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History of AI & Robotics

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#21
Yuli Ban

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Shakey | Early robot from 1966-1972 at Stanford's artificial intelligence laboratory

 

 

Shakey the Robot was the first general-purpose mobile robot to be able to reason about its own actions. While other robots would have to be instructed on each individual step of completing a larger task, Shakey could analyze commands and break them down into basic chunks by itself.

Due to its nature, the project combined research in robotics, computer vision, and natural language processing. Because of this, it was the first project that melded logical reasoning and physical action. Shakey was developed at the Artificial Intelligence Center of Stanford Research Institute (now called SRI International).

Some of the most notable results of the project include the A* search algorithm, the Hough transform, and the visibility graph method.

After SRI published a 24-minute video in 1969 entitled "SHAKEY: Experimentation in Robot Learning and Planning", the project received significant media attention. This included an April 10, 1969 article in the New York Times; In 1970, Life referred to Shakey as the "first electronic person"; and in November 1970 National Geographic Magazine covered Shakey and the future of computers. The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence's AI Video Competition's awards are named "Shakeys" because of the significant impact of the 1969 video.

 

This is peak Yuli Ban: an artificially intelligent robot from the 1960s and '70s, back when robotics and AI were pitifully weak. Shakey took a full hour just to cross the room!

320px-SRI_Shakey_with_callouts.jpg


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#22
Yuli Ban

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Latest Advance in Artificial Intelligence: Computer Wins a Game Against a Go Master


The link is dead, so I redirected it to the Reddit discussion.
So how amazing! AI beat a human master at Go! 
 
As reported on... April 14th, 2008.
 
panic

On a 9x9 board.

 

So not very impressive in retrospect, especially considering the computer apparently only won a single game out of three.


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#23
Yuli Ban

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An actual 1989 home robot promo, now with 720k floppy disk drive

Newton: the daddy of JIBO, Pepper, and even Alexa.


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#24
Yuli Ban

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Honda's ASIMO Robot buckling on the stairs | 2006

One of the most infamous moments in robot history. It's also a testament to how difficult bipedal locomotion was for engineers before the 2010s.

It's also telling how stiffly ASIMO falls over. It looks so much like a toy, further demonstrating the vast cliffs of advancement engineers would have to climb before machines could reasonably resemble humans.


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#25
Yuli Ban

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1960s Automatic Hamburger Machine - 50 Years Ahead of Its Time!

This is so 1950s-1960s. And it's true, this is absolutely ahead of its time. I can barely trust modern day automation because I know that there are so many potential variables and glitches. In this much more analog era, I'm surprised it even works at all. Just a piece of evidence that mechanical systems are enough to make people excited for automation even though we need advancements in digital computing to make it competent.


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#26
Yuli Ban

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Rare Footage of Elektro the Robot and His Dog Sparko (1950s)

 

What was once cutting edge technology that genuinely brought people awe for the future now comes across as a surreal Adult Swim promo.


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#27
Yuli Ban

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ASIMO promo

 

Here it is, the video that triggered my "future break" 5 years ago this month. March 2014, the month I became a "Born Again Singularitarian".

All because of a video of this sleek white humanoid robot doing some mundane things in a Japanese facility. It made me geek out, "Oh my god!! We have bipedal humanoid robots! What else do we have? Artificial intelligences! Drones! Super-strong supercomputers! Jetpacks! Smartphones! Virtual reality! Augmented reality! BCIs! Autonomous cars! Bionics! And more!!" Hence why I created those threads about what the future looked like and "We Live in the Future™" and whatnot. The Singularity never seemed so close. 

Of course, the very next month, I had that panic attack over the prospect of it all going up in smoke before we ever got the chance to enjoy any of it...

May 2014 was such an amazing month for sci-tech (that was the month of the first "Yuli Banularity") and June seemed to continue it, but eventually I calmed down because I realized that the Singularity was not close. I remember thinking about this that summer, imagining this ever-expanding geodesic dome of nanites coming my way all because DeepMind plugged in one good line of code— and I thought, "Yeah, that's not happening." Despite all these amazing futuristic technologies, I was still here living this humdrum mundane life "doing things". I didn't have a robot in my house. Besides a pitiful Roomba and a robotic fan, at least. I didn't have virtual reality. I didn't have bionics. No one I knew did. I could dream, but it wasn't reality.

 

So the more I watched this video, the sadder I got because it seemed like a tease.

Here's the "full" video it was for:

ASIMO - Honda's Dream Machine | History of ASIMO circa 1986 to 2014


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#28
Yuli Ban

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Where can a laymen get an introduction to the current state-of-the-art of "hard AI"?

martincmartin

I worked on (baby steps toward) hard AI until about 2003, first at CMU, then MIT. I thought a lot about where the field is going, and why. Here's a brief history of AI:

1940s:

  • computer invented; clearly does things that, in people, are considered intelligent (e.g. arithmetic)
  • Atomic bomb changes face of science research in America. It's hard to overstate the impact of going from conventional bombs (killing groups of people) to atomic bombs (wiping out entire cities). Russians quickly catch up. People know we're just scratching the surface of sub-atomic physics, and wonder what else lies hidden in the atom. Physics funding increases 10x.

