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Do robots come to life?

  • 4-19-2012

Do robots come to life?

Machines have been widely used for a long time in the everyday life. But what if the machines won’t only be physical devices but also intelligent beings which will be able to think?

Busy (plastic) hands in the household

Households’ robotisation accelerated at the end of the '90s. Those little plump, automatic machines, which examined the floor carefully picking up any dirt, appeared at this time. They even searched for wall-sockets to charge their depleted batteries themselves. Later on, many household robots were produced like the one that changed the cat’s litter box, or the one that ironed, but even towel folding robots came to light as well.

However, in the East, especially in Japan and South Korea, household robots are realized in a bit different way. Future researchers work on intelligent co-researcher robots, with “whom” you can talk; they will help in cooking, or doing the homework, but they will take the dog for a walk and take care of the children as well.

Industrial robots

There are still a lot more industrial robots, than any other robots created for any other reasons and purposes. Their use actually includes all areas of human activities: they work in factories, in hospitals, in mines, in the army, in research institutes, etc. Generally they do such works, which are too hard for people, or the work itself is harmful for people’s health, but they also solve tasks that people would not be able to do as accurate as machines. In big factories machines do a series of coordinated work on automatic bands, such as they assemble high-quality cars or computer products.

Robots in the medical science

There have been several experiments done in the robotisation of surgical procedures, so "telemedicine” carried out through a network is not new either. Of course, don’t think of charlatans, who “heal” through TV networks! Now, it is a standard procedure that doctors, who are hundreds of kilometres far from their patients, can operate them with the help of a surgeon robot and a directing network which is attached to it.

Da VinciOne of the most successful surgeon robots, which has been used since 2000, is the Da Vinci developed by Intuitive Surgical Inc. This was the first device, which got permission to cut and put sutures on and in the patient's body. The arms of the robot get through an incision with a diameter of 1 centimetre into the patient’s body, just like during laparoscope procedures. The so-called "minimal invasive" method is much less risky than conventional surgery, so much more patients can be cured with the surgeon robot. During the robotic surgery, the patient is fixed on a special operating table, and the operation is performed by robotic arms, which are controlled by a (living) surgeon with a console. The whole procedure can be followed on a high-definition, three-dimensional endoscope and the associated image processing system.

Artificial intelligence does exist!

Robots demand places not only next to the operating table, but they are able to take part in research works as well; they plan and do experiments, and what’s more, they set up new hypotheses according to results, and they plan new experiments. And that's still not all: intelligent robots are real inventors. For example, a very ordinary instrument, the "Oral-B Cross Action” toothbrush was planned and created by robots. There is no doubt that these robots are intelligent.

But what is the artificial intelligence? In general, intelligence is related to a certain amount of knowledge, which means that you are intelligent, if you have a problem-solving, abstracting and generalization ability, a capability of recognizing analogies in different situations, and you can identify shapes, understand and use languages correctly, adapt yourself and learn, as well as recognize and correct your own errors.

According to these criteria there have been several robots, which possess artificial intelligence, for example the Fujitsu universal humanoid robot, “who works” as a receptionist in a hotel. It greets the guests arriving in the hotel, accompanies them to the elevator, calls the elevator down, puts the luggage on a handcart and carries them after the guests. It detects the surrounding people and objects with eight cameras. If it is called, it is able to determine the source of the sound with the complex system of sensors, and turns the head into that direction. It is able to understand easy questions and answers them as well. Besides these things, it is also capable of learning: it is able to connect to the computer and search for information on the Internet.

Japanese Ministry of Economy and the Mitsubishi Research Institute count on the success of similar robots, and predict that by 2020, robots, which bring 15 billion dollars currently, will bring 500 billion dollars income for Japan.

Robopet

The Aibo robot dog, developed by Sony, is perhaps the most intelligent little robot, which can be found in many households around the world. The digital pet runs around in the room by itself, shows off, and even gives paw. Beyond the default settings, the knowledge of the device can be still developed, thus it will be able to imitate many movements of a real dog, fulfil voice commands and memorize its name. Moreover, the robot dog can be taught: after an action we "can say" the dog, when it did good and when it did bad things, and later on it will do more positive actions, and less bad ones.

Robot army

One of the key elements of the United States military reform program, the FCS (Future Combat Systems), is the robotics. There have already been more than thousand combat robots serving in the U.S. army. The "Talon" and the "iRobot" help the land army.

Talon robots are small, caterpillar vehicles, which can be controlled with a laptop and radio signals, and they are usually used for testing suspicious packages from a bigger distance. They were deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq more than twenty thousand times. The iRobot is able to do actions without wire command guidance and usually it reveals interiors of buildings and quarters before the fight. It not only takes photos about the area, but it can draw an accurate map about it as well.

Did you know?

The artificial intelligence defeated the human, at least in the most popular quiz show in the USA. The IBM Company’s supercomputer, named Watson, overcame two living, breathing players, who had won every game before, with its artificial intelligence. The machine was able to understand people's conversation completely and gave the most probable answers to the questions. It was only blamed for not having a sense of humour.

Interesting facts

The most famous cyborg is the Terminator: living tissue on a metal frame; or let’s say it is a creature, which was born from the joining of the human and the robot. But you can also meet a cyborg, if you want: Kevin Warwick Professor has actually become a half-Terminator, after he had implants operated into his wrist, onto his sensory and motor nerves with which he could connect to the Internet. After he managed to connect, he “overstretched” the ocean, and felt and moved target objects there (as if his fingers would have touched them). After the experience he said, he was happy that he could do a step into the future as a scientist and wanted to go on the road of becoming a cyborg.