Rity - Sobot Longs To Be Near You

Rity - a software robot (or "sobot") - can transfer itself from one computer to another to serve his masters; Kim Jong-Hwan, director of the Robot Intelligence Technology lab and the other researchers in Korea's Institute of Advanced Science and Technology.

Rity is an autonomous agent, a software program that can transfer itself (upload/download) from robots or computers. It can upload itself into a mobile robot - like MyBot, a simplified version of robots used to play in the Robot-soccer association - and then follow its master around physically.

(MyBot with Rity inside)

If its master goes out of reach, it can use cameras throughout the building to search for him, and then upload itself into computers that are close by his master, ready for instructions.

When it appears on a computer screen, Rity takes the form of a cute little puppy.

(The many faces of Rity the sobot)

Rity started out with a simple robotic "genome" consisting of 14 "chromosomes" in 1,800 bytes that control 77 of Rity's behaviors. Rity's behavior can be partly shaped by training; the sobot's "personality" is a result of not just training, but all other environmental influences.

The ultimate goal is for everyone to have a sobot - an intelligent agent that knows all of your needs, and follows you around to help you with whatever you do.

One of the earliest descriptions of an intelligent agent is found in Frederik Pohl's amazing 1965 novel The Age of the Pussyfoot, a novel set several centuries in the future. Every person had a special device called a joymaker that allowed him to be in constant contact with the network - and his intelligent agent, which was based on his interests profile.

"...Have you filled out an interests profile?"

"I don't think so."

"Oh, do! Then it will tell you what programs are on, what parties you will be welcomed at, who you would wish to know. It's terrible to go on impulse, Charles," she said earnestly. "Let the joymaker help you."

He discovered that his own teacup had been replenished and he took a sip. "I don't understand," he said. "You mean I should let the joymaker decide what I'm going to do for fun?"

"Of course. There's so much. How could you know what you would like?"
(Read more about the interests profile)

In the novel, human beings were entirely dependent upon joymakers for every facet of their lives. Computer scientists speculate that some sort of intelligent agent software will be needed to find what they need when there are too many choices for a person to reasonably search through. (For now, we have Google!)

Perhaps readers can think of other examples in which computers were familiar with their master's preferences, or which downloaded themselves into different bodies for service.

From Wired.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/3/2006)

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