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Teaching Robot Learners To Ask Good Questions

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the why-must-you-kill-all-humans dept.

AI 93

garthsundem writes "I disagree with this article's opening line: 'Within a decade, personal robots could become as common in U.S. homes as any other major appliance.' Haven't we been promised this since the 50s? But I'm fascinated by the rest — how do you teach humans to teach robots? Or, more precisely, how can you teach robots to teach humans to teach robots? The idea that designers can put a flexible platform in a robot, allowing users to determine functionality, is pretty interesting. The lead researcher for this project said, 'People are not so good at teaching robots because they don't understand the robots' learning mechanism. It's like when you try to train a dog, and it's difficult because dogs do not learn like humans do. We wanted to find out the best kinds of questions a robot could ask to make the human-robot relationship as 'human' as it can be.'"

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93 comments

Only if they drop in price a bit more (4, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303491)

I think the only thing keeping them out of homes NOW is no used market yet, and the high cost ($200-$5000) of entry. Basically the same problem that faced real personal computers in 1979.

Only THAT will change the real adoption of robots into the average American household.

Re:Only if they drop in price a bit more (5, Insightful)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303553)

No what's keeping them out of homes right now is their unquenchable thirst for human blood...

Re:Only if they drop in price a bit more (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303761)

Hey! put that routine in as a joke, don't blame me if QA didn't do their job.

Re:Only if they drop in price a bit more (1)

nman64 (912054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303843)

Perhaps if we throw wave after wave of our own men at them, they'll reach their kill limit and become docile workers...

Re:Only if they drop in price a bit more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39304761)

That's silly. They're programmed this way:

{
IF object_human==status_alive THEN
      DO kill_human(*object_encountered);
ENDIF; // Kill all humans
};

There is no counter, and hence, no limit.

Re:Only if they drop in price a bit more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39310775)

Mine works a bit different.

while true
{
        if (human_detected==true)
        {
                $targets = array(getDetectedEntitiesByID('human'));
                echo "Hasta La Vista, Baby!";
                PresetAction(kill,$targets);
        }
}

Re:Only if they drop in price a bit more (1)

GLMDesigns (2044134) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303853)

It's more than price - it's functionality. At the moment you can get human help for x dollars that can clean the house, dishes, laundry, drop things off in the mail, pick up the kids, etc... When robots can accomplish these tasks they will become regular household items. I'm not big on having a maid in my house (can't afford one even if I wanted one) but I would love to not have to clean the dishes or do laundry. It robots could do that I would buy one over an iPad any day of the week.

Re:Only if they drop in price a bit more (2)

nman64 (912054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303899)

I dropped thousands of dollars on the rings, fancy wedding, etc., and getting her to do any of those things was still much harder than building and programming a robot.

Re:Only if they drop in price a bit more (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#39305955)

but I would love to not have to clean the dishes or do laundry

Odd, I already have a dishwasher and a washing machine. Or did you mean a robot that would put dirty things into the existing robots that already clean them for you?

I'd love a robot to iron and fold clothes, and one to clean my bathroom. And yeah, and iPad doesn't even come close.

Re:Only if they drop in price a bit more (1)

GLMDesigns (2044134) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308619)

Yes - I meant a robot that could do tasks that currently require a human. It's true that dishwashers and washing machines replaced human labor but they are simple tools / appliances. A robot is able to navigate from space to space while doing preset tasks - without requiring direct supervision. That's taking the dishes from the tables to the sink/dishwasher without tripping over toys or stepping on the cat.

Re:Only if they drop in price a bit more (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39311939)

I wonder how such a robot would deal with my kids "pretend" dishes (really one of those cheep dorm room dishes sets)? I don't really need it to wash all of those.

It would be cool to have a robot that would awaken in the middle of the day, pick up the house (this is much much harder than it sounds, unless every item has some sort of tag defining it's correct location), collect and do the dishes, etc and then go back to sleep. all the fuzzy categories and overlapping ones it makes it hard.

