Can Robots Express Human Like Emotions?

Human beings rely on a variety of subtle and not so subtle visual and emotional cues in order to communicate with one another.  As robotics become more human like they will need to have the ability to communicate using “emotional expressions” which closely mimic those of their human counterparts. Can robots express emotions in a way that will be appealing to human beings? A team at the Interdepartmental Research Center at the University of Pisa in Italy have launched a research project called FACE to find out. FACE or  Facial Automaton for Conveying Emotions uses the latest in robotics technology and cutting edge software to create oddly life-like robots. The FACE team seeks to further develop and improve upon its Robotics4.NET framework used program the robots and provide a communications infrastructure for its different software modules. According to Live Science; ” The FACE bot can register anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise. That repertoire requires 32 separate motors to control “muscles” in her head and upper torso.” We have seen work in this area before with the Japanese ACTROID-F designed with a more pleasant appearance and capable of displaying a greater degree of speed and fluidity of movement. At this stage of development the robot can seem somewhat disturbing but as the technology improves this important work could lead to more convincing emotionally expressive robots.

Perhaps the Worst TED Talk Ever “A Vision Of Crimes In The Future”

It’s pretty disappointing that TED allowed this talk to ever occur, it’s the classic “you better fear technology or else” hogwash that we have all heard before. Of course our technology is a doubled edged sword, it can be used for both good or ill but that has been the case since the first tools mankind ever used. The wooden club, chipped flint and fire can be used for defense against predators, hunting and cooking food or it can be used to pillage the camp down river.  This presenters perspective on technology really exemplifies the problem with modern law enforcement in that it perceives any and every new technological innovation as a possible threat. From this perspective such threats can only be mitigated by limitations on technology, its development and proliferation throughout modern society. This talk comes off as a kind of propaganda, there is no original thinking going on here it is merely fear mongering. Here is a sample of some of the speakers more ridiculous quotes;

“We are at the dawn of a technological arms race, an arms race between people who are using technology for good and those who are using it for ill.”

This arms race started long ago with stone tools  it’s not the “dawn” of anything.  An axe and hammer can be used to build a shelter or kill a man so this is not news.

“A search engine can determine who shall live and who shall die.”

Really? and how precisely are we to remedy that? Monitor all searches, limit what people can search for? Limit who they can search for and when?

“If you’re expecting the people who built airport security to protect you from the coming robopocalypse, you may want to have a backup plan.”

One would think that any TED presenter worth his salt would stay away from “Bad Robot” insinuations but guess not. The assumption here is that the advent of a “robopocalypse” as he calls it is an inevitability. Either intelligent autonomous robots will turn on humans or some crafty human will turn robots on the rest of humanity. Perhaps this was the presenters attempt at humor.

It’s too bad the presenter did not use his opportunity to speak at TED to explore a problem much more relevant given his background and that is the militarization of local law enforcement agencies which also seeks to leverage modern high technology for their own purposes. Those of us interested in technology and innovation expect more from TED.

Avoiding Mondays Internet Blackout

It’s a fear that strikes terror in hearts of internet users everywhere the dreaded “Internet Blackout”. It seems the DNS Changer Virus/Malware is out to get you me and every other user on the net on Monday July 9TH 2012 at least according to the FBI.  Why is DNS important? The DNS system is what allows computers on the internet to convert user friendly names like to IP addresses that computers can understand. Systems infected with  the DNS Changer Virus/Malware redirects users to bogus websites. If you want to see if your system is infected use the links below. This is not the first nor will it be the last such threat, it’s part of modern life in a high-tech world. So are we headed toward an apocalyptic net crash?, probably not but there is no harm in taking precautions.

Checking for DNS Changer on Windows 7

Checking for DNS Changer on Windows XP

Checking for DNS Changer on Checking OSX