RT @charlottejee: A really good sweeping look at the state of robotics right now, and the associated

RT @charlottejee: A really good sweeping look at the state of robotics right now, and the associated

Curated via Twitter from MIT Technology Review’s twitter account….

In the long run, Skaff told me, robots and people will settle on “a common set of human-robot interaction conventions” that will enable humans to know “how to interpret what the robot is doing and how to behave around it. ” But for now, robotmakers and ordinary people are feeling their way there.

Inside was his company’s product—a 200-pound device that does work that once required a human being. “This is where the AI runs,” he said, pointing into the collection of circuit boards, wires, and metal boxes that made up the machine: Sensors to tell it where it is, cameras to let it see, controllers to send its commands to the excavator, communication devices that allow humans to monitor it, and the processor where its artificial intelligence, or AI, makes the decisions a human driver would. “These control signals get passed down to the computers that usually respond to the joysticks and pedals in the cab.

The workplace of the near future “will be an ecosystem of humans and robots working together to maximize efficiency,” said Ahti Heinla, co-founder of the Skype internet-call platform, now co-founder and chief technology officer of Starship Technologies, whose six-wheeled, self-driving delivery robots are rolling around Milton Keynes and other cities in Europe and the United States. “We’ve gotten used to having machine intelligence that we can carry around with us,” said Manuela Veloso, an AI roboticist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

We walked around her lab—a warren of young people in cubicles, working on the technologies that might let a robot help keep the conversation going in a support group, for example, or respond in a way that makes a human feel like the machine is empathizing.

Built robots dug 21 foundations at the wind farm. “Operators will say things like, Oh, hey, here come the job killers,” said Derek Smith, lean innovation manager for Mortenson. “But after they see that the robot takes away a lot of repetitive work and they still have plenty to do, that shifts pretty quickly.

But they move about on their own, even taking elevators when they need to (they beep and flash a polite request to nearby humans to push the buttons for them). “It’s an inevitable fact that we are going to have machines, artificial creatures, that will be a part of our daily life,” Veloso said. “When you start accepting robots around you, like a third species, along with pets and humans, you want to relate to them.

A soft, compliant hand and opposable thumb allow the robot to change the position of the object to perform various tasks, such as getting a better grasp on it or passing it on.

A soft, compliant hand and opposable thumb allow the robot to change the position of the object to perform various tasks, such as getting a better grasp on it or passing it on.

A soft, compliant hand and opposable thumb allow the robot to change the position of the object to perform various tasks, such as getting a better grasp on it or passing it on.

The robots in that play, R. U. R. , look and act like people, do all the work of humans—and wipe out the human race before the curtain falls.

Once the robot excavator finished the dig we’d watched, a human on a bulldozer smoothed out the work and made ramps. “On this job, we have 229 foundations, and every one is basically the same spec,” Smith said. “We want to take away tasks that are repetitive.

Today RoboCup is a well-loved tradition for engineers on several continents, but no one, including Veloso, expects robots to play soccer better than humans anytime soon. “It’s crazy how sophisticated our bodies are as machines,” she said. “We’re very good at handling gravity, dealing with forces as we walk, being pushed and keeping our balance.

But many experts do agree on one thing: Some workers will have a much harder time adapting to robots. “The evidence is fairly clear that we have many, many fewer blue-collar production jobs, assembly jobs, in industries that are adopting robots,” said Daron Acemoglu, an economist at MIT who has studied the effects of robots and other automation. “That doesn’t mean that future technology cannot create jobs.

Some of the earliest robots of the mid-20th century were devices mostly controlled by nearby humans or were simple tools able to perform limited tasks.

Some of the earliest robots of the mid-20th century were devices mostly controlled by nearby humans or were simple tools able to perform limited tasks.

Some of the earliest robots of the mid-20th century were devices mostly controlled by nearby humans or were simple tools able to perform limited tasks.

Some of the earliest robots of the mid-20th century were devices mostly controlled by nearby humans or were simple tools able to perform limited tasks.

