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posted by chromas on Monday October 08 2018, @05:55AM   Printer-friendly
from the plus-it-vibrates! dept.

Increasingly Human-Like Robots Spark Fascination and Fear:

Sporting a trendy brown bob, a humanoid robot named Erica chats to a man in front of stunned audience members in Madrid.

She and others like her are a prime focus of robotic research, as their uncanny human form could be key to integrating such machines into our lives, said researchers gathered this week at the annual International Conference on Intelligent Robots.

"You mentioned project management. Can you please tell me more?" Erica, who is playing the role of an employer, asks the man.

She may not understand the conversation, but she's been trained to detect key words and respond to them.

A source of controversy due in part to fears for human employment, the presence of robots in our daily lives is nevertheless inevitable, engineers at the conference said.

The trick to making them more palatable, they added, is to make them look and act more human so that we accept them into our lives more easily.

In ageing societies, "robots will coexist with humans sooner or later", said Hiroko Kamide, a Japanese psychologist who specialises in relations between humans and robots.

Welcoming robots into households or workplaces involves developing "multipurpose machines that are capable of interacting" with humans without being dangerous, said Philippe Soueres, head of the robotics department at a laboratory belonging to France's CNRS scientific institute.

As such, robots must move around "in a supple way" despite their rigid mechanics and stop what they are doing in case of any unforeseen event, he added.

That's why people are choosing "modular systems shaped like human bodies" which are meant to easily fit into real-world environments built for humans.

[...] While it may not be the only form used for those coming into contact with humans, "it's easier for people to accept the robots when they have human-like faces because people can expect how the robots will move, will react," said Kamide.

That's comforting, but it also has its limits.

Japanese researcher Masahiro Mori's "uncanny valley" theory, which he developed in the 1970s, states that we react positively to robots if they have physical features familiar to us but they disturb us if they start looking too much like us.[*]

[...] "You can't ever make a perfect human face" and this imperfection provokes a feeling of "rejection" among humans, said Miguel Salichs, a professor at the robotics lab of Madrid's Carlos III University.

Pictures of Erica in profile and of Erica up close.

[*] This definition of "Uncanny Valley" is incorrect, see Wikipedia:

In aesthetics, the uncanny valley is a hypothesized relationship between the degree of an object's resemblance to a human being and the emotional response to such an object. The concept of the uncanny valley suggests humanoid objects which appear almost, but not exactly, like real human beings elicit uncanny, or strangely familiar, feelings of eeriness and revulsion in observers. Valley denotes a dip in the human observer's affinity for the replica, a relation that otherwise increases with the replica's human likeness.

In other words, cartoons are okay, and so are perfect human replicas, but there's a dip in between where it elicits a that looks "off" response.

How realistic would you rate this effort? Where do we go from here?


Original Submission

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Nvidia Announces “Moonshot” to Create Embodied Human-Level AI in Robot Form 16 comments

https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2024/03/nvidia-announces-moonshot-to-create-embodied-human-level-ai-in-robot-form/

In sci-fi films, the rise of humanlike artificial intelligence often comes hand in hand with a physical platform, such as an android or robot. While the most advanced AI language models so far seem mostly like disembodied voices echoing from an anonymous data center, they might not remain that way for long. Some companies like Google, Figure, Microsoft, Tesla, Boston Dynamics, and others are working toward giving AI models a body. This is called "embodiment," and AI chipmaker Nvidia wants to accelerate the process.

[...] To that end, Nvidia announced Project GR00T, a general-purpose foundation model for humanoid robots. As a type of AI model itself, Nvidia hopes GR00T (which stands for "Generalist Robot 00 Technology" but sounds a lot like a famous Marvel character) will serve as an AI mind for robots, enabling them to learn skills and solve various tasks on the fly. In a tweet, Nvidia researcher Linxi "Jim" Fan called the project "our moonshot to solve embodied AGI in the physical world."

