The robots become more social. Are humans ready?

Anki's CEO, Boris Sofman, has Vector, the company's new home robot, in New York. The robot with wheels is designed as a successor to the toy robot of the San Francisco company, Cozmo, which was presented in 2016

Personal domestic robots that can socialize with people are beginning to leave the laboratory and reach our living rooms and kitchens. But are humans ready to invite them into their lives?

It took decades of research to build robots, even in a fraction as sophisticated as those that appear in popular science fiction.

They do not look much like their fictional predecessors; most do not walk, only sometimes they roll and often lack limbs.

And they are not close to equaling the language, social skills and physical dexterity of people.

Worse still, they are losing out to the still intelligent speakers manufactured by Amazon, Apple and Google, which cost a fraction of what the first social robots do, and which work with artificial intelligence systems that leave the limited capabilities of many robots in the world. dust.

Anki's CEO, Boris Sofman, has Vector, the company's new home robot, in New York. The robot with wheels is designed as a successor to the toy robot of the San Francisco company, Cozmo, which was presented in 2016

Anki's CEO, Boris Sofman, has Vector, the company's new home robot, in New York. The robot with wheels is designed as a successor to the toy robot of the San Francisco company, Cozmo, which was presented in 2016

That has not stopped the ambitious robot manufacturers from launching realistic robots to the market, although with mixed results so far.

Two pioneers in a new vanguard of cute and sociable robots (Jibo, a curvilinear speaker and Kuri, a caricatured "nanny") have been early victims. The creators of Vector, a less expensive domestic robot that was presented on Wednesday, expect its launch to be more successful.

There are still others, including a project in which Amazon is rumored and robots designed to provide company to the elderly, who remain in the development phase.

"I think we're going to start seeing some that will go on the market this year," said Vic Singh, a founding general partner of Eniac Ventures, which has invested in several new robotics companies. But they will be limited to very specific uses, he warned.

The hopes of social robots continue to surpass reality.

At the end of last year, Jibo, almost without distinctive features, appeared on the cover of the "best inventions" edition of Time magazine.

Its creator, MIT robotics researcher Cynthia Breazeal, told The Associated Press at the time that "there is going to be a time when everyone will simply take the personal robot for granted."

That time has not yet arrived.

Jibo, a vaguely conical device a foot high crowned by a wide hemispherical "head", stays where you put it, usually on a countertop.

But you can turn your "face" round and flat screen to meet your gaze; says joke and plays music; and it can shake convincingly if you ask him to dance.

It was released as the # 1 social robot in the world for the home & # 39;

However, at almost $ 900 (£ 700), Jibo did not win friends close enough.

Professor and robotics researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cynthia Breazeal touches social robot Jibo at the company's headquarters in Boston. Jibo can rotate his "face" of round and flat screen to meet his gaze; joke and play music

Professor and robotics researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cynthia Breazeal touches social robot Jibo at the company's headquarters in Boston. Jibo can rotate his "face" of round and flat screen to meet his gaze; joke and play music

Professor and robotics researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cynthia Breazeal touches social robot Jibo at the company's headquarters in Boston. Jibo can rotate his "face" of round and flat screen to meet his gaze; joke and play music

The robotics researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cynthia Breazeal, on the left, is next to the social robot Jibo, on the right, at the company's headquarters in Boston. It was released as the world's first social robot for the home & # 39;

The robotics researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cynthia Breazeal, on the left, is next to the social robot Jibo, on the right, at the company's headquarters in Boston. It was released as the world's first social robot for the home & # 39;

The robotics researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cynthia Breazeal, on the left, is next to the social robot Jibo, on the right, at the company's headquarters in Boston. It was released as the world's first social robot for the home & # 39;

  Jibo, a vaguely conical device a foot high crowned by a wide hemispherical "head", stays where you put it, usually on a countertop

  Jibo, a vaguely conical device a foot high crowned by a wide hemispherical "head", stays where you put it, usually on a countertop

Jibo, a vaguely conical device a foot high crowned by a wide hemispherical "head", stays where you put it, usually on a countertop

It is still on sale online, but it was reported that its parent company fired a large part of its workforce in June and did not respond to requests for comment.

