put me back in the water.

Re:I am Paddle-to-the-Sea (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545125)

Exactly! Loved the Holling C. Holling books.

Cute robot (4, Interesting)

Alarindris (1253418) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545045)

I wonder what would happen if he had a frowny face? Or changing the wording on the flag to be less helpless or even rude?

I've always wondered if I took a postcard, wrote someone's name and city to be delivered to, and gave it to a random person. Would it ever get there? I'm going to try it tonight.

Re:Cute robot (1)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545123)

very interesting point. Does anyone know what the actual wording on the message is/was? I cant see it in the article anywhere...

Re:Cute robot (1)

ZaphodHarkonnen (962799) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545249)

From the video it looked like the top line on the flag was "HELP ME!"

Re:Cute robot (1)

Capt. Cooley (1438063) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545135)

I was wondering what would happen if it had a frowny face too. I imagine a lot less people would have helped it. I mean, who can say no to a smiley face?

Re:Cute robot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27545179)

I think it would be interesting to make the next grad student write a thesis titled "Tweenbots: Escape from East LA".

Re:Cute robot (5, Interesting)

orangepeel (114557) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545205)

Your post reminds me a little of the "Postal Experiments" [improbable.com] that I remember reading about amongst some comments here on Slashdot nearly 10 years ago:

We sent a variety of unpackaged items to U.S. destinations, appropriately stamped for weight and size, as well as a few items packaged as noted. We sent items that loosely fit into the following general categories: valuable, sentimental, unwieldy, pointless, potentially suspicious, and disgusting.

It's tough to say what my personal favorite was, but I think the helium-filled balloon at least deserves special mention. :-)

Re:Cute robot (2, Informative)

hhr (909621) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545209)

> "I've always wondered if I took a postcard, wrote someone's name and city to be delivered to, and gave it to a random person. Would it ever get there?"

That experiement has already be done. Read about Milgram's "Small World Experiement." It's the experiement that originated the phrase "Six Degrees of Separation." Milgram did a rigours version of "write a name and city on a post card and ask a random person to help deliver it."

Re:Cute robot (2, Informative)

edcheevy (1160545) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545247)

Eventually it ought to, geocachers do the same thing with trackable items [geocaching.com] . :)

Re:Cute robot (5, Interesting)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545261)

I was on a walk today. I bought a notebook and a pen, and I spent time writing anonymous, open letters or drawing things whenever I had to wait for the traffic lights to change. When I was heading back home, I began giving some of those letters and drawings to random people on the street. Some people were surprised, some didn't want to take the piece of paper (maybe thought it was just a flyer). I think I'm going to do that again.

Sorry if you haven't realized this yet but... (4, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545623)

I think you are a crazy person ;)

Re:Sorry if you haven't realized this yet but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27545717)

That's actually a nice thing to do. It's an unexpected, apparently pointless event that wakes people up from their daily routine. It's like a gift out of the blue, the best kind. To have that effect, it must be sufficiently weird to be a rare occurrence. A piece of paper with an individual message from a stranger seems to fit that description.

Re:Cute robot (1)

acidrain (35064) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545423)

Would it ever get there? I'm going to try it tonight. Hey, that way you might even get lucky... tonight.

Uhm.. (3, Interesting)

GMThomas (1115405) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545051)

I can't imagine this being entirely safe. What if someone points it where it rolls out into the middle of a busy intersection, and somebody slams on their brakes or swerves to avoid it, causing an accident or hitting a pedestrian?

Re:Uhm.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27545085)

in NYC ? the cars barely move faster than the peds.

Re:Uhm.. (4, Insightful)

rduke15 (721841) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545129)

Well, life in general isn't entirely safe.

Re:Uhm.. (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545999)

I can't imagine this being entirely safe. What if someone points it where it rolls out into the middle of a busy intersection, and somebody slams on their brakes or swerves to avoid it, causing an accident or hitting a pedestrian?

By this logic, people should never take their children outdoors ever.

Would it work elsewhere? (4, Interesting)

rduke15 (721841) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545079)

In New York (some 20 years ago) I was surprised by how nice and helpful the people are in the street. If I just pulled out a map to have a look at it, people would stop and ask if they could help me.

I doubt these robots would survive and reach their destinations in Paris, for example. But it would be interesting to try. I may be wrong.

(I live neither in Paris nor in NY, and am neither French nor American)

Re:Would it work elsewhere? (2, Insightful)

LordKaT (619540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545263)

I think some of the helpfulness you run into in NYC is also partially due to people living here long enough to be lost themselves. I know for a fact that this city can be downright confusing and you can lose your sense of direction pretty easily - especially if you're coming up from the Subway.

Of course, that train of logic usually only applies to Manhattan island. Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx each tend to be their own different story.

But I think the truth is that most people in the world, not just New Yorkers, are pretty helpful.