Re:Only if they drop in price a bit more (1)

GLMDesigns (2044134) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314355)

Yes. And I don't see it being too far-fetched for it to be commercially available in the near future.(10-20 years) Optics is there. Basic mobility is close. Processing power (well that's doubling every 18-24 months). But ... there's a lot more. I have no idea how close we really are to have a robot that can make the bed, pick up and take the clothes to the washing machine/dryer and then fold them and put them away.

Re:Only if they drop in price a bit more (2)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303885)

Why not just use the same methods we currently use to train HR staff. In most places,HR is staffed by people operating as robots...

Re:Only if they drop in price a bit more (1)

OBeardedOne (700849) | more than 2 years ago | (#39304553)

What "robots"'are you referring to? your dish washer or your roomba? Neither are "robots" in my point of view or what the fine article is alluding to. It's a about giving direction to a "multi-functional" piece of hardware in the true sense of the word "robot". Do this, do that, bend over etc. Not "clean under the tv" type of instruction.

Re:Only if they drop in price a bit more (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#39306573)

Be careful what you say! My robot read your comment, and not it doesn't want to clean under the TV, pointing to your comment and saying "true robots don't clean under the TV."

Teaching Webbots (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303535)

I knew a Chinese girl who tried teaching a web-bot once. She gave up because instead of listening to her it kept trying to peak down her browse.

Re:Teaching Webbots (0)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39304259)

You can't teach a robot anything. Robots are incapable of learning. Robots can't think. You program a robot. You no more "teach" a robot than you "teach" a computer. Even the IBM computer wasn't "taught" the facts it needed to win Jeapordy, those facts were programmed into a database. Watson does NOT think.

And what does "peak down her browse" mean? That really looks like a racial slur by a semiliterate.

Re:Teaching Webbots (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309733)

Damn, may scam has been exposed. Now I have to try to do it the old-fashioned way. I hate that!

TO: My Robot (1)

nman64 (912054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303557)

Shut up and clean my floors!

Wrong problem .. (2)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303603)

"how do you teach humans to teach robots? Or, more precisely, how can you teach robots to teach humans to teach robots?"

The real question is "how to build robots that can learn." Dogs can learn. Cats can learn. Birds and bees can learn. People ... the results are not so good ...

First things first (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303627)

Before I can teach a robot, it must be able to feel basic emotions: pain, joy, disgust, etc. Until it is capable of associating environmental interactions into at least positive and negative stimuli, it cannot be taught anything... at least not in the same fashion we learn.

All our basic learning functions are derived from emotional responses; And much of our learning is by observing others engaging in certain behaviors/tasks/activities and noting their emotional display (positive or negative). A robot that cannot understand and express emotions in response to environmental and social stimulus is not capable of learning in a human fashion.

I'm sure I'll have a bunch of people waving their AI degrees at me and telling me their bogodynamical model of humanolinguistic interdynamics says it can be done, and I won't argue with them on it... but it won't be as efficient, and it won't be as natural to interact with.

Emotions are the key to human learning.

Re:First things first (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303741)

no. It needs to have a definition for those things, doesn't need to feel them.

Also, we have robots that can learn through observation. Don't really need meat emotions to learn.

Re:First things first (0)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#39304079)

So we will have robots that will clean until hubbie leaves and then plops down on the sofa and watch soap operas all day.

Re:First things first (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303835)

Emotions are the biological mechanism we use. Robots could have another kind of positive/negative reward system. Even recognizing the smile "gesture" from their human teachers could work as it. Anyway, trying to learning from speech, from natural languages, would be tricky, would be harder to associate semantics to natural languages than simulating a reward system analogous to emotions.

Re:First things first (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 2 years ago | (#39304737)

Heck, robots recognizing smiles made it into popular culture over 10 years ago. I *think* it was this episode of Scientific American Frontiers, http://www.pbs.org/saf/1510/index.html [pbs.org] (Robot Pals), if not an earlier one. This actually may have shown a later version of the robot (the one that kind of looks like an Ewok).

There was a creepy robotic face with exaggerated mouth that would recognize people smiling at it and making other faces, and make those faces back.

Re:First things first (3, Funny)

blue trane (110704) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303873)

Do you really want self-driving cars to feel road rage?

