AI & Robotics News and Discussions

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weatheriscool
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Study explores the potential of using a humanoid robot to entertain the elderly
https://techxplore.com/news/2021-06-exp ... derly.html
by Ingrid Fadelli , Tech Xplore
Humanoid robots have the potential of assisting humans in a variety of settings, ranging from home environments to malls, schools and healthcare facilities. Some roboticists have been specifically investigating the potential of social robots as tools to offer care and companionship to the elderly population.

Researchers at Nayang Technological University have recently carried out a study exploring the potential of a humanoid robot for entertaining residents of an elderly care home. Their paper, pre-published on arXiv, specifically examined the reactions of a group of elderly individuals as they played Bingo with a social robot called Nadine.

"The main goal of our paper was to investigate whether a robot with human appearance and gestures can support the elderly, particularly by entertaining them with games, such as Bingo," Nadia Magnenat Thalmann, one of the researchers who carried out the study, told TechXplore. "We wanted to find out whether these kinds of robots can help to decrease loneliness among the elderly, offering a presence and stimulus by playing games with them at any time of the day."
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Yuli Ban
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It’s (Still) Really Hard for Robots to Autonomously Do Household Chores
Every time we think that we’re getting a little bit closer to a household robot, new research comes out showing just how far we have to go. Certainly, we’ve seen lots of progress in specific areas like grasping and semantic understanding and whatnot, but putting it all together into a hardware platform that can actually get stuff done autonomously still seems quite a way off.

In a paper presented at ICRA 2021 this month, researchers from the University of Bremen conducted a “Robot Household Marathon Experiment,” where a PR2 robot was tasked with first setting a table for a simple breakfast and then cleaning up afterwards in order to “investigate and evaluate the scalability and the robustness aspects of mobile manipulation.” While this sort of thing kinda seems like something robots should have figured out, it may not surprise you to learn that it’s actually still a significant challenge.

PR2’s job here is to prepare breakfast by bringing a bowl, a spoon, a cup, a milk box, and a box of cereal to a dining table. After breakfast, the PR2 then has to place washable objects into the dishwasher, put the cereal box back into its storage location, toss the milk box into the trash. The objects vary in shape and appearance, and the robot is only given symbolic descriptions of object locations (in the fridge, on the counter). It’s a very realistic but also very challenging scenario, which probably explains why it takes the poor PR2 90 minutes to complete it.

Because it's still really hard for AI to do these things too. Current systems like GPT-3 show signs of generality in limited areas, but we currently have no general world-model that can do multiple tasks. We still have to daisy chain narrow systems together to get a robot to function in the real world, and each of those narrow systems can easily break. They don't feed back into each other like biological general intelligence can, and aren't very adaptable either.

And then you have power too! Batteries are better than they were even ten years ago, but we still need plenty of improvements to make domestic robots that can work quickly enough for long enough to act as autonomous servants.
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Yuli Ban
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Experts Doubt Ethical AI Design Will Be Broadly Adopted As The Norm Within The Next Decade
A Majority Worries That The Evolution Of Artificial Intelligence By 2030 Will Continue To Be Primarily Focused On Optimizing Profits And Social Control
Artificial intelligence systems “understand” and shape a lot of what happens in people’s lives. AI applications “speak” to people and answer questions when the name of a digital voice assistant is called out. They run the chatbots that handle customer-service issues people have with companies. They help diagnose cancer and other medical conditions. They scour the use of credit cards for signs of fraud, and they determine who could be a credit risk.

They help people drive from point A to point B and update traffic information to shorten travel times. They are the operating system of driverless vehicles. They sift applications to make recommendations about job candidates. They determine the material that is offered up in people’s newsfeeds and video choices.

They recognize people’s faces, translate languages and suggest how to complete people’s sentences or search queries. They can “read” people’s emotions. They beat them at sophisticated games. They write news stories, paint in the style of Vincent Van Gogh and create music that sounds quite like the Beatles and Bach.

Corporations and governments are charging evermore expansively into AI development. Increasingly, nonprogrammers can set up off-the-shelf, pre-built AI tools as they prefer.

As this unfolds, a number of experts and advocates around the world have become worried about the long-term impact and implications of AI applications.
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Yuli Ban
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Spot the robot dog's owner, Boston Dynamics, officially sold to Hyundai
Spot the friendly robot dog has a new owner. Well, the company that makes this computer-controlled pooch does. On Monday, SoftBank announced Hyundai Motor Group officially took a controlling stake in Boston Dynamics, which tinkers with robots like Spot. Hyundai and SoftBank first revealed the deal last year, but as of today, Hyundai now owns a controlling stake -- at least 80% of the firm.

