Good point, Chuck. In many ways we're quite comfortable talking with robots, and we always know it's a robot. Most phone calls to organizations now involve robotic interaction. It is always obvious, and many times, it's preferable to speaking with a human. The voice recognition aspects are getting quite impressive, but it's still not replicating humans so much as it is servicing customers with automation.
Hi HB, I still contend the ATM is a very successful robot. It provides services previously performed by humans. In most of its functions it improves on human interaction. Its functions are intensely personal. It is more efficient and accurate than a human, and it is helpful, asking if there is anything else you would like.
The ATM is a super-special case. With the ATM, you really want almost no interaction, whatsoever. For instance, if I could fit a pico-ATM in my wallet, and generate cash (my cash, not magic cash) when I needed it with *no interaction whatsoever* (I just need $30 cash, reach in my wallet, and pull out 2 $20-bills that were not there an hour ago), I would love it. I think most people would. There are very few interactions like that. Most of the time (whether it's a Roomba or a... something more personal) you want something to be *done*. "You, robot, hand me the burger and fries I just ordered." "You, robot, show me the swatch of carpet I just tapped on the screen." There's a complex *interaction*. I imagine the first priority is not to mess things up. To get the order right, not to set fire to the customer's pants, etc. After that, not being too scary should rank pretty high with most human consumers.
I have to admit (robatnorcross), being chased after by a giant toy with a gun is pretty scary, to me.
The secondary problem with intelligent machines looking like humans, the line will begin to blur for some people. It will be a shame when that happens and people begin to suggest that self-aware machines have rights.
I think Rick Rice (mentioned in the story) raises a good point when he asks: "Do we want robots to be assimilated into our culture so much that we don't recognize them at first glance?" I would answer, yes. I would feel very uncomfortable if I didn't know whether I was talking to a robot or human.
Somewhere after just becoming fairly sophisticated and exhibiting what would pass for intelligence, some thiungs may become "self aware". At least that is the term that has been used to describe another stage of development, another barrier crossed. At that point we will probably find out that many wrong decisions have been made, and that it is way to late to correct the errors.
By extension, you raise the whole Turing test question. Namely, if a robot w/out software etc is an idiot, is a robot with a sophisticated program, which can iteratively "learn" and respond to questions as if it were human, intelligent? The common-sense answer is no. However, at some point robots might be able to effectively simulate human characteristics (i.e,, the difference between the machine and the real won't be as marked as it is now).
That's funny ChasChas. I hadn't thought that a face would be an improvement on an automated teller machine. Maybe that would be an improvement, an ATM with a face that could talk in detail about accounts.
Chuck, Maybe it would be creepier if it did have a head because it would feel more human. Not sure about that, but I would think it is most likely related to function. Clearly "autonomous service robots" are finding their way into actual applications in warehousing, order fulfillment and even surgical assistance applications. I don't think there's a head in any of these robot configurations either.
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