The robot Double can give any telecommuter a physical presence in meetings. The average smartphone today has as much processing power as a 1970s supercomputer--enough (as luck would have it) to act as the hub of a streaming home-audio network, serve as a mobile medical lab, or even run a robot. So now, instead of building robots from scratch, companies can construct models around smartphones. In the past, developing the central processing computer and software to get a robot to do even a simple task cost tens of thousands of dollars. By outsourcing brainpower, companies can cut the final price to hundreds.
This Friday marks the start of the fifth annual Atlanta Science Festival, kicking off with Rise Up, Robots, a variety show featuring an assortment of robotic performers. One of those performers will be Shimon, a marimba-playing robot that uses machine learning to develop new and inventive compositions. Shimon was created by Gil Weinberg, professor and founding director of Georgia Tech's Center for Music Technology. Many at Tech have heard of Shimon and its ability to improvise jazz melodies. This Friday, though, the musical robot will tread uncharted territory, showcasing a new rock composition composed by Zach Kondak, a graduate student in music technology, who will also play drums and guitar.
Welcome to AI book reviews, a series of posts that explore the latest literature on artificial intelligence. Will machines ever be able to replace or replicate human creativity? That is a question that we repeatedly ask ourselves as we continue to innovate and invent new creative tools. The printing press, the gramophone, the camera, the camcorder, the typewriter, the synthesizer, word processors, photo editing software, and many other tools we have invented over the past centuries have brought fundamental changes to creativity and arts. But what has remained constant throughout history is the human element.
The way to make a social home robot seems to be pretty standardized: basically, you cram a tablet computer into a cute robot body with some degrees of freedom and do your best to make sure that your voice recognition and conversation algorithms are as good of an experience as you possibly can, using a screen to help you out when necessary. This is fine, if you can get it to work well, but there's a concern that it's just going to turn into an experience that's essentially talking to a gussied-up version of your phone. A group of researchers including Michal Luria, Guy Hoffman, Benny Megidish, Oren Zuckerman, Roberto Aimi, and Sung Park from IDC Herzliya, Cornell, and SK Telecom have developed a prototype social robot called Vyo. Vyo is "a personal assistant serving as a centralized interface for smart home devices." Nothing new there, but what sets Vyo apart is how you interact with it: it combines non-anthropomorphic design with anthropomorphic expressiveness and a tactile object-based control system into a social robot that's totally, adorably different.