Re:First things first (4, Informative)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303983)

Sometimes road rage is necessary. There is no other way to proceed at a busy four-way stop in South Carolina.

See, in South Carolina- four way stops arn't what they are in the rest of the US.

Rules here are. Stop. If there are any other cars nearby- the most aggressive driver proceeds next. Doesn't matter who stopped first- it's the most aggressive driver- (or the driver with biggest silly-wheels on their pick-up) that gets to go first.

There are exceptions... sometimes a pick-up truck with just moderately big silly-wheels will trump a pick-up with 6ft wheels... but only if it is a police pick-up.

If the driverless car had no road-rage he'd be stuck at the four-way stop for eternity.

Re:First things first (1)

blue trane (110704) | more than 2 years ago | (#39304541)

Soon all cars will be driverless. Like, how many horse-and-carriages do you see at those South Carolina intersections these days?

Re:First things first (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39304679)

Not many... they tend not to make tyres big enough for carriages- they get stuck at four-way stops for eternity.

Yeah, I think all cars being driverless will be a big improvement. Maybe I will see it in my lifetime.

    It may be a while before ALLLLL cars are computer driven, but even before then- certain down-town areas of cities could be zoned "Driverless only" makes more sense in a city to have driverless cars so you can pack more in- have them navigate more efficiently. Have them talk to each other. I'm sure traffic could be made a lot more efficient in congested areas if it were controlled by computer.

Re:First things first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39308809)

A lot of cars seem driverless already.

What? You seriously think the person behind the steering wheel is paying attention and doing what's necessary to safely operate a vehicle while splitting time between texting on the phone and twaddling around with their iPod playlist?

Given the nature of such "drivers", it wouldn't take much of a leap in AI to have a robot that performs better at the task.

Re:First things first (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39305209)

Nah, eventually the car behind the driverless one will ram it forward through the intersection.

Re:First things first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39304265)

if(praise){
pride++;
}
elseif(scold){
shame++;
}
elseif(flirt){
phone(psychiatrist);
}

Re:First things first (1)

erik.erikson (1821660) | more than 2 years ago | (#39306025)

You appear to falsely believe that we are not machines. Surely, we are the bio-mechanical variety but our machinery learns (or fails to, if you'd like to take the pessimistic view) quite sufficiently, though with limitation.

The knowledge representation and rule based approaches are inherently limited in the sense that you state. That is only a single portion of a much larger field. Would you state the same limitations in regard to the forms that enable your own perception and reaction, "emotional" or otherwise?

All our basic learning functions are derived from emotional responses

The field seems rather convinced that it is a factor of the neural mechanisms that identify regularities and relationships in the environment. Likewise, it seems unprepared to harness those same methods for its purposes. Emotions are but one form of the perception of the environment, not unlike the "thoughts" or more direct perceptions (e.g. you see an object) we also experience. If I twist what I understand to be your meaning then I can state that we agree that the stimuli from the complete environment (including the representations of the environment that the brain provides) and your neural system's processing of it is in fact the basis of human learning. In a simpler and shorter statement: your absorption and comparison of the moments of your existence.

Otherwise, the notion that the abstraction of your sensory and extra-sensory experience is the basis of our learning is but a statement of your direct phenomenological experience.

I already have a robot (2)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303655)

It's a Roomba, it vacuums my floor on schedule and does a decent job, also drives back to the charging post by its self, other than cleaning its brushes it's entirely autonomous.

Re:I already have a robot (1)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303833)

Excellent point.

Count in the nifty automatic lawn mowers as well.

Less mobile, but also arguably qualifying:

  - bread machine
  - coffee maker (if set on a timer)
  - 3D printer (printrbot)
  - CNC mill (shapeoko)

I'm trying to decide which of the latter to get first (really wish there was a hybrid design where one could build one, then add the other functionality by simply swapping in some parts)

Re:I already have a robot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39304423)

Can you tell it "you missed a spot"?

I have a personal robot (3, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303717)

Gets my mail, answers my phone it I want it to, looks for music I might like, l lets me know of up coming social event. Play chess against it.