1950s:

  • Computers can solve calculus problems, which looks to many people like they have the intelligence of an undergraduate.
  • Dartmouth conference and AI starts to gel as a discipline.
  • Sputnik shows that Russians can push a button and two hours later, an atomic bomb explodes in the U.S., with no way to stop it. ARPA founded to give scientists lots of money to research basic science. Funding in physics goes up another 10x.

1960s:

  • Space race, where Russians are continually ahead of the Americans: first person in space, first person in orbit, first device on the moon, etc.
  • Computers do more things that look intelligent: hold simple conversations, re-discover hundreds of years of math in a few hours. People worry that Russians will be able to create intelligence thousands or millions of times greater than a human's, and outsmart us. This peaks around 1970, as captured in the movie "The Forbin Project."
  • The media focuses on the most outlandish predictions.
  • The movie 2001 is seen as more-or-less plausible depiction of what could happen by the year 2001. Perhaps a little optimistic, but not wildly so.

1970s:

  • Russians fall behind in space & physics. Hyped AI doesn't pan out. Low hanging fruit in symbol systems AI are taken, and it's into a hard slog. Voters grumble about all the money being spent on research. ARPA renamed DARPA and told to focus on military specific technology.

1980s:

  • The people funding AI no longer want to hear about hard AI, they want people to solve practical, near-term problems. There's a growing consensus that symbol systems, hard AI stuff doesn't work and isn't going to work any time soon.
  • An AI professor at MIT told me that, in the 1980s, CS professors were embarrassed to say they were working in AI, and hasted to add "but not that kind of AI!"
  • There's lots of talk about what the next paradigm will be. Stuff that looks like other engineering disciplines wins. (Hidden Markov Models come from communications theory, as do Khalman filters, etc.)

1990s:

  • "Machine learning" (aka applied statistics) takes over as the only game in town (in the U.S.). Essentially, AI is in its behaviorist stage, where it's assumed that anyone who talks about strong AI is a flake.

2000s:

  • More "machine learning = AI". Perhaps the seeds of the next paradigm are being laid, but we'll only know in retrospect.

The thread is from 30 August, 2008.

 

In retrospect, he was right.


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#29
Yuli Ban

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Robots set to get homely by 2007

Friday, 22 October, 2004

Robots are set to become increasingly familiar companions in homes by 2007, says a United Nations survey.
Seven times more robots will helping us out with the cleaning, security and entertainment in three years' time, as their price falls and they get smarter.
 
It is not quite the humanoid vision of blockbuster film I, Robot as many of them will be vacuum bots.
 
Two-thirds of the 607,000 domestic robots in use were bought in 2003, says the UN's annual World Robotics report.
 
By the end of 2007, 4.1 million robots will be doing jobs in homes, says the report by the UN Economic Commission for Europe and the International Federation of Robotics.
As well as the vacuuming, they will take over tasks like mowing the lawn, cleaning pools, and washing windows.
 
Robots like Irobi, unveiled this week by Korean company Yujin Robotics, will be able to multiple tasks.
 
It is a net-based, all-in-one family robot complete with educational functions, home security, diary, entertainment, and message delivery capability.


15 years ago, during the height of the 2000s economic boom and right off the wake of the early success of the Roomba, robots had a bit of a resurgence. People believed that AI had finally become strong enough for domestic robots to become a reality and overestimated the near future. In retrospect, it's hilariously obvious why this domestobot boom didn't happen. Machine learning— the brains we need for practical robots— was still much too weak and only just a "trend" in data science. Robots were still totally preprogrammed. Those old Roombas could have theoretically been created by the ancient Greeks. Yeah, make a mechanical wind-up toy that sweeps a floor and you basically have an Antique Roomba. The first models found their way around by bumping into things and made no floor maps. 

The Aibo dog, as cute as it was, was just a novelty. It was basically a Tamagotchi with a body.


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#30
Yuli Ban

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Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology


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#31
Yuli Ban

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1980s Robot Butler, USA High Tech

From the perspective of a 2019 futurist, it's actually rather sad to view cutting-edge sci-tech from previous decades because I know the ambition far outweighs the capability. 

It's why I'm so fascinated by robotics, AI, video games, and whatnot from the 1950s and '60s (and before). It involves a complete illusion, a magic trick even, just to make these things look like they work. Digital IT was so ridiculously, cataclysmically weak that computers from that era come across to me as being electric bricks. 

It's still the case in the 1980s. It's melancholic to watch people work on these things with the knowledge that the hardware was far too weak for them to find any real progress. It's just as melancholic to hear the words of futurists eager to see where these tech dreams go, hoping that the true breakthroughs are just around the corner. I can really feel that historical irony and tragedy of the proverbial futurist from 1969 being discouraged by the lack of progress in AI & robotics but confident that general purpose machines are just a decade or two away.

 

Robots today are actually qualitatively better due to utilizing machine learning, and even that still brings loads of problems and limitations because for as powerful as machine learning is, it's still not powerful enough. We've reached a point where computers are consistently able to match human cognition in specific areas without any tricks, but we're still years away from the point where computers can do a multitude of those tasks without supervision or theatrical preprogramming. Hence why I say robots from the 1980s like this one are basically magic tricks wrapped in plastic.


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: artificial intelligence, AI, AI winter, deep learning, machine learning, history, automaton, Leonardo da Vinci, Perceptron, golem

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