God help you if you decide to drive in the city, though!

Re:Would it work elsewhere? (5, Funny)

lagomorpha2 (1376475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545283)

If I had to guess, in Paris it would depend on the language the directions were written in:

English - it'd be damaged and tossed in the garbage
French - it'd arrive at its destination with a baguette, cigarette in its mouth, and have lipstick in interesting areas
German - it'd arrive along with a letter of French surrender

Re:Would it work elsewhere? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545297)

I doubt these robots would survive and reach their destinations in Paris, for example. But it would be interesting to try. I may be wrong.

If you keep the request for directions in English, then everyone will understand but you can be damn sure it'll never reach its destination.

Re:Would it work elsewhere? (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545929)

From what I've heard, that's true. French people, by reputation, are incredibly intolerant of English speakers, particularly Americans. Americans are less bigoted towards the French than the French are towards Americans, from what I hear. Anyone have any anecdotes related to this?

Re:Would it work elsewhere? (4, Interesting)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545339)

Both Parisians and New Yorkers get a bad rap. In my experience, as long as you accept a few cultural norms, the residents of both cities tend to be gracious and helpful.

Firstly, you've got to understand that people in a city as large and dense as New York are going to appear somewhat impersonal at times...otherwise you'd collapse from sensory overload. However, beneath this facade, Similarly, for whatever reason, time on the subway is considered "private time," and it's generally frowned upon to talk loudly or make eye contact with strangers, etc. Perhaps an anthropologist or sociologist could chime in and suggest why this might be?

New Yorkers, in my opinion, tend to be some of the most gracious and sympathetic city-dwellers I know of. Of course, traditions and dispositions tend to vary tremendously from borough to borough. I've been living in the south for the past few years, and have found "Southern Hospitality" to be largely a myth, apart from the initial friendly facade that people tend to put on -- at the very least, the northeast doesn't deserve the rap it gets from the rest of the country.

Paris is somewhat similar. Parisians have a reputation for being rude and unfriendly to outsiders. I've visited the city three times, and have never observed this to be the case. I only speak a tiny bit of French, though this seems to be greatly appreciated. I could imagine being treated rudely if I didn't know any of the language (and rightfully so).

In fact, there are very few cities I've visited that I've found to be outwardly oppressive.

Re:Would it work elsewhere? (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545449)

I live in NYC (not a native) and it's true that New Yorkers are friendly-- I think in part due to the fact that so many of us aren't natives. I know that I'm inclined to be helpful when I see someone who needs directions and things because I know how tough it can be to get around when you aren't familiar with the city. Also, I think that so many people living in a relatively small area leaves you with the pretty distinct sense that, "We have to find a way to get along, or this is really going to suck for all of us."

Also, we're used to weirdos. Having a little cardboard robot come and ask for help wouldn't even be close to the strangest thing to happen in Washington Sq Park.

Re:Would it work elsewhere? (2, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545457)

They let this robot loose in the middle of a park, where people are leisurely enjoying themselves. Of course people are going to help it. They should have put it down in the financial district, where it would have gotten sworn at, kicked, dropped in a gutter, then run over.

Or maybe they could have put it down in Washington and gotten it a stimulus.

Re:Would it work elsewhere? (1)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545907)

I wouldn't say that. Seems like every shot in the video shows someone walking by and stopping to help, not people lounging on park benches and taking some of their leisure time to stand up and tinker with the cute robot. The video does show about 3 of the 42 minutes of the journey, so there's probably selection bias, but there are still obviously plenty of people who took a minute out of traveling time to help it, not just leisure time.

unbelievable (3, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545081)

Every time the robot got caught under a park bench, ground futilely against a curb, or became trapped in a pothole, some passerby would always rescue it and send it toward its goal. Never once was a Tweenbot lost or damaged. Often, people would ignore the instructions to aim the Tweenbot in the âoerightâ direction, if that direction meant sending the robot into a perilous situation.

I'd have lost that bet. Maybe I'm too cynical.

But the one example they showed was entirely within a city park. I can't imagine this working in the city, the odds of it getting ran over would have to approach 1:1 most other places.

I wonder if the sidewalk it was traveling down (to the south) had a physical barrier blocking it from going further south? (toward traffic) In that respect I would expect the locations were carefully chosen to minimize risk.

Re:unbelievable (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545099)

It's a pretty fascinating result, isn't it? While these little cardboard 'bots can only operate in a relatively safe environment (they'd be easy to step on and claim it was an accident) it makes me wonder how complex a robot could be and still receive useful assistance.

Re:unbelievable (3, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545133)

I bet they are as basic as it gets, they probably bought one of those $19 radio shack remote control cars, you know the ones with a single button remote that makes it back up while turning the wheel, removed the shell, (or maybe not!) and put the cardboard top on it. Probably the biggest challenge was making sure the batteries would last the duration of the test. That one was what, 40-some minutes, that's a long time for a pair of C batteries.