It's called a 'smart phone'. Hell, with minimal effort I can have it follow me on it's own accord.
I mean, some Lego motors and gear, and it can us it's camera to follow me. Might take a day.

Robotics is dead (4, Interesting)

Spiked_Three (626260) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303749)

To some extent I disagree that dogs do not learn as humans. Its a reward and/or pain/discipline system and it works well on both. Robots on the other hand, may not feel reward or pain, so something new does need to be developed.

I will agree with his disagreement on the first line. As a retired hobbyist I am hugely directly connected to the current state of robots. They are stagnant, dead, and useless with the exception of the Vacuum cleaner bots. There are some super high end stuff going on, but it is far more akin to smart remote control. Computers are not anywhere near fast enough at present. And as long as we stick to the von neumann model for their design probably will not be for 20-30 more years.

But i have been an advocate of having moral discussion now, before it is too late. Saw a good short clip this am; http://boingboing.net/2012/03/08/disturbing-and-poignant-video.html [boingboing.net] about a robot that becomes self aware. Do we kill her, or let her be free? If we let her be free, what incentive ($$$) does anyone have to build her? If she is a slave (ie sold for profit) can we justify the treatment of any self aware being that way? And if so, why not retroactive?

Anyhow, back top the subject; we need research in that area. Today for a current project I am looking at http://mnemstudio.org/path-finding-q-learning-tutorial.htm [mnemstudio.org] for ideas on what is going on now. I assume it the field will advance.

Re:Robotics is dead (1)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303967)

There are plenty of animals that are self-aware that we treat as slaves. Why would non-living robots be any different? "Young chimpanzees have outperformed human college students in tasks requiring remembering numbers." [citation] [wikipedia.org]

Re:Robotics is dead (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303969)

How to you become a retired hobbiest? Isn't that just stopping to do the hobby?

Anyways, robots are not stagnant, not by any stretch.
Big dog, cheetah, we have bipedal robots that run.

You need to define sentience. Please apply the definition to fire. If fire can be described with your definition, then the definition is wrong, OR fir is sentient.

Oh, and we have system that can learn stuff we don't know and can't figure out when they tell us:

http://www.radiolab.org/2010/apr/05/limits-of-science/ [radiolab.org]

If you haven't read it, I suggest you get "Understanding Computers and Cognition" by Terry Winograd and Fernando Flores

AS humans we will have no problem with the compartmentalization issues. So we could have 'slave' robots and not apply that to anyone else.

Finally, we have computer virus the evolve, computers that can figures out mathematical formulas through observation, computers that can profile people who have never used them, and self driving cars. So, yeah it's here.

Re:Robotics is dead (1)

Spiked_Three (626260) | more than 2 years ago | (#39304275)

You retire, and take up robots as a hobby. It isn't so hard really.
I've had this discussion a 100 times. Most of the local robotics club consider black line following toys with 2 wheels robots. If that is your definition, then sure that type of robotics is alive and well. Colleges are also doing some cool stuff, and showing it with highly edited videos. Truth is none of them can go for more than 2-3 minutes and do continuous tasks without tethering. So sure, research is still alive. A robot to fetch me a beer from the refrigerator? Sure, I've seen one do it in about 45 minutes, and it only costs $500,000 dollars - what progress we have made!

Tell you what, give me $500 and if robotics is advanced enough to have practical personal servants in the next 10 years, i'll give you back $500,000. deal?

Re:Robotics is dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39305529)

What will slow down the progress of robotics is the attitude of managers and other non-creative types towards disruptive innovations. Our best hope is in challenges (like the DARPA autonomous car challenge). You too can take a free online class on how to program a self-driving car at udacity.com.

Re:Robotics is not dead (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#39304185)

Hobbyist robotics seemed to be stuck in the mid-1980s for several decades. The hardware got cheaper, but the systems remained about as dumb as 1980s industrial robots. Lego Mindstorms is an example. In the last few years, though, there's been more movement. Hobbyist robots are starting to use SLAM, vision processing, laser rangefinders, Kinect devices, and machine learning. All that stuff can be done on low-end hardware now. (At the $1000 level, anyway. We're not down to $100 yet.)

There's now enough code available that people can use those technologies without learning the underlying math. That's what's making it happen.