"It's a really cool device, but it did not offer much use," Singh said.

In late July, another startup, California-based Mayfield Robotics, stopped manufacturing Kuri, a $ 699 (£ 540) roving machine that would take pictures and videos of hidden cameras behind its round, blinking eyes.

Other home robots, like Temi ($ 1,499 / £ 1,163), personal assistant with three-foot video screen and Sony's Aibo ($ 1,800 / £ 1,400) are even less affordable.

"You can not sell a robot for $ 800 or $ 1,000 (£ 620 or £ 775) that has lower capabilities than an Alexa," said Boris Sofman, CEO of Anki, which plans to launch its mascot Vector this fall.

Promising a robotic future beyond the disk-shaped vacuums and lifeless cylindrical loudspeaker speakers, Anki is launching the $ 249 (£ 190) Vector as the elder brother of his small and determined Cozmo toy robot. (Anki has sold 1.5 million Cozmos since its debut in 2016).

Both robots are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and slide on tank tracks and chirp rather than speak, but Vector can answer basic questions, set a timer or deliver emails and text messages.

Anki is launching the $ 249 vector (£ 190) as the elder brother of his small and struggling toy robot Cozmo. (Anki has sold 1.5 million Cozmos since its debut in 2016)

Anki is launching the $ 249 vector (£ 190) as the elder brother of his small and struggling toy robot Cozmo. (Anki has sold 1.5 million Cozmos since its debut in 2016)

Anki is launching the $ 249 vector (£ 190) as the elder brother of his small and struggling toy robot Cozmo. (Anki has sold 1.5 million Cozmos since its debut in 2016)

Anki hired animators from Pixar and DreamWorks to give character to Cozmo and Vector. Israeli startup Intuitions Robotics brought prominent industrial designer Yves Behar to help create the look of ElliQ, which is designed for seniors

Anki hired animators from Pixar and DreamWorks to give character to Cozmo and Vector. Israeli startup Intuitions Robotics brought prominent industrial designer Yves Behar to help create the look of ElliQ, which is designed for seniors

Anki hired animators from Pixar and DreamWorks to give character to Cozmo and Vector. Israeli startup Intuitions Robotics brought prominent industrial designer Yves Behar to help create the look of ElliQ, which is designed for seniors

You can rest on a table until you hear an open door or, through facial recognition, "see" a familiar person in sight. Purr when you rub her golden back.

Social robots trace their lineage back to an interactive humanoid head called Kismet, which Breazeal built in an MIT lab in the 1990s.

Since then, advances in artificial intelligence have propelled the field forward.

Alexa's popularity and style has also helped to remove the weirdness of talking machines.

The key to Vector and other complementary robots, experts say, is finding the right balance between utility and personality while accounting for affordability.

There is still a great disagreement about what makes the right balance.

Missing the personality, and you better be perfect because the moment you make a mistake, you will be the big heavy robot that made a mistake, Sofman said.

But people can forgive mistakes as long as the robot reacts realistically.

Personal domestic robots that can socialize with people are beginning to leave the laboratory and reach our living rooms and kitchens. "I think we're going to start seeing some hit the market this year," said Vic Singh, founding partner and founder of Eniac Ventures.

Personal domestic robots that can socialize with people are beginning to leave the laboratory and reach our living rooms and kitchens. "I think we're going to start seeing some hit the market this year," said Vic Singh, founding partner and founder of Eniac Ventures.

Personal domestic robots that can socialize with people are beginning to leave the laboratory and reach our living rooms and kitchens. "I think we're going to start seeing some hit the market this year," said Vic Singh, founding partner and founder of Eniac Ventures.

Temi answers a question during an event in San Francisco. The company has been invested in several robotic startups. But they will be limited to very specific uses, he warned.

Temi answers a question during an event in San Francisco. The company has been invested in several robotic startups. But they will be limited to very specific uses, he warned.

Temi answers a question during an event in San Francisco. The company has been invested in several robotic startups. But they will be limited to very specific uses, he warned.