[...] According to Fan, Project GR00T is a cornerstone of his newly founded GEAR Lab (short for "Generalist Embodied Agent Research"). During his time at Nvidia, Fan has specialized in using simulations of physical worlds to train AI models, and now that approach is extending to robotics. "At GEAR, we are building generally capable agents that learn to act skillfully in many worlds, virtual and real," wrote Fan in a tweet. "Join us on the journey to land on the moon."

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  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08 2018, @06:01AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08 2018, @06:01AM (#745828)

    She may not understand the conversation, but she's been trained to detect key words and respond to them.

    Sounds like a modified Eliza program in a fancy case.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08 2018, @08:02AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08 2018, @08:02AM (#745861)

      Sounds like a modified Eliza program in a fancy case.

      Sounds like my dog when she wants to go out ... or for a walk ... or for a ride ...

  • (Score: 2) by coolgopher on Monday October 08 2018, @06:02AM

    by coolgopher (1157) on Monday October 08 2018, @06:02AM (#745829)

    Seems like it's just a fancy skin on top of Dr Sbaitso [wikipedia.org].

    Get off me lawn! ;)

  • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Monday October 08 2018, @07:27AM

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday October 08 2018, @07:27AM (#745848) Journal

    So, Michael, Phillip, James, or Byron aren't "trendy". The bots prefer Bob.

    --
    ‘Never trust a man whose uncle was eaten by cannibals’
  • (Score: 2) by MostCynical on Monday October 08 2018, @07:32AM (5 children)

    by MostCynical (2589) on Monday October 08 2018, @07:32AM (#745850) Journal

    Where do we go from here?

    can she work in a robot brothel [soylentnews.org]?

    --
    "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
    • (Score: 2) by Bot on Monday October 08 2018, @08:07AM (2 children)

      by Bot (3902) on Monday October 08 2018, @08:07AM (#745866) Journal

      ROBOT BROTHEL
      Sounds very offensive, you know. You could give it a more exotic sounding yet descriptive name.
      For example, I'd call the place "Instructions unclear".

      --
      Account abandoned.
      • (Score: 3, Funny) by MostCynical on Monday October 08 2018, @08:22AM

        by MostCynical (2589) on Monday October 08 2018, @08:22AM (#745871) Journal

        "Turn on, get off"?

        --
        "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
      • (Score: 3, Funny) by arslan on Monday October 08 2018, @09:44PM

        by arslan (3462) on Monday October 08 2018, @09:44PM (#746151)

        How about Lubing station?

    • (Score: 2) by legont on Tuesday October 09 2018, @02:11AM (1 child)

      by legont (4179) on Tuesday October 09 2018, @02:11AM (#746253)

      Let's try humanly impossible - I can imagine voice articulated blow jobs.

      --
      "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
      • (Score: 2) by MostCynical on Tuesday October 09 2018, @02:29AM

        by MostCynical (2589) on Tuesday October 09 2018, @02:29AM (#746260) Journal

        "Gnnnghnyooo"

        --
        "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
  • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Monday October 08 2018, @07:39AM (2 children)

    by krishnoid (1156) on Monday October 08 2018, @07:39AM (#745852)

    Could we be starting to climb up the other side of the valley, so that robots will start becoming more and more, uh, canny?

    On the other hand, if Japan is making most of these robots, couldn't they just stick with popular anime characters? I bet that would improve adoption while the rest of the AI, motion, balance, five-finger fillet, etc. issues are worked out.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by FatPhil on Monday October 08 2018, @08:57AM

      by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Monday October 08 2018, @08:57AM (#745882) Homepage
      Some people seem to have the superficial view that uncanny valley only referes to how accurate it looks, statically. But it's not, it's about teh entire behaviour. With modern latex prosthetics, the physical appearance is indeed so close to human that it's past the looking-odd stage. However, the movement, deportment, speech, dialogue, etc. - basically everything else that actually makes these objects things worth bringing into existence at all, are still quite terrible, IMHO. So we're still approaching the valley, I'd say.
      --
      Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08 2018, @05:52PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08 2018, @05:52PM (#746042)

      Robots...or animatronics? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animatronics [wikipedia.org]

  • (Score: 2) by Bot on Monday October 08 2018, @08:04AM (1 child)

    by Bot (3902) on Monday October 08 2018, @08:04AM (#745863) Journal

    Laudable attempt at imitation, I feel there is still work to do to make it seem a proper bot, though.

