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