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Could You Fall In Love With This Robot? (cnbc.com) 127

Hanson Robotics and Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories are working on developing the most humanlike robots on the planet. While they may appear creepy, many roboticists believe they are key for humans and super-intelligent machines to coexist. Sophia is the most intelligent and lifelike android the team is working on. She can reply to basic questions and comments and she will even tell you when she was activated if asked. The most "creepy" element about her is the fact that she has lifelike skin crafted with patented silicon that can emulate more than 62 facial expressions. Cameras in her "eyes" work with computer algorithms that allow her to "see," track faces, make eye contact and recognize individuals. Google Chrome voice-recognition technology along with some other tools enable Sophia to process speech, talk and get smarter over time. "Our goal is that she will be as conscious, creative and capable as any human," said Hanson, CEO of Hanson Robotics. "We are designing these robots to serve in health care, therapy, education and customer service applications."
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Could You Fall In Love With This Robot?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...linux?
  • She needs a new hair style.
  • Perverted^W Inquiring minds want to know.

  • I mean, I'd REALLY like a sex bot, it'd massively improve my life. But I cried when Spirit kicked the bucket. So, machine empathy is already pretty well covered. >_>
  • by Zero__Kelvin ( 151819 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @04:47PM (#51733357) Homepage

    Our goal is that she will be as conscious, creative and capable as any human

    At first I thought this sounded ridiculous and then I remembered my last walk through Wal-Mart. Certainly not any human, but many isn't as far fetched as I was originally thinking.

    • You were probably going for Funny, but if you think the difference between you and those people is significant (and insurmountable) for developing AI, you are arrogantly mistaken.

      We're not as special as we think we are.

  • The pictures in those article are as close as anything to true evidence of an uncanny valley.
    • I don't see the point. Other than that Japan is a seriously humanoid robot obsessed country that should get back on their meds. A robot should do work, making it as human-like as possible is just not very useful and slows down robotic research. These are just better grades of mannequins.

      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        Japan has an aging population. They want humanoid robots to take care of the old people and make them feel loved while all the working age people are at work trying to pay for it all.

      • There are some niches where a humanoid form brings an advantage. Face excepted, it's a good shape in any building - stairs, lifts, doors, hallways etc are all designed for human occupation, so a robot with the same shape would be able to get around easily without needing to replace all the stairs with dalek-friendly ramps.

        • by Rei ( 128717 )

          Okay... now I can't get the image out of my head of a helper robot that looks like the one in the video, being all nice and helpful and smiling, but the only word she knows is "exterminate".

      • If the work is sex work, making it as human-like as possible is very useful. If it's any sort of work such that it needs to not be obtrusive around humans, making it look human is useful.

    • That thing isn't even remotely close to human looking; it evokes absolutely no "uncanny valley" feeling for me. It has (poorly resolved, far too slow, inaccurate) expressions, inaccurate voice/mouth synch, eyes that look, at best, as if you're talking to a heroin addict, and moves in jerky, uneven steps.

      I look forward to a robot I can't tell from a human. Even just in simple conversation. But holding my breath based on that thing, I'm not, nor does the video in any way make me feel like I'm actually witness

  • "That can really help to prevent some of the disconnect and possible dangers of developing superintelligent or human-level machines that don't care," he said.

    Nope.

  • As long as the robot is more conscious, more capable and more creative than that tribe of genetic sludge I am all for robotics.
  • Customer Service (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spauldo ( 118058 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @05:23PM (#51733517)

    You want to replace factory workers with robots? Sure, sounds great. It's worked well for the automotive industry, among others.

    You want to replace the secretary pool and filing clerks with computers? Already happened, worked out just fine.

    Simple tasks, such as replacing the greasy dude behind the counter at the local burger joint with a touchscreen ordering system? OK, I can see the use in that.

    But stop replacing customer service positions with computers. People know how to interact with people. When we get a "friendly AI" on the phone, it's usually an exercise in frustration. It won't fair any better in meatspace. If I wanted my bank teller to be a robot, I'd just use the #**$ing ATM.

    • If I wanted my bank teller to be a robot, I'd just use the #**$ing ATM.

      You're lucky, the ATMs here only allow us to deposit or withdraw cash, pay invoices, etc. You're lucky to have ATMs that can also fuck. How did they solve the hygiene and privacy problems?