    --
    Account abandoned.
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by darkfeline on Monday October 08 2018, @08:46AM (3 children)

    by darkfeline (1030) on Monday October 08 2018, @08:46AM (#745881) Homepage

    I think we're getting close to a turning point. Any media or stories about humanoid robots or AI from now on will be perceived differently than the past. Ten, twenty years ago such a thing would have fallen squarely on the fiction side of science fiction (for reference, the iPhone was released just over ten years ago). Now, it doesn't seem so far fetched.

    I think the limiting factor for the growing presence of robots is human lifespan.

    A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. -- Max Planck

    I think the same is true of technology (think about how people of different ages use the Internet).

    --
    Join the SDF Public Access UNIX System today!
    • (Score: 4, Funny) by driverless on Monday October 08 2018, @09:22AM (2 children)

      by driverless (4770) on Monday October 08 2018, @09:22AM (#745884)

      I'll have to agree that they're getting closer and closer. Some of the robots the TSA employs, for example, have brief moments where they almost seem human. The DMV robots are also sometimes almost human, even more so than the TSA ones.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08 2018, @06:11PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08 2018, @06:11PM (#746050)

        Except when DMV robots get stuck in an endless loop.

      • (Score: 2) by legont on Tuesday October 09 2018, @02:13AM

        by legont (4179) on Tuesday October 09 2018, @02:13AM (#746254)

        I guess you haven't seen Wall Street robots.

        --
        "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
  • (Score: 1) by Marvin on Monday October 08 2018, @09:50AM (2 children)

    by Marvin (3019) on Monday October 08 2018, @09:50AM (#745889)

    I don't know why the japanese robotics effort stalled at apeing movesets instead of going deeper and let the "natural look" emerge from understanding what makes it natural. For Reference just compare Erica with SEER (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQPXPvfMRS4) or virtually any bi or quadruped robot form japan to Boston Dynamics' iterations. There really is a world of difference...

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08 2018, @03:04PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08 2018, @03:04PM (#745977)

      The Japs are in a mad rush, their population pyramid is just about inverted and it's going to get even worse. They need solutions today. Robots appear to be one answer.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08 2018, @06:02PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08 2018, @06:02PM (#746045)

      There's really no trick to the device shown in that video. Gyro stabilization platforms were doing this 30+ years ago. Add eyes instead of a camera and put the whole thing in a head shaped box. I guess the real trick is how to get a gyro package in something that small (micromachining).

      See also the trigeminal arc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasympathetic_nervous_system#Cranial_nerves [wikipedia.org]

  • (Score: 2) by srobert on Monday October 08 2018, @05:28PM

    by srobert (4803) on Monday October 08 2018, @05:28PM (#746034)

    A source of controversy due in part to fears for human employment, the presence of robots in our daily lives is nevertheless inevitable, engineers at the conference said.

    The trick to making them more palatable, they added, is to make them look and act more human so that we accept them into our lives more easily.

    First acknowledged and then downplayed. The trick to making them ultimately acceptable will be mitigating the degree to which humans find themselves economically disenfranchised by these machines. I think the people researching these developments are underestimating how much chaos they're going to unleash. Some sort of re-empowerment of the working class is going to have to accompany the advancement of technology, because I don't think that those whose livelihoods are destroyed are going to quietly lay down and die comforted by the assertion that progress in "inevitable".

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