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Imprinting robots bond with study coordinator Dr. Lola Canamero.
Robots have feelings, too -- or at least they will -- pending the completion of a pan-European research project being led by a group of British scientists

The Feelix Growing project aims to design and build a series of robots that can interact with humans on an emotional level, and actually adapt their behavior in response to emotional cues from their human counterparts.

The official goal of the project is to conduct "interdisciplinary investigation of socially situated development ... as a key paradigm towards achieving robots that interact with humans in their everyday environments in a rich, flexible, autonomous, and user-centered way." To achieve this, the 2.3 million-Euro effort has assembled more than two dozen roboticists, developmental psychologists and neuroscientists from six nations.

The robots used in the project are simple designs, including some "off-the-shelf" models. The complexity lies in the software, which will construct artificial neural networks to pick up on human emotions exhibited via facial expressions, voice intonation, gestures and other behaviors.

The leader of the European Commission-funded project, Dr. Lola Canamero is a senior lecturer in the School of Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire, England. She also serves as the principal investigator and coordinator of the university's Adaptive Systems Research Group, which focuses on researching socially intelligent agents, emotion modeling, developmental robotics, human-robot and human-computer interaction, embodied artificial intelligence and robotics, sensor evolution and artificial life.

In a recent interview with BBC, Canamero said the robots will be designed to detect basic human emotional states such as  anger, happiness, and loneliness. Once the states are detected, the robots will be programmed to perform a support role, by seeking to soothe an angry human, or cheer up a lonely or depressed one.

One of the first fruits of the Feelix Growing effort has been the production of a robot capable of "imprinting" behavior. The behavior is similar to the way many baby animals develop an instinctual attachment to the first adult they see at the time of birth, usually the mother. The imprinting robot prototype learns to recognize a particular human and follow that individual around, gradually adapting to the human's actions and emotional state, then interacting accordingly, Canamero said.

At the conclusion of the project, the scientists intend to build two robots that will combine aspects of the research being conducted at each of the eight partner sites scattered around Europe.

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RE: No, they wont
By Visual on 2/27/2007 7:53:01 AM , Rating: 2
the matrix is a joke, and pretty poor example. how come out of all the good movies with robots taking over, you picked this one? the terminator trilogy is the standard example for scenarios where AI gets just too smart, next time use it instead :p

indeed we'll be more an more dependent on machines, and a lot of sci-fi movies about AI takeover get closer and closer to becoming real possibilities. with brain-computer interface advances of a couple years ago even the matrix seems possible now, but i'm pretty sure our actual future will be different. there are far more revolutions just waiting to happen in the next couple of decades besides AI breakthroughs.

we'll get better and better understanding of the inner workings of our brains, which may actually help us in creating artificial intelligence. or it may be the other way around, AI developed in some other way can help us understand how our own brains work...

developments in brain-computer interfaces could mean a whole different way of interfacing with computers - including matrix-like virtual reality, controlling machinery as if it is part of our bodies, controlling wholly artificial bodies either as a replacement of our biological ones or in addition to them. it may even turn out to be possible to control multiple bodies at once if your mind can cope with it.
it opens a whole different way of communicating between ourselves too - forget mobile phones, we can technically have technological equivalents of controlled telepathy. generations that grow up with such a technology might even develop new languages, not suitable for speaking but perfect for electronic communication, much faster and more accurate, perhaps similar to how computers communicate with each-other. and since the development of our way of thinking is quite dependent on communication, i imagine the new communication means will result in vastly different intellect for future humans. probably for the better, but again some sci-fi scenarios suggest a bad side is possible, i.e. losing emotional sensitivity and becoming too much like machines. i think even developing a collective conscience could be possible.
but even before any such changes have time to occur, BCI coupled with improved understanding of the brain can lead to funky stuff like mind reading, mind control etc.

another field with great potential is quantum mechanics. it, or a more general understanding of the universe's physics, has exciting possibilities we might one day unlock, some of which could be quite soon. large-scale quantum teleportation or duplication of matter, breaking the speed of light, manipulating space-time for instant travel or time travel are all very likely to turn out impossible or unusable for any practical application, but who knows, the future might surprise us. even simpler things like developing ways for observation or manipulation of events at the quantum level has great potential for nanomaterials and even nanomachinery production. another example is data storage at the atomic or quantum levels, etc. for computing.

quantum computing can potentially bring a revolution by itself, and can be one of the keys of emulating a whole world on the sub-atomic scale, matrix-style or just for scientific simulations to help all the other areas. it can turn out to be the key to AI as well.

nanotechnology is already starting to offer us advantages in the form of new materials, but this can get much further in the future. nanobots for production, medical and military purposes might be a reality soon.

we may be quite close to a revolution in power production too, specifically achieving cold fusion or cheaper antimatter synthesis and exploitation.

also, we're getting more and more efficient in designing various processes with minimal entropy and energy loss, for example in conversion between various types of energy or in transmitting energy, even wirelessly.

biology and biological engineering advances, especially dna reading and engineering improves more and more, and can allow us to understand and change nature and even ourselves both for good and for bad. cloning and organ transplantation, including eventual brain transplantation or whole-body transplantation depending on the viewpoint, can increase our lifetimes possibly indefinitely, and is a good alternative to the 'brain in a jar' scenario we can get from the BCI revolution.

the space race has been at a standstill for a while now, but using the advancements of all the other fields it might soon be feasible to reach and colonise the moon, mars, then farther around the solar system like jupiter or saturn's moons. even settling a different solar system or indeed the whole galaxy doesn't seem impossible now.

yes, i took a bunch of sci-fi books and dumped the plot briefs here :p and yes, you've probably read or watched similar things, and can imagine each of the described "futures" with both good and bad sides of it... but i don't think any of those authors got it right. i doubt any man can even remotely guess what our future will be like, because, quite simply, it won't be just one of those revolutions. it will be many of them combined, and many more that we can't even see coming yet, and that combination is something i just can't imagine

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