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Robotics Social Networks

Advanced Social Skills For Humanoid Robots 92

Posted by kdawson
from the attention-in-the-uncanny-valley dept.
Lanxon writes "A pan-European team of robotics researchers began a project this year that could see humanoid bots interact with groups of people in a realistic, anthropomorphic way for the first time. The 'humanoids with auditory and visual abilities in populated spaces' (HUMAVIPS) project has the ambitious goal of making humanoid bots just a bit more human by building algorithms that will enable bots to mimic what psychologists call the 'cocktail party effect' — the human ability to focus attention on just one person in the midst of other people, voices and background noise."
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Advanced Social Skills For Humanoid Robots

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @02:32AM (#31153006)

    soon robots will have better social skills than I do?

    • Only if they are loaded with oxytocin.

    • by goldaryn (834427)

      soon robots will have better social skills than I do?

      You could be it's wingman at cocktail parties

    • You posting as AC proves that they already have better social skills than you.

    • by niftyguy (1745152)
      Also dance better, play violin better, and cook better.

      But we'll still have the market cornered on pooping.
    • by syousef (465911)

      soon robots will have better social skills than I do?

      Exteeerrrmiiinnnnatteeeee! Exteeerrrmiiinnnnatteeeee!

    • You'll feel even more inadequate when they pass the Turing test you've repeatedly failed.

    • Is it really a necessity for my future sexbot to have social skills? I'm sure there'll be a 'conversationalist bot' when the need calls for one.
      • by mrzaph0d (25646)

        well, you don't want to fall into the habit of having too many bots. i mean one for telling time, one for making phone calls, one for reading. you want one robot that does it all, and you want it to do it all well. what if you're in an orgy and after awhile everyone's tired and just want to talk about politics? you'll sure be glad you have a "all-in-one" bot instead of wishing you'd brought your "coversationalist bot."

        hm. an all-in-one bot at an orgy. may not be the best idea after all.

    • by S77IM (1371931)

      When you welcome your new overlords, they will graciously thank you for your hospitality.

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Sure, you're joking... but I actually don't like to be in crowds for precisely that reason; I have no filters, I try to follow every conversation simultaneously and inevitably fail. I can't even parse what the television is saying if someone else is carrying on a conversation in the same room. Locking onto one audio stream and ignoring all others is a non-trivial skill; I wish our charismatic robotic overlords good luck in this endeavor.
  • In Star Wars, we are introduced to two primary types of robots. One is a protocol droid, the other is much more utilitarian (a mechanical JS Mill, if you will). The protocol droid is almost completely useless. It is insecure, fragile, and clumsy. The utility droid is clever, handy, and quick.

    Why are we working so hard on creating protocol droids when utility droids are so much better?

    • by FooAtWFU (699187)

      The people who are interested in buying protocol droids have oodles of money to spend on shinies. The people who are interested in buying "utility droids" either a) already have some (car factory robots), though they're usually less mobile, or b) can just hire cheap labor in Asia instead.

      • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @03:00AM (#31153148)

        That's not true. Sometimes it is necessary to have a droid who understands the binary language of moisture vaporators. That's something even poor moisture farmers need.

        • Not everybody has a nephew hanging around to put restraining bolts on the droids and argue with them. And even if they did it might not work out well. If I was to buy a robot to help my elderly mother it would have to be able to communicate with her, because she definitely isn't going to communicate with a R2 unit. Two days ago I tried to set up a new mobile phone for her but she didn't like the SMS interface (apparently Nokia phones "just know" what she wants to type) so she kept the old one.

          • by rgravina (520410)

            She's talking about the predictive text feature.

        • by daveime (1253762)

          Tell him to make sure it speaks Bocce.

    • by Rennt (582550)

      C3PO was an android, R2D2 was an astromech. This explains everything.

      Androids can never be more then imperfect imitations of people. Robots controlled by a strong AI are MUCH more interesting.

    • Yeah, because Star Wars perfectly resembles... no IS... reality, and everything in it is completely true!

      How about climbing out of your Star Wars bed, in your Star Wars themed basement, and going outside? Without the Darth Vader mask! ;)

      • by gmhowell (26755)

        How about climbing out of your Star Wars bed, in your Star Wars themed basement, and going outside? Without the Darth Vader mask! ;)

        But you'll die without your mask!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Gamer_2k4 (1030634)

      Why are we working so hard on creating protocol droids when utility droids are so much better?

