A robot with common sense…what could go wrong?
Does this sound like a movie to you?
Inventor: “Thank you for coming to see me…or should I say us…today.”
Reporter: “Well, you told me you had a scoop for me, Professor: what’s up?”
Inventor: “You’re familiar with the use of robots in industry, right?”
Reporter: “Yeah, sure. Those big clunky guys they use on assembly lines.”
Inventor: “Yes, yes, precisely. Well, I want to show you my latest invention. It’s a brand new type of robot…I call him ‘Baxter’.”
Reporter: “Um…is he looking at me?”
Inventor: “In a manner of speaking. He is aware of where you are, thanks to his human presence detection system. It uses sonar, and has a 360 degree sweep.”
Reporter: “But he has eyes.”
Inventor: “Oh, yes…those are a form of feedback: we put those on the screen so you can get a sense of what Baxter is thinking.”
Reporter: “The eyes are the windows of the soul, huh, Professor? Say…does Baxter have a soul?”
Inventor: “Well, I’m afraid that’s not really my area of expertise…I don’t even know if reporters have souls.”
Reporter: “Ha, ha. Okay, Professor, what does this, um…Baxter do?”
Inventor: “Anything you want him to do.”
Reporter: “What do you mean? He can be programmed for different tasks?”
Inventor: “Baxter doesn’t have to be programmed…you can just how him how to do something, and he learns it.”
Reporter: “Oh, come on…next you’ll be telling me flying saucers are real.”
Inventor: “No, no, I mean it. What did you bring with you today?”
Reporter: “Let’s see…I’ve got my notepad, and my camera. I couldn’t get the Chief to assign a photog to this deal.”
Inventor: “Let’s work with the camera, shall we? Put it on the table. Now, I want you to show Baxter how to take a picture.”
Reporter: “Do I just show him, or–“
Inventor: “Actually, if you’ll just move his hands and arms through the motions, he’ll learn how it’s done.”
Reporter: “You mean I should touch him? Isn’t there supposed to be a safety cage or something?”
Inventor: “I assure you, Baxter is perfectly harmless. With his three complementary safety systems, he couldn’t possibly hurt anyone. “
Reporter: “That sounds like famous last words.”
Inventor: “I assure you, it’s all quite scientific.”
Reporter: “In that case, let’s get to it. Okay, Baxter, kid…let’s make a picture bug out of you.”
That might sound like something you’d watch on Archive.org, Baxter is real…and so are all the terms and features I used in the above scene.
I was telling somebody about this robot (you can read about it here):
and they wanted to know if Baxter could clean your house.
Well, the biggest limitation at this point is that Baxter can’t move around by itself, although (unlike most industrial robots) it can be rolled around easily. I think you might be able to teach Baxter to put the dishes away, though. 😉
At a relatively low cost of $22,000, I think we may start seeing Baxter in places for the entertainment value. How about as a fast food cook? At that price, it wouldn’t take long for Baxter to be cheaper than a human…and no worker’s comp claims.
Seriously, if this robot performs as advertised, it could really change things…and it might not have a positive impact on the employment rate in some fields. Although, of course, it would take more than one person to make a Baxter to replace one worker…unless that Baxter is made by other Baxters. 😉
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.