      • by spauldo ( 118058 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @05:54PM (#51733693)

        Not all ATMs have the service, and the service isn't available all the time.

        Just look for the ATMs near the scantily clad loiterers at night. Use the ATM to withdraw cash, then hand it to the woman in the corset and fishnet stockings standing nearby. The better ones are self-cleaning and offer better privacy than the alley around the corner.

    • But stop replacing customer service positions with computers. People know how to interact with people. When we get a "friendly AI" on the phone, it's usually an exercise in frustration. It won't fair any better in meatspace.

      That's what people want, but how much are they willing to pay for it? The reason customer service is so bad is because people aren't willing to pay for it.

      • The reason customer service is so bad is because people aren't willing to pay for it.

        That's because there's often no clear choice to make. It's not like companies will tell you what kind of lousy customer service you'll get.

        • If people started moving away from companies with bad customer service, then they would start to change.

          The reality is, for me, I'm usually not willing to pay extra for customer service because it's worth suffering once every few years (I rarely call customer support) in exchange for paying less money.
      • by spauldo ( 118058 )

        It's not about the public being willing to pay for it. The public doesn't get the choice.

        Eliminating customer service personnel is a cost cutting measure. That's the real reason why banks are generally closing branch offices and pushing online banking. That's also why you either get a robot or some person with an indecipherable hindi accent when you call tech support. Do they ask the customers if they're willing to pay extra for these things? Generally, no.

        It's not about customer choice, it's about eco

        • Do they ask the customers if they're willing to pay extra for these things? Generally, no.

          Sometimes they do, yes. Haven't you ever heard of a customer satisfaction survey?
          When a company cuts costs by reducing customer service quality, and you don't quit their service, then you just voted with your wallet. Of course, you're not the only 'voter,' and in general Americans are not willing to pay for better customer service.

    • Of course, it's better to have a real person at the other end of the line, or in the service window. But the experiences like ATT's robot tech-support answering service will become more the norm -- usually irritating, annoying, and frustrating, but "good enough" .. and far cheaper than hiring people for the job. Shareholder value trumps customer service and employee morale.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      But stop replacing customer service positions with computers. People know how to interact with people. When we get a "friendly AI" on the phone, it's usually an exercise in frustration. It won't fair any better in meatspace. If I wanted my bank teller to be a robot, I'd just use the #**$ing ATM.

      I'm guessing you're somewhat like me, when you contact customer support it's because the answer isn't on the screen. There's no such option in the menus and the FAQ doesn't list the answer to your question. Roughly 99,9% of the time when I call customer service, I need an actual live person. But if you've ever worked first line help desk, the unfiltered common sense of the general public you'll know we're a rare breed. I've kinda accepted that the companies I deal with need to have an idiot filter to keep s

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        That's why I like email for support. The support people can copy/paste standard responses for common issues, and when I ask something specific I get a detailed written answer that I can refer back to later. Spideroak does support that way and it's excellent, one of the best I've ever seen from a company.

    • Simple tasks, such as replacing the greasy dude behind the counter at the local burger joint with a touchscreen ordering system? OK, I can see the use in that.

      http://www.businessinsider.com... [businessinsider.com]

  • It is a lump of metal and plastic, or hadn't you noticed?
  • www.realdoll.com has better-looking full-size masturbators.

  • Anyone who is making highly accurate robotic replicas of humans should at least have the common decency to model them after a giant Austrian bodybuilder. Alternatively- if they make sexbots- so long as someone in rainy Los Angeles lets me hunt them down with a revolver while wearing an overcoat, then I would also be satisfied.
  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Saturday March 19, 2016 @05:43PM (#51733629) Homepage Journal

    Forget robot brains. Give crippled humans remote use of android bodies, and make them telepresence devices.

    Regarding taking away jobs, for a long time I've had the feeling that it's not ethical to make a human do a job that a machine can do. Unfortunately, our society is poorly fit to that idea, plutocracy is not a path to a post-scarcity society, but to more plutocracy.

    • Why tele-presence when this technology can be adapted to produce lifelike "carriages" for the person? We've seen something like this already with those powered leg braces that can allow paraplegics to walk. If there is a technology for a person to control limbs with a brain implant, twitching of muscles that they do have control over, or whatever, then have the robot carry the person along rather than have them control from afar.

      Not only do I believe this to be more healthy for the person, barring things

    • Forget robot brains. Give crippled humans remote use of android bodies, and make them telepresence devices.

