by November 2, 2007 0 comments

During the past few months a new software robot was in news, which could
understand jokes. Developed at the University of Cincinnati, this ‘bot’ is a
small example of sociable computing. Its researchers say that bots like this one
can bring a sense of humor to physical robots like Honda’s ASIMO, which can act
as human companions.

This genre of robots are known as ‘Affective Systems’, but you’ll be
surpirsed to know that they have been around for decades. These systens can
recognize and respond to human voice and display emotions such as happiness,
anger, etc. Similar to this was Philips iCat, which was once the most talked
about commercial smart companion. Unfortunately, it met with limited success,
but it could generate many facial expressions and recognize objects and faces
with a camera installed on its head.

The best commercial robot I have ever seen was Sony’s AIBO. It could do all
sorts of things from checking email, obeying the owner’s instructions to even
playing football. Sadly there weren’t many takers for it, and Sony suffered huge
losses. As a result, it went out of production. Since then we haven’t seen any
appealing commercial AI robots.

Swapnil Arora
Issue Editor for
this month

Another robot considered to be emotionally intelligent was developed at MIT
sometime back-the sociable humanoid known as Kismet. For running it required 15
networked computers, out of which nine machines were used to control its vision
processing, eyes, neck, etc. It was however able to figure out human emotions
and required a caretaker to learn new things.

As I was about to write this, I saw another piece of news that said that in
the future, marriages between humans and robots (androids) would also be
possible and AI would be used to ensure they both understand each other. Not
much information about this is available and whether researchers have done
anything more practical on this or not is still a matter of speculation. The
worst part is that researchers themselves don’t understand why a human would
like to do something like this. Well, I would like to ask them why are they
wasting time on this research if they don’t know what it’s for. I mean they
could spend all their precious resources in solving some of the real problems in
the world.

God knows what future is going to shape up to be, but something like this at
this moment definitely seems odd, especially when even a decent usable
commercial AI robot seems far away from reality. It’s been long said that robots
will be able to learn emotions from humans, both right and wrong. As this
Emotional Intelligence evolves further, robots could even learn to fake their
emotions and things could possibly go on as far you can stretch your
imagination. All said and done, most of this area remains in research, so it
seems like it’ll gonna be a while before smart companion becomes a reality.

Lastly, our Technology expert, Sanjay Majumder, has moved on within the
organization. I wish him all the best for future. We’re gonna miss you Sanju!

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