Print 18 comment(s) - last by LoweredExpecta.. on Aug 26 at 11:50 PM

An aspiring David, EU project strives to create learning, feeling and communicating robots.

One of the things still separating our future robotic companion reality with the sci-fi films such as “AI”, “I, Robot”, and “Cherry 2000” is the inability to create a robot that displays human-like emotion, reasoning, and learning abilities. Much can be done with various types of learning programs and programmed responses, but will mankind ever create a true self-evolving robot?

In any case, work with robots like Honda's ASIMO continues, bringing more advances to the science of robotics. The military is also ceaseless in its hopes to cut down on as much human interaction on the battlefront as possible. Still, humans control robotic wartime creations like the Predator (Reaper) drone and Talon S.W.O.R.D.S. robot. They day may be approaching when we see Johnny 5 or Star Wars-style droids warring in our place, but robotics and artificial intelligence still have a long way to go.

On a more friendly note, a consortium of European universities and robotics companies, under the FEELIX GROWING project led by Dr. Lola Cañamero, are working to develop robots capable of emotional growth and attachment. The purpose of FEELIX GROWING (an acronym for Feel, Interact, eXpress: a Global approach to development with Interdisciplinary Grounding) is to design robots that learn, react, express, and bond with humans in the same way human children do.

The new robots can express various emotions -- from fear to happiness and pride to anger -- depending on their interactions with particular humans, or in response to the tasks given to them. Should a chosen human companion fail to react in an acceptable way to a robot's fear or happiness, for example, the robot will become visibly agitated, much in the same way a child trying to get a parent's attention will.

Another project FEELIX GROWING is expanding into is called ALIZ-E. The newer program focuses on creating robots to be companions and caretakers for diabetic children, and will focus on linguistic and non-linguistic interactions. The project aims to provide robots that can learn, communicate, and provide social and health care for individual patients. The goal of the project is for the robots to learn how to interact and handle their patient's emotional and physical needs, which may be completely different from another patient's.

While it can be argued that these actions are nothing more than programmed responses, it is hard to disagree that human children learn in a very similar manner how to interact with adults and other children. And just as children grow to learn responsibility and morality, so too may robotic AIs, though the path seems long and daunting.

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RE: Emotions?
By Belegost on 8/17/2010 1:53:04 AM , Rating: 2
Actually by your definition of "emotion" that's exactly what these robots have.

The robots have sensory input that receives information about the world, the information is used to form a state description of the current condition of the robot, the robot then manipulates itself to display a audible and visual signal that corresponds to it's internal state. Sounds like it fits your definition of emotion...

Of course I don't think the way you define emotion there is comprehensive, but if you want to argue that these robots are not displaying an emotional response you will need to argue on better grounds.

RE: Emotions?
By LoweredExpectations on 8/18/2010 12:25:36 AM , Rating: 3
Nothing in the robot's reconfigured exterior - it's "emotion" - reflects anything other than a mechanical response to a certain stimuli. Getting back to the bike comparison, if I were to stick a nail into one of it's tires, that tire would deflate; obviously the tire is not expressing an internal mental state. The tire would be expressing an emotion only if you predefined deflation as being an emotion; and this is exactly what is involved when these robots are claimed to be expressing emotions. If it were claimed that the robot is expressing an internal mental state, then any response by any object to any stimuli could then be claimed to be expressing such a response.

Even in humans, a smile is not an emotion, it is the expression of the internal mental state 'happiness'. Tho it is interesting to note here that behavioral psychology - Skinner - in an attempt to make psychology a hard science like chemistry, attempts to do just that by claiming there are no internal states - at least that is what my behavioral psyche prof told us 30 years ago, but he described himself as a radical behaviorist, so perhaps mainstream behaviorism just ignores internal states - the reason being that internal mental states are not directly observable and quantifiable, a necessary prerequisite for 'real' science.

But I didn't intend my post to be a definitive definition of emotion - I'm sure I'm not capable of giving a satisfactory definition - however, I think you'd agree that there is a corruption of language involved in all these articles that use terms like 'intelligent' and 'emotional' to describe something much different that what is normally understood by those terms.

I look forward to true machine intelligence, btw. Let's all raise our glasses to the coming singularity!

RE: Emotions?
By LoweredExpectations on 8/26/2010 11:50:14 PM , Rating: 2
If it were claimed that the robot is expressing an internal mental state, then any response by any object to any stimuli could then be claimed to be expressing such a response.

That last sentence should read:

If it were claimed that the robot is expressing an internal mental state, then any response by any object to any stimuli could then be claimed to be expressing such a state.

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
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