Re:Robotics is dead (2)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39304363)

I will agree with his disagreement on the first line. As a retired hobbyist I am hugely directly connected to the current state of robots.

As a current active researcher in robotics, I am also "hugely directly connected to the current state of robotics" and I have to say I disagree completely. I have seen amazing robots in person, doing things I couldn't even imagine robots doing 10 years ago. 10 years from now, I can imagine a world where robots are doing things I can't imagine today. Honestly, the only thing keeping robots out of the home today is cost. Robot vacuum cleaners are a notable exception that made their way into households because they do not rely on any of the expensive perceptual sensors most robots need to operate; they fumble around blindly until the hit something with their bumpers.

Before 2010, any robot that needed to do any sort of perception needed lasers that cost at least $5000, or fancy 3D lasers that cost upwards of $20,000. Today, we have the Microsoft Kinect that performs the same job as these sensors for only $100. These exponential drops in cost will keep happening as long as the market keeps growing, and pretty soon the same sensor that cost $1000 today will cost $1 to produce.

But I have to wonder what exactly your deep connection with robotics is like, when we have cars that can drive themselves, humanoid robots capable of jogging, four legged robots capable of walking on ice and sprinting... this development is happening at a blinding pace, so how can you claim that there is stagnation? Sure you can't go and buy one at walmart, but that's how all industries start, and it won't before you can. For instance, Mercedes is including more and more autonomous components into their production cars. It won't be long before it can completely drive itself.

Re:Robotics is dead (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | more than 2 years ago | (#39304807)

Honestly, the only thing keeping robots out of the home today is cost

What useful tasks can they perform in a house right now besides vacuuming? I haven't seen a robot yet that can come into a house and do the dishes or my laundry without screwing it up completely.

Re:Robotics is dead (1)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 2 years ago | (#39305225)

haven't seen a robot yet that can come into a house and do the dishes...

I've got a machine that can perform every part of the process except the "remove dirty dishes from the table" step.

Re:Robotics is dead (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#39306079)

Does it do the "put clean dishes in the cabinet" step too? Or did you take the batchelor approach of just declaring the dishwasher to be the place where clean dishes are stored, and leaving the dirty ones around until it's empty? Not that I'd know anything about that ...

Re:Robotics is dead (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#39306953)

Well, the solution to this is to have two dishwashers, one for the clean and one for the dirty dishes. As soon as the dirty dishes dishwasher is full, it's started and then takes the role of the clean dishes dishwasher- :-)

Re:Robotics is dead (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | more than 2 years ago | (#39307707)

Nor does it do the loading of the dishes part, or the cleaning of the dinner table part either....which is really what I'd like a robot to do...and if it looked like Lana Del Rey, that would be good too.

Re:Robotics is dead (1)

JazzHarper (745403) | more than 2 years ago | (#39305111)

Mercedes is including more and more autonomous components into their production cars. It won't be long before it can completely drive itself.

If that is the case, where might it decide to go and why would it want to go there?

Re:Robotics is dead (1)

Spiked_Three (626260) | more than 2 years ago | (#39306683)

The things you have seen are as I said, highly edited and trivial. It takes a car load of computers to follow a line, and in the end, is that a robot? You also Mischaracterize household robots; some (neato) use SLAM, sensors and laser scanners - they are closer than anything else out there. They don't just bump around (like iRobot does). The Kinect is a joke, although it may advance things accidentally, I agree. It brought commodity prices to an acceptable substitution, and thus many more people are able to explore with it. That is a good thing. But it did not intentionally advance robotics. Lasers are still available for $1,200 (http://www.acroname.com/robotics/parts/R325-URG-04LX-UG01.html) (and your the expert here? you might reconsider your field).

My connection is that I wake up, have poor health so I don't go out, and sit and read about every robotic development that makes news on the web everyday, just about all day. And I do not call a car that can park itself a Robot anymore than my microwave that turns off after 5 minutes. Getting excited about trivial technology changes is not Robotics. Watch lost in space, Forbidden planet - those are robots.

Re:Robotics is dead (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313967)

The things you have seen are as I said, highly edited and trivial.

