Robots Should Start Out As Babies

Andrew Meltzoff, a psychology professor at the University of Washington and a co-director of the school’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences Meltzoff recently worked with a team of roboticists and machine-learning experts to explore a strange and compelling question: What if robots could learn the way human babies learned?

To test what they built, the researchers arranged two experiments. In one, a robot would learn to follow a human's gaze; in the other, the robot would learn to imitate a human moving fake food around a tabletop.

In the first experiment, the robot would learn how its own head moved, and assume that the human’s head was governed by the same rules. It would then observe the movement of the human’s head, including the direction that person was looking and what the person fixated on, and mimic those movements. In the second experiment, the robot experimented with moving food-shaped toys around on a table. Not only did the robot mimic the human—pushing the toys, sometimes sweeping them off the table top—it also occasionally used different means to achieve the same end result...

By emulating human development, Rao and his colleagues believe that robots will be able to learn progressively more sophisticated skills just by watching and imitating other humans and robots.

“We are convinced that bringing together the roboticists and developmental psychologists may allow us to combine the best of human learning and the best of machine learning to the benefit of both,” Meltzoff said.

“I’m trying to teach the roboticists to think like a baby. And I mean that in a good way.”

Science fiction writer Henry Slesar envisioned this development many years ago, in his 1958 short story Brother Robot:

Feb 6, 1997:
This is a day twice-blessed for me. Today, at St. Luke's hospital, our first child was born to my wife, Ila... when I saw her this morning, I could not bring myself to mention the second birth that has taken place in my laboratory. The birth of Machine, my robot child...

As time goes on, little Mac, the robot baby, is developing beautifully:

At four months, Fitz is developing along normal lines. His little body has gone from asymmetric postures to symmetric postures, his eyes now converge and fasten on any dangling object held at mid-point.
As for Mac, he is developing even more rapidly. He is beginning to learn control of his limbs: it is apparent that he will walk before his human brother. Before long, he will learn to speak; already I hear the rumbles within the cavity of the soundbox in his chest.
(Read more about Slesar's robot baby)

If you're curious about what baby robots might actually be like (they're a bit creepy, in my opnion), take a look at Affetto Child Robot With Realistic Facial Expressions, which also has links to more stories about baby robots.

Via The Atlantic; see also the paper A Bayesian Developmental Approach to Robotic Goal-Based Imitation Learning.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/2/2015)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

BladeBUG Robots Clean Massive Wind Turbine Blades
'There were the cleaners, with large padded feet, who were apparently polishing their way the whole length...' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1972.

IceBot Antarctic (Planetary?) Robotic Explorers Made Of Ice
'Some will combine in place to form more complicated structures, like excavators or centipedes.' - Greg Bear, 2015

Study: Robots Encourage Humans To Take Risks
Not exactly Three Laws compliant.

Best Robot Dance Video Of 2020
'I can Mashed Potato... I can do the Twist.' - Chubby Checker, 1961

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

DALL-E Makes Creative Images From Text
Okay, sf fans. If you could have some art created from a science fiction sentence, what sentence would you pick?

BladeBUG Robots Clean Massive Wind Turbine Blades
'There were the cleaners, with large padded feet, who were apparently polishing their way the whole length...'

Looms To Manually Weave Lunar Rover Wheels
It's fascinating to me how the Apollo program forced people to think outside their usual boxes.

IceBot Antarctic (Planetary?) Robotic Explorers Made Of Ice
'Some will combine in place to form more complicated structures, like excavators or centipedes.'

Glad 2020 Is Over
Maybe you missed one of these?

PEDOT Polymer Could Enhance Brain-Machine Interfaces
'the hair-fine wire going deep into Owen's brain, down into the pleasure center.'

Study: Robots Encourage Humans To Take Risks
Not exactly Three Laws compliant.

Kinetic Buildings And Psychotropic Houses
'There was a dim whirring, and the spheres tipped and began to rotate...'

Jupe Urban Escape Pods Have Tesla, SpaceX Roots
'The houses are prefabricated units... and they sell at the flat rate of five hundred dollars a room — set up.'

Best Robot Dance Video Of 2020
'I can Mashed Potato... I can do the Twist.'

Vertical Farm In Singapore's Output Is 1.5 Tons Per Day
'A towering eighty-story structure like the office "In-and-Out" baskets stacked up to the sky.'

3D Printed 'Blisk' Manufactured In Orbit
'It can be mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'

Comercial Airlock 'Bishop' Now On ISS
'They put the bones and the glass can that had contained the soup into the double-doored partition or vestibule...'

Space Station Could Use Some Martian Sawgrass
'What better purifying machine is there than a plot of grass?'

ARTUu AI Copilot For USAF
'A series of short beep's and chirps issued from his speaker...'

Smellicopter Combines Live Moth Antenna With Mechanical Drone
'The organic tissue is inserted in the master tank and then sealed.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.