Medical Robotics

Are we lazy?

Posted 19 Jun 2003 at 03:23 UTC by The Swirling Brain Share This

An article by Guardian Unlimited seems to say that we have Technology for no good reason. Perhaps, we have gotten comfortable or lazy and we have much more technology than we need. We watch wars on TV, robot wars on TV, and even reality shows and soaps on TV and we hardly lift a finger to do things ourselves anymore like they did decades ago. I mean, how many robot builders have a dream of building a robot that can fetch a drink (read beer) from the refridgerator. Are we lazy? Perhaps we have arrived in the George Jetson age and are bound to get button finger.

The Engelberger Paradox, posted 19 Jun 2003 at 05:33 UTC by ROB.T. » (Master)

I was going to go into a tirade about if creating robotic vacuum machines is a waste of time then how well could reading an article in the Guardian Unlimited rate - when I clicked on the George Jetson article and read about how the Big J.E. was ``looking for somebody to bankroll his vision of a robot that could serve as a companion and caregiver for the elderly and infirm''

What the hell?!?

It just seems to me that this whatever-became-of-robotics-research article posted a while back on this very site kinda contradicted the Jetson article.

So if someone can explain this paradox, help me out because I took some pretty hard knocks when the Father of Robotics decided that the meager contribution that I was trying my VERY BEST to make towards mobile robotics wasn't good enough.

automation, posted 19 Jun 2003 at 06:32 UTC by motters » (Master)

I'd agree with the "whatever happened" article. I've worked in industrial automation for a long time and I know there are some well known robotics companies (I won't mention them) who have a captive market and have fallen into lethargy, doing little or no R&D in the last decade.

There is also a lot more D to be done than R. Most researchers focus narrowly on solving specific problems such as navigation, speech recognition, and so on, but I see the main problems in robotics as integrative - bringing together all the specialised sub-systems into a useful robotic package.

The other article is right in that you've got to look at robotics from a cost-benefit point of view. People like care workers are expensive to employ and the health services are constantly lurching from one financial crisis to the next, so if someone could build a robot that could do some basic helpful tasks for the old or infirm then a lot of money stands to be made.

I wouldn't call it laziness... I would call it..., posted 19 Jun 2003 at 09:49 UTC by Timster » (Master)

I would call it time and technology management.

In my diary entry yesterday I was discussing VIA's thinking which directly addresses issue... if your interested its below.

I thought I would take a moment to reveal a little about VIA robotics strategy. We see beyond the industrial, health and saftey and military uses for robots a future commercial use that I would say a few other companies are probably positioning themselves for as well. That use is for the robot as your single point of contact personal technology manager, assistant and filter. We have a concept internally known as "Technology Spam" whereby added to the communications spam we know today there will be hardware spam (too many devices or "intelligent nodes" as William Gibson calls them), mulitimedia spam (too many movies, music, sports etc) and while we will want to use all of these technologies, we wouldn't want to be continually interacting with them.

An intelligent device that with some adjustable preset configurations or could act as the intermediary between you and your technology so you can use it effectively and also separate yourself from it.

Stupid AI is holding Robotics back, posted 19 Jun 2003 at 13:49 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

I thought ROB T's article he pointed out hit the nail on the head. It's like robot builders are just enamored or slaves to only tweeking the physical aspects of a robot and perhaps go no further than just finding a new means of locomotion. Why are we satisfied with that? I see a new robot all the time get "cool" points just because it can scamper in a new way. However, no one really seems to look at the robot's intelligence factor because we've come to the point where we know robots only get so smart and then stop. Ok, yeah sure, people make some grunting noises at a bigger CPU and more memory, but that's still not fixing the problem.

Probably the thing about robotics is that it won't really make advancements until that stupid thing called AI grows up. When that happens, robots will make a leap and people will all be trying to catch up and drawn to robots like moths to a bug zapper. But for now, seeing a robot that can dance Tai Chi or do some uninteresting stuff like bounce email back and forth that computers have done for ages, as cool as it may be doesn't really keep anyone excited for long. But once robots begin to get brighter on their own and come out of the dark ages, that's when robotics will have its day in the sun. So to speak. That's when robots will become more useful too.

Some articles to ponder...

They try to Fool you into believing it's AI, posted 19 Jun 2003 at 14:08 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

Have you noticed real AI is so hard to do that instead of creating AI, robot builders will go the extra mile and try to fool you into thinking what they've done is AI. Take the Honda Asimo robot that waves for an example. Now the robot is a masterful piece of work, for sure, but is that hand waving motion just a direct programmed thing to do or did the robot think to do that? Well, that's what's funny about robotics. Robot builders program a hand wave or other things like that, and entertaining as they may be like dance with the robot doing Tai Chi or parsing email, it's not AI. It's like the fake WOW factor for robotics. "Look, my robot is so smart it can do X!" So until a robot actually thinks to wave its hand or send email or really learns to dance (not just programmed to dance), is it really AI or is it just a direct program. It's like these special robot builders try to fool you into believing it's real AI when it's not.

Actually..., posted 19 Jun 2003 at 14:52 UTC by earlwb » (Master)

Decades ago and currently, if you need a drink from the refridgerator you get your kid to fetch it for you. No fuss no mess. My son does an excellent job, he even knows to get a different one if the first choice request is out, or ask if the choices are bad. You can't program a robot to do that yet, maybe in 50 years.

Need your yard mowed, that's what your kids are for. Need your car washed, get your kid to do it. Need the garage cleaned out, guess who does that? When my kid turns 16, guess who's driving me around? Sure it's for experience, that's what I'll say. :)

Of course my dog can't be beat for fetching the newspaper and slippers. Almost no training at all was needed.

MOBILE ROBOTICS FOR LIFE, posted 22 Jun 2003 at 04:08 UTC by ROB.T. » (Master)

Earl, kids grow up and move away, robots are forever!

Swirl I agree with you about the hype, and it seems big universities and big corporations are all about hype. But let me point out that Engelberger was at first panning the non-industrial robotics industry, and then he comes back around and joins it with elderly research.

Personally I think there is a tremendous amount to yet be discovered. Yeah, AI is going to have to grow up, or computers are going to have to learn to emulate intelligence, but that is only one (major) piece of the puzzle. Where are the better crawling robots, the wing-beating flyers, the fast swimmers? A lot of that is mechanical and controls systems with very little intelligence which I feel is still within grasp.

Maybe so....but ..., posted 24 Jun 2003 at 18:28 UTC by earlwb » (Master)

But if we get real AI learning robots, then they'll start to evolve too. Hummm....shades of Terminator or Matrix comes to mind...:)

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