      Except that a protocol droid IS a utility droid under the right circumstances. C-3PO knows "over six million forms of communication"; that's extremely useful for diplomats, foreign exchange students, travelers, etc., etc., etc. Not everyone needs a garbage can that can plug into their computer and display low-res holograms. Heck, C-3PO was needed most of the time so that people could understand just what in the world your "clever, handy, and quick" droid was trying to do or say. For a more relevant exam

      • let's say that R2-D2 is a Linux computer C-3PO is a Mac. Tons of people still use the latter, don't they?

        It's pretty mean to bring up the weight problems of Linux users.

      • by daveime (1253762)

        C-3PO is a Mac

        Lying unfinished in a mudhut for years, with only one eye when everyone else's droids already had two, but ended up looking very gold and shiny at the end of the movie ?

    • We are trying to create Rommie from Andromeda - hubba hubba!

  • by Zoxed (676559) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @02:47AM (#31153084) Homepage

    > Advanced Social Skills For Humanoid Robots
    > ...
    > team of robotics researchers ...

    That story should be tagged "what-could-possibly-go-wrong" ;-)

  • Knowing the average nerd has no social skill, how about making those cocktail-party-robots trainers for us nerds ? Think about it. Personal Social Home Trainer. Now with opposite-sex-target-locking mode.
  • by hedgemage (934558) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @04:01AM (#31153406)
    What about advanced social skills for MEEEEEEEEEEE?
  • Can we use this technology on brain implants?
  • let me then be first to welcome our social skilled robotic overlords
  • John Connor: No, no, no, no. You gotta listen to the way people talk. You don't say "affirmative", or some shit like that. You say "no problemo". And if someone comes on to you with an attitude you say "eat me". And if you want to shine them on it's "hasta la vista, baby".

    The Terminator: Hasta la vista, baby.

  • by Lord Bitman (95493) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @04:55AM (#31153592) Homepage

    focusing on one person in a crowded room, being able to hear what one person is saying despite a lot of other talking and background noise I don't care about? I don't have that super-power, where do I sign up?

  • by tomalpha (746163) * on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @05:38AM (#31153730)

    I think the small part of my brain that handles irony just segfaulted

    • I think the small part of my brain that handles irony just segfaulted

      If you're at a cocktail party and need to take a core dump, it is considered good manners to excuse yourself, explain where you are going but not in any great detail what you are doing there, and then taking said core dump in private.

      In other words:
      printf("Sorry, I'll have to go to the bathroom\n");
      while(not at_bathroom()) move_to_bathroom();
      mutex_lock(bathroom_door); // TODO: skip the wait queue?
      char *p = 0; *p = 0; // FEATURE: dumps core
      mutex_unlock(bathroom_door); // BUG: never reached
      return;

  • Hello, real world! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Just checked through the research proposal (not much info, sadly), and am both disappointed and pleased.

    First of all, there is almost nothing new on what the researchers want to do there.
    Cocktail party problem has been described and aimed at a gazilion times, and many groups have been dealing with that kinds of problems, even in the context of robotics (see work at Honda in Germany).
    Already at the end of the 90s, people at MIT people were already researching in attention systems.

    On the other hand, finally r

  • ... "the human ability to focus attention on just one person in the midst of other people, voices and background noise."

    I don't think this is a strictly "human" trait. My dog doesn't have a problem listening to me over other people calling his name at the same time. Whether he can partake in the utter waste of time called "small talk" is still, however, unknown to me.

  • by RealErmine (621439) <commerce AT wordhole DOT net> on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @09:01AM (#31154598)

    From TFA:

    NAO comes with a 500MHz CPU, although an improved head with double the computing power is expected before the end of the year.

    At least they are smart enough to put the CPU in the head. This makes the robot easier to disable once it starts using its new-found social skills to ask about the location of Sarah Connor.

  • "to focus attention on just one person in the midst of other people, voices and background noise."

    They want a computer algorithm that can single out a specific voice in a crowded area and convert it to a text feed...

    Who thinks this will be of more interest to the intelligence community than the we-just-want-to-build-a-friendlier-robot comunity?

  • ...welcome our extraordinarily congenial overlords.
  • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @11:23AM (#31156056)

    "Welcome, stranger."
    "Oh, hi."
    "What are ya buyin'?"
    "Nothin'."
    "What are ya sellin'?"
    "Nothin'."
    "Come back anytime."
    "Oh, OK."
    "Welcome, stranger."
    "Aaah!"

    • by Nathrael (1251426)
      I don't usually do posts like this, but...

      Sir, you just made my day. It's a shame I don't have any mod points right now.
  • This is not the first example of this and the article is factually wrong. There is on they have been working on in Hollywood for quite a while that was featured on Scientific America on PBS.

    Ruben

An inclined plane is a slope up. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

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