Tag: Robots

Your Child’s New Robot buddy Makes Reading A Lot More Fun

Children are more enthusiastic about reading aloud when they do so to a specially designed robot, psychologists have found.

A team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison built the robot, named Minnie, as a “reading buddy” to children aged 10 to 12.

Over two weeks children became more excited about books and attached to the robot. “After one interaction the kids were generally telling us that it was nice to have someone to read with,” Joseph Michaelis, who led the study, said.




By the end of two weeks they’re talking about how the robot was funny and silly and how they’d come home looking forward to seeing it.”

The research, published in the journal Science Robotics, is the latest in the effort to design machines that may augment learning or provide companionship.

In America, a robot with artificial intelligence acts as a “social mediator” for autistic children, allowing them to communicate with the wider world.

Minnie stayed with study subjects for two weeks.

Minnie, which is 33cm (13in) high, tracked the children’s progress in reading and every few pages reacted with a programmed comment. During a frightening chapter, for instance, it could say: “Oh, wow, I’m really scared.”

It also recommended books, taking into account ability and interests, and most said that it made good choices.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

This Tiny Robot Walks, Crawls, Jumps And Swims. But It Is Not Alive.

Researchers in Germany have developed a robot that is about a seventh of an inch long and looks at first like no more than a tiny strip of something rubbery. Then it starts moving.

The robot walks, jumps, crawls, rolls and swims. It even climbs out of the pool, moving from a watery environment into a dry one.

The robot prototype is small enough to move around in a stomach or urinary system, said Metin Sitti, head of the physical intelligence department at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany, who led the research team.

The robot hasn’t been tested in humans yet, but the goal is to improve it for medical use — for instance, delivering drugs to a target within the body.




What is most unusual about the research, Dr. Sitti said, is that such a “minimalist robot” can achieve “all different type of motion possibilities to navigate in complex environments.

Leif Ristroph, a mathematician at New York University’s Courant Institute who developed a small flying robot that mimics the motion of jellyfish, wrote in an email: “The array of behaviours and capabilities is certainly impressive and sets this robot apart from most others.”

These critters are very cute!” he said. “Love how the authors put the little guy through mini-obstacle courses.

My other thought is that the pilot, who we don’t see, is also quite impressive,” added Dr. Ristroph, who was not involved in the research.

Clearly whoever is controlling the magnetic fields has gained some hard-earned intuition and fine skills based on a lot of experience and trial-and-error.

The research was reported Wednesday in the journal Nature. Below are excerpts from a telephone conversation with Dr. Sitti. They have been edited for length and clarity.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Meet Your Future Robot Overlords

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Robots no longer live in science fiction. They’re all around us. Right now. Let’s look at the current most advanced robots and see where things might go in the future.

From their first mention in a Czech play to Elon Musk’s “alien dreadnought” automated factory, robots have been slowly becoming a huge part of our lives.

The types of robots include:
Industrial/Warehouse Robots
Service/Companion Robots
Military Robots
Exploratory Robots

Industrial robots include AMRs, which automate products around a warehouse floor.

Service and Companion robots include Asimo from Honda, Romeo and Pepper from SoftRobotics, and Milo, a robot for autistic kids.

Military Robots are usually funded by DARPA and include the Atlas and Spotmini from Boston Dynamics

Exploratory robots include NASA space probes including the Curiosity Rover.

The Myths Of Robots: They Are Strong, Smart And Evil

Some of today’s top techies and scientists are very publicly expressing their concerns over apocalyptic scenarios that are likely to arise as a result of machines with motives.

Among the fearful are intellectual heavyweights like Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates, who all believe that advances in the field of machine learning will soon yield self-aware A.I.s that seek to destroy us.

Or perhaps just apathetically dispose of us, much like scum getting obliterated by a windshield wiper.

In fact, Dr. Hawking told the BBC, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”




Indeed, there is little doubt that future A.I. will be capable of doing significant damage.

For example, it is conceivable that robots could be programmed to function as tremendously dangerous autonomous weapons unlike any seen before.

Additionally, it is easy to imagine an unconstrained software application that spreads throughout the Internet, severely mucking up our most efficient and relied upon medium for global exchange.

But these scenarios are categorically different from ones in which machines decide to turn on us, defeat us, make us their slaves, or exterminate us.

In this regard, we are unquestionably safe. On a sadder note, we are just as unlikely to someday have robots that decide to befriend us or show us love without being specifically prompted by instructions to do so.

This is because such intentional behavior from an A.I. would undoubtedly require a mind, as intentionality can only arise when something possesses its own beliefs, desires, and motivations.

The type of A.I. that includes these features is known amongst the scientific community as “Strong Artificial Intelligence”. Strong A.I., by definition, should possess the full range of human cognitive abilities.

This includes self-awareness, sentience, and consciousness, as these are all features of human cognition.

On the other hand, “Weak Artificial Intelligence” refers to non-sentient A.I. The Weak A.I. Hypothesis states that our robots—which run on digital computer programs—can have no conscious states, no mind, no subjective awareness, and no agency.

Such A.I. cannot experience the world qualitatively, and although they may exhibit seemingly intelligent behavior, it is forever limited by the lack of a mind.

A failure to recognize the importance of this strong/weak distinction could be contributing to Hawking and Musk’s existential worries, both of whom believe that we are already well on a path toward developing Strong A.I.

To them it is not a matter of “if”, but “when”.

But the fact of the matter is that all current A.I. is fundamentally Weak A.I., and this is reflected by today’s computers’ total absence of any intentional behavior whatsoever.

Although there are some very complex and relatively convincing robots out there that appear to be alive, upon closer examination they all reveal themselves to be as motiveless as the common pocket calculator.

This is because brains and computers work very differently. Both compute, but only one understands—and there are some very compelling reasons to believe that this is not going to change.

It appears that there is a more technical obstacle that stands in the way of Strong A.I. ever becoming a reality.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Boston Dynamics Unveils Stunning Robot That Can Run, Jump And Execute The Perfect Backflip

Boston Dynamics’ humanoid robot can execute a perfect backflip.

Atlas, which can also keep its balance when it’s pushed and get back up if it falls over, can now perform impressive gymnastic moves.

Boston Dynamics has just released footage of the machine’s latest trick, and viewers are both impressed and concerned.

As well as being able to jump from block to block and turn 180-degrees in mid-air, Atlas can do a backflip and land securely on its feet.




Like a human, it even lifts its arms in the air as if to celebrate, though this may also help it balance.

However, as the final part of the clip shows, it can’t always pull the move off successfully.

Atlas’ control system coordinates motions of the arms, torso and legs to achieve whole-body mobile manipulation, greatly expanding its reach and workspace,” says Boston Dynamics.

Atlas’ ability to balance while performing tasks allows it to work in a large volume while occupying only a small footprint.

The Atlas hardware takes advantage of 3D printing to save weight and space, resulting in a remarkable compact robot with high strength-to-weight ratio and a dramatically large workspace.

Stereo vision, range sensing and other sensors give Atlas the ability to manipulate objects in its environment and to travel on rough terrain.”

Atlas stands at 1.5m tall, weighs 75kg and has 28 joints in its body.

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Pass it on: New Scientist