National Geographic has a new article on robots that takes a look at efforts to make robots more human. As always National Geographic includes lots of cool photos. The article covers a range of robots you've probably heard about before including Actroids, HERB, CMU's Snackbot, Geminoid DK, Elfoid, Robovie, and others. The photo gallery even includes a shot of Hanson Robotic's Bina android, which you may remember seeing under construction when we visited David's lab a while back. These robots are all involved in research to solve some of the basic problems of social interaction with humans:
"Humans can draw on a vast unconscious vocabulary of movements—we know how to politely move around someone in our path, how to sense when we're invading someone's personal space. Studies at Carnegie Mellon and elsewhere have shown that people expect social robots to follow the same rules. We get uncomfortable when they don't or when they make stupid mistakes."
The usual questions of ethics and morals are raised: Is it ethical to make humanoid robots? Are sufficiently human-like social robots worthy of the same moral considerations we grant our meat-based friends? Can military robot endowed with ethical programming make life or death battle decisions? No answers are to be found, of course, but it's a good read. Check it out online or look for the August issue of National Geographic magazine, on newsstands now.
Photo © Max Aguilera-Hellweg/National Geographic, used with permission