It was a refrain I heard often last year from employers in farming and construction, manufacturing and health care: We’re giving tasks to robots because we can’t find people to do them.

They fear robots won’t take over just grunt work but the whole job, or at least the parts of it that are challenging, honorable—and well paid. (The latter process is prevalent enough that economists have a name for it: “de-skilling. ”) People also fear robots will make work more stressful, perhaps even more dangerous.

Perhaps it will be possible to give all our work to robots someday—even the work of religious ministry, even “sex work. ” But Campbell’s constituents want to keep something for humanity: the work that makes humans feel valued.

Though construction sites will always need human adaptability and ingenuity for some tasks, “with robots we see an opportunity to standardize practices and create efficiencies for the tasks where robots are appropriate,” Kikani said.

This is because there are more robots in more places with each passing year, but also because robots are working in new settings—where they meet people who don’t know what to expect and situations that their designers didn’t necessarily anticipate.

Below the neck, for now, the robot is still a doll—its arms and legs move only when the user manipulates them. “We don’t today have a real artificial intelligence that resembles a human mind,” McMullen acknowledges. “But I think we will.

Robots increasingly are able to do agricultural tasks that once required the dexterity and precision of human hands.

Industrial engineers automated assembly lines with programmed robots to speed repetitive tasks and facilitate mass production.

Using fingers inflated with compressed air to mimic a human hand’s soft touch, this robot at the Technical University of Berlin picks up an apple.

Industrial engineers automated assembly lines with programmed robots to speed repetitive tasks and facilitate mass production.

Industrial engineers automated assembly lines with programmed robots to speed repetitive tasks and facilitate mass production.

Industrial engineers automated assembly lines with programmed robots to speed repetitive tasks and facilitate mass production.

We need to adapt to them, as Veloso said, as to a different species—and most robotmakers are working hard to engineer robots that make allowances for our human feelings.

One of her lab’s projects, for example, is a robot coach that leads an elderly user through an exercise routine, then encourages the human to go outside and walk. “It says, ‘I can’t go outside, but why don’t you take a walk and tell me about it? ’” Matarić told me.

Soft robots are safer than rigid, metal ones when it comes to working with humans.

Soft robots are safer than rigid, metal ones when it comes to working with humans.

Soft robots are safer than rigid, metal ones when it comes to working with humans.

New technology lets robots cope with the constant change and irregular shapes that humans encounter at work.

At the wind farm site in Colorado, executives from the Mortenson Company, a Minneapolis-based construction firm that has hired Built’s robots since 2018, told me about a dire shortage of skilled workers in their industry.

Today’s robots can’t match human hands either, said Chico Marks, a manufacturing engineering manager at Subaru’s auto plant in Lafayette, Indiana.

Grasping objects and manipulating them are crucial skills for robots that work with people.

This robot has ultrasensitive touch sensors and moves much like a human hand does.

This robot has ultrasensitive touch sensors and moves much like a human hand does.

This robot has ultrasensitive touch sensors and moves much like a human hand does.

When the robot grasps an apple, a flower, or a human hand, the fingers naturally take the shape of the thing grasped.

On the other hand, “my brother-in-law Dominic, who is a longshoreman today, he has no clue how to work on these robots. And he’s 56.

Companies thus save money by cutting employees and adding robots. “You get a lot of subsidies for installing equipment, especially digital equipment and robots,” Acemoglu said. “So that encourages firms to go for machines rather than humans, even if machines are no better. ” Robots also are just more exciting than mere humans.

In 1996 Veloso, the Carnegie Mellon AI roboticist, was part of a challenge to create robots that would play soccer better than humans by 2050.

A century after they were first dreamed up for the stage, real robots are making life easier and safer for some people.

At the wind farm site, I learned that “bouncing” the toothed bucket of a big excavator against the ground is a sign of inexperience in a human operator. (The resulting jolt can actually injure the person in the cab. ) To a robot excavator, the bounce makes little difference.

The influence of fantasy robots leads people to think that today’s real machines are far more capable than they really are.

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