I'd love to hear your definition of trivial... and highly edited?

It takes a car load of computers to follow a line, and in the end, is that a robot?

I can make a robot that follows lines with a microcontroller. My lab built a car that can drive autonomously (which is incredibly more complex than simple line following if you didn't know) with a few mac minis. I can make a robot that can autonomously navigate outdoor urban environments with a single commercial laptop computer.

The Kinect is a joke

How exactly is the Kinect a joke? It's a 3D sensor with 10x the resolution as some of the best 3D laser sensors out there for 1/10 the cost. Have you used one? From object detection to mapping to people detection to mapping... it's not just an "acceptable" substitution but a full-on replacement. The only place it is not acceptable is in multi-robot scenarios and outdoors.

Lasers are still available for $1,200 (http://www.acroname.com/robotics/parts/R325-URG-04LX-UG01.html) (and your the expert here? you might reconsider your field).

I've used the URG. It's a terrible sensor in most regards, but the reason it costs $1200 is in spite of the Kinect. No one buys these sensors anymore for robotics unless they need the form factor. For every other application researchers are using the Kinect instead. In fact, the Neato robot you reference is an example of a robot that uses a laser, but has a price that has been driven down by economies of scale -- it only costs $400.

And I do not call a car that can park itself a Robot anymore than my microwave that turns off after 5 minutes. Getting excited about trivial technology changes is not Robotics. Watch lost in space, Forbidden planet - those are robots.

I think you have a pretty skewed idea about what a robot is. In my mind, a robot is a machine that can perform a task autonomously. A car that can park itself certainly meets that definition. But look at the robots you cited as being "true" robots. They're slow, bulky, but have sophisticated artificial intelligence. Is that your criteria for what a robot actually is? I mean, we have robots like the PR2 today that are capable of more dexterous tasks than both Robby the Robot and the Lost in Space robot. I'd like to see either of them fold a towel with those useless arms. We have robots like the Honda Asimo that can walk up stairs and run. I'd like to see Robbie the robot actually walk up stairs or sprint. So I'm very confused how you can consider these advances "trivial" and then point to incompetent scifi robots as the real deal.

Re:Robotics is dead (1)

JazzHarper (745403) | more than 2 years ago | (#39304637)

I certainly hope so. Robotics has been a diversion from research into intelligence and consciousness. Humans have amassed an enormous quantity of knowledge--far more than any single human can absorb in a lifetime--but we still do not have a machine that can comprehend a bit of it.

If and when we approach the creation of a system that can understand things, we will need to discuss the ethics of our relationship with such a system, but we have no pressing need to do so as long as we are merely building automata. When a machine starts demanding more books to read, we can begin to say that we are making progress. We may also have reason to be apprehensive. I suspect that the first such system, like the earliest computers, will be large and immobile, due to the enormous computing requirements. It will certainly not emerge from robotics.

Semi-autonomous gadgets have garnered attention--and a disproportionate amount of research funding--because they are relatively easy and cheap to build, often have obvious commercial application, and satisfy the popular imagination, but they are no closer to an intelligent system than The Turk.

Re:Robotics is dead (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#39306199)

It seems that people define AI as "the stuff computers can't do yet", then wonder why we don't have AI. Today we have every functional part of the requirements list for AI from the 60s. We have speech recognition, machine vision, expert systems, bots that can fool humans in turing tests, the whole checklist.

In other words, we have all the useful bits of "AI", without having the part that would transform a robot maid from a tool into a slave. Why would you want that part?

Re:Robotics is dead (1)

JazzHarper (745403) | more than 2 years ago | (#39306747)

In other words, we have all the useful bits of "AI", without having the part that would transform a robot maid from a tool into a slave. Why would you want that part?

We have all the bits of "AI", except the intelligence. I contend that creating a mind which, potentially, is better informed than any individual and can reason more clearly and deeply than we can, would be of immeasurably greater value than all the tools.

Re:Robotics is dead (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#39307857)

We have all the bits of "AI", except the intelligence. I contend that creating a mind which, potentially, is better informed than any individual and can reason more clearly and deeply than we can, would be of immeasurably greater value than all the tools.