I suppose they could have extended battery life by simply removing the receiver altogether since it was unnecessary.

I bet they would have gotten even better results by adding a push sensor bumper on the front, that when it hit something it would make a little pathetic squeak or something. That would add a whole new angle to the analysis and anthropomorphize it one step more by appealing more to the public's sense of pity. (or annoyance I suppose) Might do the same with a tilt sensor so it would also sound pathetic if it tipped over.

Re:unbelievable (1)

sakonofie (979872) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545255)

I'd have lost this bet too. I live in NYC and I would have bet it wouldn't have lasted a day without receiving a shift kick to its ever smiling cardboard face by a crowd rushing to their respective destinations.
The pictures seems to be taken near NYU ( Broadway and Waverly [google.com] and WSP [google.com] ). Maybe people who hang around universities are particularly helpful?
From experience, these are relatively calm areas (for NY). And I don't see evidence of it crossing streets. Is there any evidence of the author trying tougher challenges like union square or handling traffic lights?

And yes, there has been construction off and on 4th and Broadway (2 blocks south of the sidewalk picture) recently.

Re:unbelievable (3, Interesting)

Quothz (683368) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545563)

The pictures seems to be taken near NYU ( Broadway and Waverly and WSP ).

The words seems to indicates that these was entirely done at WSP.

Is there any evidence of the author trying tougher challenges like union square or handling traffic lights?

My super-secret sources tell me that this was the first in a series and that you can be notified of upcoming missions (and new bot designs) by sending a note to a super-secret email address [mailto] .

Re:unbelievable (2, Interesting)

Quothz (683368) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545535)

I wonder if the sidewalk it was traveling down (to the south) had a physical barrier blocking it from going further south? (toward traffic)

From the photos and Google Maps, it looks like it's partially separated from the road by fenced trees and shrubbery, but there's wide gaps where the road is accessible. It seems the lil' fellow did nearly go on a journey of discovery into traffic at one point:

One man turned the robot back in the direction from which it had just come, saying out loud to the Tweenbot, "You can't go that way, it's toward the road."

steal it? (2)

blondie.xo (1527639) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545131)

Won't people steal this? I would if I saw a cute little robot on the street!

Re:steal it? (2, Interesting)

kkrajewski (1459331) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545155)

My first reaction was actually that it was so adorable that I'd run it all the way to its destination.

Re:steal it? (2, Funny)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545187)

And my first reaction would be to set its flag on fire.

Whatever floats your boat, I suppose.

Re:steal it? (4, Funny)

kkrajewski (1459331) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545197)

I'm obviously too easily manipulated by adorable tiny things. Oh, the cats are saying it's dinner time...

Re:steal it? (1)

blondie.xo (1527639) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545257)

I am going to get one My own tiny adorable robot

Re:steal it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27545459)

Light the flag on fire? You probably shoot at small animals too.

Re:steal it? (5, Funny)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545639)

Showing weakness to the machines is the first step towards your annihilation. First they help the "adorable robot", and next thing you know they're equipping it with firearms, you know, for "self defense".

Re:steal it? (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545793)

My cynicism went the other way.

"What are they advertising?" was my first thought, then after I realised it was an experiment I moved on to "sooner or later someone will pervert this for advertising"

Re:steal it? (1)

kylemonger (686302) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545195)

Steal it and do what with it? If I saw one of these things I'd start looking for the hidden camera, because this looks like one of the stunts Candid Camera or one of its many imitators would pull. I think the thought of unseen surveillance would keep people on their best behavior, even if they had evil thoughts.

Step 2: Add taser (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545137)

Step 3: Record results and post on YouTube...

Re:Step 2: Add taser (1)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545169)

dont Twaze me bro

Re:Step 2: Add taser (1)

blondie.xo (1527639) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545289)

awww, that's mean. it would be funny, but mean. thats why i suggested i just get my own :)

Weren't there any animals around? (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545273)

I expected to see at least one dog "marking" it and possibly a cat trying to catch that flag.

Am I the only one (2, Funny)

AnalPerfume (1356177) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545293)

Who read "tweenbots" in the title and thought it was some new type of botnet which infected kids toy pre-school computers or some web 2.0 corporate invented term for a botnet created by a tweeny-scripter? Here I thought Windows was bad enough that kids can cause havok, now the starting age has dropped even further? All I heard was 19 by Paul Hardcastle with altered lyrics:

"In 1999 the average age of a Windows hacker was 19, in 2009 it's 9."

So what happens (3, Funny)

gringofrijolero (1489395) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545301)

...if you put a squeegee and a tin can in its claw?

ok, let me get this straight (-1, Flamebait)

Velex (120469) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545327)

Men in computer science: robot vision, algorithms to avoid terrain and navigate obstacles, logic, highly advanced everything, etc.

