Robotics is one of the most actively developing industry fields. The combination of engineering, artificial intelligence, and machine learning demonstrates results that scientists could only dream of before. We reflected on what is waiting for people further in the article “People or robots: who’s gonna rule tomorrow”, and today we will tell you about the inspiring, frightening and exciting robots that are already among us.
Hiroshi Ishiguro, a Japanese scientist, not only believes that the future belongs to androids, but also creates it now. His creations, humanoids, are indistinguishable from real people not only in appearance. Robots repeat gestures, copy the habits of the “original”, so that they can easily deceive people they are talking to, and they do not even notice that their dialog partner is a machine.
One of the Ishiguro humanoids played the leading role in Koji Fukada’s Japanese film “Farewell”. This is not the only case when robots replace actors. They participate in the Japanese theater troupe "Seinendan" performances. To say the truth, the head of the troupe recognizes that people play much more accurate and expressive.
Robots also become celebrities. For example, in the Chineese Xinhua News Agency, a robot moderator broadcasts around the clock in Chinese and English. Another robot, the Japanese HRP-4C, became a superstar in his own country – he sings, dances, catwalks, and acts in music videos.
Another exciting robot, BabyX, is a virtual copy of a person. Its creator Mark Sagar, an Oscar winner for technical achievements in the film industry (his designs were used in such films as Avatar, King Kong, Spiderman 2), says “The robot responds to the world just like a small child, right up to the smallest reactions of the body”. BabyX is a 3D rendering of his daughter at the age of 18 months. Sagara plans to create virtual assistants that look very humanlike using the same copying technology. Mark claims that people feel more comfortable while interacting with such robots.
Robots write sonnets, create music, draw pictures. However, can their works be considered as pieces of art, and robots themselves humanlike? There are still ongoing debates on these questions.
While some bots pass the Turing test and convince the jury of their humanity, the creator of the “Chinese Room” experiment, John Searle believes: what we used to call artificial intelligence is not intelligence, but only a specific preset “thinking” algorithm.
An experimental subject is a person who does not know a single Chinese hieroglyph and sits in an isolated room. The only thing he has is records with precise instructions for working with hieroglyphs, without explaining their meanings. There is also an observer outside the room who knows Chinese hieroglyphs and transmits symbols and questions through the door slit.
The experimental subject performs prescripted manipulations with hieroglyphs according to the instructions and gives the observer the answers. His actions resemble a computer algorithm. Although the observer asked a question and received a meaningful answer, the participant himself still does not understand the meaning of the hieroglyphs and cannot learn them.
Searle concluded that, although the robot performs specific preset actions, it is not capable of understanding their meaning. However, the fact that robots are in theory capable of self-learning is considered by scientists to be a significant step towards the creation of real artificial intelligence. For example, the German robot PR2 independently learned to bake pancakes and managed to teach other robots to do it.
Robots learning capacity lies in the neural networks they are based on. As a result, one neural system creates its encryption system and then teaches another neural network, that also independently changes itself from the inside and improves its skills. In the example with robot PR2, this could mean mastering new recipes for pancakes and more.
The boundary between artificial intelligence and a programmed machine is becoming increasingly fuzzy with every passing day.
Journalist Lanre Onibalusi, in his article “5 reasons why robots will never fully replace humans” defines the main limitations of robots capabilities:
Elizabeth Camp, an associate professor at Rutgers University, adds another flaw – the inability of robots to understand sarcasm, humor, feelings. Camp defines them as “very, very human”. Moreover, until robots overcome these difficulties, they cannot fully replace humans.
Just watch this video of actor Will Smith with robot Sophia having a date, and the difference between human and robot thinking will become apparent.
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