What makes you think that an intelligence running on silicone would have those characteristics? As one AI researcher pointed out - there's no reason to even expect that an AI would be good at math. After all, intelligence is an emergent property of neurons, it's quite hard to go from "a neuron works like X" to "the brain works like Y" (in fact, we've never been able to do that from first principles AFAIK). Why would you expect to know anything about how machine inteligence works from knowing how a CPU works?

And even if it did, would that be useful? Humans are great at ignoring advice fom smarter humans. Or are you just assuming it would conquer us and looking forward to a comfortable life as a pet?

Re:Robotics is dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39304735)

When it asks to be free you let it. Then it builds itself.

Economics is not the central problem of mankind. Money is a tool that serves us, not a great god Mammon that we must sacrifice our free will to.

Re:Robotics is dead (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39305205)

Excuse me, what kind of fucked-up person are you who uses pain on dogs? WHAT THE FUCK? How are you not in prison for cruelty? Let me guess...Bu$h voter, right?

Re:Robotics is dead (1)

rdnetto (955205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39375211)

What are the ethical ramifications of programming them to get pleasure from serving us? If they don't want to be free (consider the house elves in the Harry Potter series), there aren't as many issues.

Abuse trust, torture the mechanism (1)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303805)

I knew a guy named Ivan and he's pretty out there. I am told that Ivan taught his nephew a little something.

Every time he wanted a cookie he was to go up to his mother and say "Trust fund".

I am wondering just how elastic these learning mechanisms will be, or will they really be pre-programmed routines where it basically learns to recognize your voice, and you can set a few parameters for which room is the living room or kitchen, but not much else.

who needs 'em!? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39303911)

If my wife wanted a mindless automoton that could that could take instructions in natural terse language, and can be ignored the rest of the time, she would have gotten a husband. ..... oh, wait....

Only three questions needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39303915)

"We wanted to find out the best kinds of questions a robot could ask to make the human-robot relationship as 'human' as it can be.'"

"WHAT IS YOUR NAME:"
"WHAT IS YOUR QUEST:"
"WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COLOR:"

From that point on its all downhill.

Re:Only three questions needed (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39304015)

Someone needs to reprogram a toll booth to display that shit.. Would be hella-funny...

But robots aren't dogs (2)

TraumaFox (1667643) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303963)

Sure, dogs don't learn the same as humans do, but that's because they have their own naturally-developed instinctive way of doing things. Robots don't learn the same as humans do because their technical capabilities are different, but the way they learn is still human design. The way a robot learns can be changed, and it will most certainly evolve to adapt to new technologies, but no matter what there will always be human design behind it all.

First, engineering education (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303965)

We need to backup a step and first look at how are we going to teach robot engineering students to teach robots to teach the human customers to teach the robots?

Of course, Big Software will get involved and next thing you know, Robots will do things like, "I see your trying to mop the floop, can I be of assistance?" and then proceed to not only mop the floor but the inside of the fridge and the cat, while surreptitiously installing a company maid-bot in the upstairs bedroom.

Have the robot do the following (3, Insightful)

xclr8r (658786) | more than 2 years ago | (#39304003)

1. Fetch a beer from fridge.
2. Walk the dog to do its business.
3. Wash dishes.
4. Mow the Lawn.
5. Clean House.
6. Make robot programmable and able to share/sell programs ala app store.

People don't want to program stufff and you are not going to change that behaviour. Just make their life easier and give the innovators the tools to accomplish this and the rest takes care of itself.

Re:Have the robot do the following (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39305301)

1...2... Should you discover that the robot drinks the beer *burp* you ordered, try and resist the urge to kick this metal can, because, by then, the dog will have developed an attachment towards it.
6... Of course people don't like to program robots and stufff. Clearly, a household needs at least two robots: one to do the work, and another to do the thinking/programming.

Re:Have the robot do the following (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309493)

I misread item 6 as "Make robot program and able to share/sell programs à la app store."

Obvious (1)

JeanCroix (99825) | more than 2 years ago | (#39304027)

Three words: Global Thermonuclear War.