Women in computer science: puts a smiley face on a box on wheels that only goes straight and calls it the same as the above.

What am I missing?

Good god, though, someone give her an award for having a vagina and touching something electronic!

Re:ok, let me get this straight (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545369)

You misunderstand: The robot is a women -- It's asking for directions.

Re:ok, let me get this straight (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545379)

There may be a gender difference issue here but it doesn't suggest that one gender is more superior than the other at computer science. Using crowdsourcing is a perfectly legitimate trick and using a social solution might indeed be more stereotypically feminine. The author didn't claim to be doing groundbreaking computer science work, merely having fun. Moreover, her solution works. The stereotypical male solution you mention would likely not be able to successfully get from one location to another the way the tweenbots do. So by standards of success, her solution worked. Don't forget that.

Re:ok, let me get this straight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27545465)

I don't think anyone is suggesting one gender is more superior at computer science, they're suggesting that one gender is more superior at asking for directions.

Re:ok, let me get this straight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27545525)

Getting a Ph.D. in anything requires a significant contribution to the state of the art in a particular field. Without reading the article, I'm not entirely sure what that field is, but expecting something very hard or very high impact is perfectly reasonable for a Ph.D.

Re:ok, let me get this straight (1)

Garridan (597129) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545785)

ITP is a two-year graduate program located in the Tisch School of the Arts whose mission is to explore the imaginative use of communications technologies...

From what I've seen on her website, and her school's site, I'd describe her as an art student focusing on communication technology. This is definitely an experiment in communication, and it's definitely got an "artsy" angle to it. She certainly isn't claiming to be a computer scientist.

A little more digging on the Tisch website indicates that she's a Masters student. Having seen a number of "digital arts" masters and doctoral projects, I'd say this is pretty normal for a masters thesis. Hard or high impact? Probably not -- but it is neat, and she is putting a lot of work into it.

Re:ok, let me get this straight (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27545589)

Men in computer science: robot vision, algorithms to avoid terrain and navigate obstacles, logic, highly advanced everything, etc.

Women in sociology: puts a smiley face on a box on wheels that only goes straight and calls it a social experiment.

Fixed that for you.

Your chauvinism is the one who wanted to label it computer science, not her.

Re:ok, let me get this straight (1)

heritage727 (693099) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545689)

What you're missing is that it isn't a computer science or robotics project.

what! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27545337)

No one ran up and gave it a big kick!

12.7 Seconds (4, Funny)

TooMad (967091) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545347)

Before the first bot was mugged.

Oblig... (5, Funny)

Argumentator (1524195) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545371)

1. Make a sad-faced robot carrying a coin jar.
2. Give it a sign saying "Brother, can you spare a quarter so I can buy a new battery?"
3. ???
4. PROFIT!

wouldn't have worked in boston (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27545427)

tweenbot would've look like this to them
http://i40.tinypic.com/335cc4k.jpg

Stolen??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27545473)

I would expect them to all get stolen in 60 seconds.

Re:Stolen??? (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545655)

I would expect them to all get stolen in 60 seconds.

You mean, Gone, right?

I live in new york (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27545485)

this robot is going to get stolen on the first day LOL.

Doesn't really demonstrate much.... (2, Interesting)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545685)

It's quite possible that the primary reason most of those people stopped to aid it was because of their fascination and the uniqueness of it. Had it not been something that stood out dramatically from the expected, I suspect it would have received little attention and even less help.

It likely demonstrates very little of a social nature at all.

Re:Doesn't really demonstrate much.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27546001)

Had it not been something that stood out dramatically from the expected, I suspect it would have received little attention and even less help.

Agreed.

Oddly this sounds like (4, Funny)

Archfeld (6757) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545711)

any number of software releases. Thrown to the publics' mercy, unready for the real world, totally dependent on someone else's goodwill to succeed.

Delay the Singularity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27545799)

Are you kidding me? Kick the little frakker into the bushes. DO NOT help 'bots destroy humanity. Every person who thinks it's a good idea to help speed our inevitable destruction is a sympathizer.

Pedestrian-Robot Relations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27545863)

I am Tween-3P0 Pedestrian-Robot Relations, and this is my counterpart Tween-2D2

I would help them if that was the case

New Term (3, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545995)

I predict a new term will raise to popularity from this: eRoadKill

This is how Skynet starts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27546067)

1. Adorable cardboard box.
2. ???
3. ???
4. Arnold.

The concept is flawed... (3, Interesting)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 5 years ago | (#27546115)

4chan loves kittens. NYC may display helpful benevolence towards these little dudes, that shouldn't be taken to mean anything other than that as a whole NYC has a soft spot for cute small robots.

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