The companies didn't provide any additional details surrounding the deal, but we know Hyundai plopped down $1.1 billion to make this sale happen. As for what Boston Dynamics' new owner wants from the company, that's also totally unclear. The best we can assume is that Hyundai's pretty interested in robots. The automaker previously announced a new division dedicated to creating "walking cars" and other robots, so it could be the company's keen to have Boston Dynamics on its team as it pursues that. I can see it now: "Every new Hyundai walking car comes with your very own robot dog!"

That's probably not the case, but still, it's a massive acquisition for the Korean automaker and we're mighty curious to see what Hyundai plans to do with this robotics firm. If anything, the company could help Hyundai design new robots for manufacturing and logistics. That's not as fun, but could be highly valuable nonetheless.
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weatheriscool
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Intelligent carpet gives insight into human poses
https://techxplore.com/news/2021-06-int ... poses.html
by Rachel Gordon, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The sentient magic carpet from 'Aladdin' might have a new competitor. While it can't fly or speak, a new tactile sensing carpet from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) can estimate human poses without using cameras, in a step towards improving self-powered personalized healthcare, smart homes, and gaming.

Many of our daily activities involve physical contact with the ground: walking, exercising, or resting. These embedded interactions contain a wealth of information that help us better understand people's movements.

Previous research has leveraged use of single RGB cameras, (think Microsoft Kinect), wearable omnidirectional cameras, and even plain old off the shelf webcams, but with the inevitable byproducts of camera occlusions and privacy concerns.
weatheriscool
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Toyota announces new capabilities for domestic robots

by Bob Yirka , Tech Xplore
https://techxplore.com/news/2021-06-toy ... obots.html
Toyota Research Institute (TRI) has announced on its press blog that engineers with the company have developed new capabilities for its line of domestic robots. The new capabilities include recognizing and manipulating transparent objects and wiping down counters and tables. In the video accompanying the announcement, a robot grabs a smartphone off a table and uses it to take a selfie video as it carries on with cleaning a kitchen.

Toyota and other robotics companies in Japan have made clear their plans to create robots that will serve as domestic helpers in the coming years. Japan, notably, has one of the oldest populations and expects that there will be as many people over 65, as under by the year 2040. To address the aging problem, the robotics companies have been working to build robots that will be able to do the work that people find more challenging as they get older. To that end, engineers in Japan and other countries have designed robots that can sweep floors, vacuum carpets and even fold clothes. In this new effort, the team at TRI has tackled one of the difficulties that robot engineers have been facing—how to recognize and deal with transparent or shiny objects.
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Google Trains Two Billion Parameter AI Vision Model
The model was trained on three billion images and achieved 90.45% top-1 accuracy on ImageNet, setting a new state-of-the-art record
Researchers at Google Brain announced a deep-learning computer vision (CV) model containing two billion parameters. The model was trained on three billion images and achieved 90.45% top-1 accuracy on ImageNet, setting a new state-of-the-art record.

The team described the model and experiments in a paper published on arXiv. The model, dubbed ViT-G/14, is based on Google's recent work on Vision Transformers (ViT). ViT-G/14 outperformed previous state-of-the-art solutions on several benchmarks, including ImageNet, ImageNet-v2, and VTAB-1k. On the few-shot image recognition task, the accuracy improvement was more than five percentage-points. The researchers also trained several smaller versions of the model to investigate a scaling law for the architecture, noting that the performance follows a power-law function, similar to Transformer models used for natural language processing (NLP) tasks.
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The Pentagon Just Launched a New AI Initiative to Transform Global Warfare
In other words, the AI arms race is finally here
Imagine a nuclear arms race with few-to-no casualties and almost no threat of human extinction. Now replace nukes with unconscionable volumes of real-time data. Welcome to the future of global warfare.

The Pentagon just launched a new artificial intelligence (AI) initiative designed to enhance the curation process of massive amounts of tactical data, according to an announcement from Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, in an initial report from National Defense.

In other words, the AI arms race is finally here.

AI will streamline the Pentagon's global command infrastructures
The new campaign, which is called the DoD AI and Data Acceleration initiative (ADA), is designed to move novel data and AI-linked concepts like joint all-domain command and control, also called JAD2, said Hicks in the report. "The ADA initiative will generate foundational capabilities through a series of implementation experiments or exercises, each one purposely building understanding through successive and incremental learning," she explained during the AI Symposium.
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And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future
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Yuli Ban
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And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future
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