      That's likely to happen sooner than AI

  • Autism and robots (Score:3, Interesting)

    by trickyb ( 1092495 ) * on Saturday March 19, 2016 @05:59PM (#51733727)
    There's interesting work going on at the moment to have robots with facial expressions interact with Autism Spectrum Disorder kids. In a nutshell, sometimes these kids find staring at a real human overwhelming, but a robot is ok, so a robot that can cycle through facial expressions is useful to allow these kids to learn "happy", "angry", "sad" faces and so on.
    I wondered if this human-like robot would be too life-like for such an application - and TFA seems to confirm it.
    Which might lead to interesting research into what degree of "lifelike-iness" is enough to block ASD kids from staring at a face. Or and even which specific facial features trigger the mental block.
  • Machines can play better backgammon than us. It's hard to know exactly when that happened, but it was somewhere between 1979 (BKG 9.8) and 1992 (TD-Gammon). Machines can play better chess than us, shaking our confidence in 1997 when Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov. They can play better Jeopardy! than us, which Watson did in 2008. Lots of people ignore this achievement now by dismissing Jeopardy as a buzzer relay, but I was shocked by Watson's first correct answer, and then shocked again by its first incorrect

    • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

      The last of us will be little more than pathetic cat ladies.

      ...so what's the problem?

      Why do you think humans in general have to keep existing, so long as you keep existing?

      I'm going to be dead in 50 years, most likely, and I really, really don't care what the rest of you get up to, or don't, once my nipples go terminally north. You want to hump robots, good luck to ya. :)

      • by dAzED1 ( 33635 )
        Planet is overpopulated anyway. And if the humanity that remains 100 years from now is so stupid it would have watered plants with gatorade, maybe it won't be so bad for robots to be running everything for them.
  • She can reply to basic questions and comments and she will even...

    Yes?

    ...tell you when she was activated if asked.

    Oh. That was a lot less interesting than the word "even" suggested it was going to be.

  • Could I fall in love with that? Hell no, but make it look like a cute 19-year old and we'll see.

    At least make it an attractive robot instead of this creepy mommy-bot.

  • I guess one reason to develop these robots is "because we can". Fair enough.

    But let's not hold out hope that we can program really hot babes to love us or servile sycophants to be our willing servants. The second these robots get good enough to be very similar to humans, they will be given human rights, and programming them in a way they don't agree with will be seen as invasive as rape. Damn.

  • Try her lips (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pubwvj ( 1045960 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @07:15PM (#51734121)

    If you want really weird, try lip reading what she's saying. I can't hear her and when I lip read her face I get nonsense. Very fast nonsense.

    • Weird thing about the Japanese language, the lips don't really move much when you are speaking. Lip reading Japanese can be very hard to impossible. So the researchers probably don't even realize that is a problem.
      • by pubwvj ( 1045960 )

        Hmm... She definitely doesn't look like she's speaking Japanese. I studied Japanese a long time ago and still understand it a little.

  • Was Muppet Labs outsourced by some H1B mutt?
  • It was in all the high schools [popscreen.com].

    The message is simple:

    Don't. Date. Robots. [youtube.com]
  • Sorry, but it just had to be said...

  • The human brain has developed over a very long period of time to detect what is largely regarded as "beauty" in others. This ability boils down to detecting a high probability of producing healthy offspring. Producing a machine that can fool a human brain to the point it can bypass this defense mechanism is something I would consider quite the feat.

    Consider people that have undergone sex reassignment surgery, people with botched cosmetic surgery, people that had appearance altering accidents (even after h

  • If they called it a replicant, I could fall in love....

  • People can fall in love with their dog, their house or their car, so a robot isn't that big a leap.

    What you want to know is whether we can build a robot that falls in love with you.

  • ...because when you see 'sophia' speak, you'll notice that all of the visemes in her speech are exaggerated (it makes the corners of her mouth look super twitchy.) This is because whoever wrote the animation side of their TTS solution either just started this week or has never done this before.

    The solution to this is some trivial blending and based upon the near and mid term expected word rate and the viseme to viseme transitions about to happen.

    For a company espousing how human their robots are, they've g

  • So we already deal with women not being treated as equals and now we're making female robots who are beautiful, who are never mad and has eternal youth. I wonder how this will affect our behavior towards women.

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham

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