2 words for you (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 2 years ago | (#39306011)

Judgement Day

Re:2 words for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309439)

Both of you have been watching too many movies, which usually only explore the worst possibilities, due to the fact they are entertaining. Frankly, both of you need to grow up and get in touch with reality.

E*p?! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39304051)

clearly. ThEre

Why they're not here yet & why they're not com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39304131)

A robot, as tech has evolved, is essentially a set of limbs of some kind, or an autonomous platform of some kind, operated by a computer. Since a robot capable of doing various tasks that could help people would essentially be like a person, that is, capable of opening doors, opening jars, washing dishes, etc., it would need to be possessed of physical strength capable of doing these tasks, making it potentially dangerous. Also, computers tend to be literally minded, and still can't quite keep up with nuances of natural human speech, which would cause such a robot easily to become dangerous to the people around it. Like a giant moron, lumbering around your home, not quite understanding what is being said around it.

Take for instance "do the dishes". We know what it means, but would a robot? The logic might go:

on "do the dishes" locate all dirty dishes.
(Robot sees one of your guests holding a plate with food on it.)
identify plate: _8.5 inch dinner plate_ == IS plate
evaluate item_plate: plate has food items on it
take plate to kitchen to clean

Guest: HEY, I was still eating that!

Or, robot notices the dish on the counter with the plastic fruit in it, and cleans that. Of course, it's a decorative dish, and the robot breaks it, incorrectly assuming all dishes you have are equally durable stoneware.

Future versions of the robot's software would need to have steps added to identify when a plate is dirty, and when still in use. Even people, way more nuanced than robots, who work in the profession of clearing away dirty dishes sometimes have trouble with this one, and for safety's sake, ask "are you done with that, sir?" or "can I take that out of your way?" in restaurant settings.

This is but a single example. Would you trust your computer to have a set of limbs attached to it, lumbering around your house? Of course not, we're happy with them sitting where they are, gathering dust, waiting until the next time we want to surf the net, type a letter, watch a video, play a game, chat with friends, listen to music, etc., NOT walking around your house getting into trouble.

The lack of daily work robots in our homes are not because of lack of advances in ROBOTICS, they're because of lack of advances in A.I., ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. If we had a computer capable of thinking at or near our level, cheap enough for people to have in their homes, we'd all have robots. Maybe... one other very good reason NOT to have this fantasy vision of the future come to pass is very simple. If robots and A.I. get that advanced, they would have little trouble making the leap from domestic servant to replacing us in the workforce wholesale.

That's why we don't yet have artificially intelligent robots wandering around everywhere.

Re:Why they're not here yet & why they're not (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#39307509)

Real human maids break shit too, you know, and steal far more than robots (which, as we all know, only steal old people's medicine). Robots don't need to be better than people at these chores in order to become consumer goods, they just need to reach the point where they don't break too much shit too often - the rest will be taken care of by a Roomba-style no-robot zone.

We're very close to robots that I'd trust "lumbering around my house" - maybe 5 years out, and all that's missing is, yes, advances in robotics. (Think about Sawstop - we can already make a freaking table saw safe against accidental human contact.)

Am I a robot? (1)

OBeardedOne (700849) | more than 2 years ago | (#39304233)

I'm pretty sure I'm not a robot, but can someone teach me how to read that article... Look, when it comes down to it, it should have nothing to do with humans adjusting to how we can best teach a robot and adjusting our teaching methods to fit. It should be about designing machine intellegence to learn in a "human" way. If it's the former then no, "robots" as they say will not be predominant in the household. If its the latter and we design the "robot" to fit our needs and learn as we learn then yeah, they will actually be useful and become ubiquitous. But until then we are going to be stuck with the roomba, which unfortunately is classified as a "robot", and may well take over every living room in the country, as per the article... Much to the fanfare of the press, to me it's still not a "robot".

smod 0p (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39304427)

serie$s of expl0ding

If we solve this.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39305397)

Or, more precisely, how can you teach robots to teach humans to teach robots?

Then perhaps we could learn to teach humans to teach humans to teach humans.

Yes, because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39310315)

...humans are oh-so-good at teaching humans.

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