Robotics and AI, an update.

Those of you who read through the News every week probably already know this, but I’m going to recap it here because there have recently been some significant advances in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.

First off, last week we had the IBM Watson super computer competing against people in the American game show Jeopardy. After the first round it was tied for first, but by the end of the competition it was well out in front. This is a big deal because Watson had to take purely audio cues from the host and had the same amount of time to answer as the human contestants. This is a significant step forward in terms of a linguistic interface for computers and despite it’s limitations, testing is underway to bring Watson into the medical field.

The Watson interface could also apply quite smoothly to another of my favorite projects: the South Korean Classroom Robots. These things are great… They’re basically automated conversational partners to help Korean kids learn English. Teachers can also remote control them to give lessons. The South Korean government is putting a ton of funding into the project ($36 Million USD in 2012) and are planning to have the little robots in 8000 preschools by 2013.

Those are just two of the advances in AI and Robotics, we’re also using the latest AI to test theories of human thought, we’ve got another that can tell how we’re feeling from conversational cues, we’ve got robots exploring the bottom of the oceans, and another that has sensitive eyes and fingers.

Robotics and Artifical Intelligence are becoming more and more capable (I’m hesitant to use the term “more human”) and very soon they are going to be interacting with us on a daily basis.

Think about how computers have become an indespensible part of human existance in the last 15-20 years. In the next 20, I think it’s obvious that we’ll be looking at the same integration of Robots and AI into our world, society and daily lives.


Thanks for reading, I hope you’re enjoying the posts. As always, if you think it’s cool (or you think it’s horrible), please comment. And tell your friends.


“Intelligence is the art of good guesswork.” – H.B. Barlow, The Oxford Companion to the Mind


4 thoughts on “Robotics and AI, an update.

  1. So is david asimov working with apple to create the first I-Robot? Great post, I read in the popular mechanics that they are developing a sense of smell for robots too, ill send through the details. I want a r2-d2!

  2. How awesome would it be to have an R2?

    Not sure I'd understand everything he says… but from the movies I think I do general translations ^^

  3. Your former philosophy prof should be hanged and quartered – the burgeoning robotic field opens a host of ethical and practical problems. How will the S Korean robot teachers deal with a nasty angry conduct-disordered child? Does it sit there and get beaten up or retaliate at least verbally? How will the authorities manage this kind of scenario? What can we expect from emotional interactions: how does one avoid them becoming negative? Maybe your prof was/is pedantic? Either way, roll on robots! I'd prefer a sane robot to many people!! Sorry the prof is an inkhorn!

  4. My comment made no mention of the ethical or practical problems around robotics and artificial intelligence. It was simply a statement about what is happening in the field.

    Sure, society is going to have issues integrating robots and AI… we're only just beginning to feel the impact of the internet (look at what happened in Egypt, and how hard China is working to mitigate that impact). That doesn't mean it's not going to happen.

    My prof's were awesome ^^ that just wasn't the point of this post.

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