  The Israeli startup Intuitions Robotics brought prominent industrial designer Yves Behar to help create the look of ElliQ, which is designed for seniors. The robot is expected to launch next year

  The Israeli startup Intuitions Robotics brought prominent industrial designer Yves Behar to help create the look of ElliQ, which is designed for seniors. The robot is expected to launch next year

The Israeli startup Intuitions Robotics brought prominent industrial designer Yves Behar to help create the look of ElliQ, which is designed for seniors. The robot is expected to launch next year

Anki hired animators from Pixar and DreamWorks to give character to Cozmo and Vector.

The Israeli startup Intuitions Robotics brought prominent industrial designer Yves Behar to help create the look of ElliQ, which is designed for seniors.

The robot is expected to launch next year.

"We were looking for an aesthetic that would earn the right to be part of people's lives for a long period of time, not just a gadget or a toy," said Dor Skuler, founder and CEO of Intuition.

Instead of cute, ElliQ aims for calm.

Designed to sit on a side table, the robot is shaped like a round table lamp with a circular light that shines from the inside of its translucent plastic head.

Turn frequently, directing attention to the person you are talking to, and have an adjacent tablet screen to show photos or text messages.

Many researchers say that social robots are very promising to help the aging population.

These robots could remind older people to take medications, encourage them to get up and move around or visit others, and help them maintain better contact with family and friends.

However, for robots to develop across all ages, they must demonstrate that they are useful and useful, said James Young, a researcher at the Man-Machine Interaction Lab.

"Whether it's helping with loneliness, helping with tasks like cooking, that's the key," he said.

"Once people are convinced that something is useful or saves time, they adapt very well."

WHY ARE PEOPLE SO CONCERNED ABOUT AI?

It's a problem that worries some of the best minds in the world right now, from Bill Gates to Elon Musk.

The CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, Elon Musk, described AI as our "greatest existential threat" and compared its development as "summoning the devil".

He believes that super smart machines could use humans as pets.

Professor Stephen Hawking said it is almost a certainty that a major technological disaster will threaten humanity in the next 1,000 to 10,000 years.

They could steal jobs

More than 60 percent of people fear that robots will generate fewer jobs in the next ten years, according to a survey by YouGov 2016.

And 27 percent predict that the number of jobs "much" will decrease with previous research suggesting that workers in the administrative and service sectors will be the most affected.

In addition to representing a threat to our work, other experts believe that artificial intelligence could & # 39; & # 39; err & # 39; & # 39; and become too complex for scientists to understand.

A quarter of the respondents predicted that robots will be part of everyday life in only 11 to 20 years, and 18 percent predict that this will happen in the next decade.

They could be dishonest & # 39;

Computer professor Michael Wooldridge said AI machines could become so intricate that engineers do not fully understand how they work.

If experts do not understand how AI algorithms work, they can not predict when they will fail.

This means that driverless cars or smart robots could make unpredictable "unpredictable" decisions at critical times, which could put people at risk.

For example, artificial intelligence behind a car without a driver could choose to deviate towards pedestrians or crash against barriers instead of deciding to drive sensibly.

They could kill humanity

Some people believe that AI will completely eliminate humans.

"Eventually, I think human extinction is likely to occur, and technology will probably play a role in this," Shane Legg of DeepMind said in a recent interview.

He highlighted artificial intelligence, or AI, as the "number one risk for this century."

Musk warned that AI represents more of a threat to humanity than North Korea.

& # 39; If you do not care about the security of the AI, you should. Much more risk than North Korea, "wrote the 46-year-old man on Twitter.

"Nobody likes to be regulated, but everything (cars, planes, food, drugs, etc.) that is a danger to the public is regulated, AI should be too."

Musk has always advocated that governments and private institutions apply regulations on artificial intelligence technology.

He has argued that controls are necessary to protect machines from moving out of human control

(function() {
var _fbq = window._fbq || (window._fbq = []);
if (!_fbq.loaded) {
var fbds = document.createElement(‘script’);
fbds.async = true;
fbds.src = “http://connect.facebook.net/en_US/fbds.js”;
var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0];
s.parentNode.insertBefore(fbds, s);
_fbq.loaded = true;
}
_fbq.push([‘addPixelId’, ‘1401367413466420’]);
})();
window._fbq = window._fbq || [];
window._fbq.push([“track”, “PixelInitialized”, {}]);
.