On the Robot Beat #2: more human than us, California driving

On the Robot Beat #2: more human than us, California driving

robot is something created by humans (directly or indirectly) that performs tasks (autonomously or not) done by humans (or, more broadly, by other animals…a robot dog, for example, would perform work done by living dogs, including providing companionship). 

The word may conjure up an image of a mechanical man, perhaps clunky and made of metal. The way we use the term at The Measured Circle, it would include software performing human tasks, and non-anthropomorphic devices like an answering machine or a calculator.

On the Robot Beat presents news about our creations that are, even in small ways, replacing us.

California takes the next step towards robot cars

“L.A. is a great big freeway
You can watch a robot drive a car”

In an important move, California’s Governor Jerry Brown has signed

Senate Bill 1298

This specifically spells out a process for testing and certifying autonomous vehicles in the State.

While it still requires that a human driver be behind the wheel (or, at least, able to take control quickly), we are moving towards a future of driverless (well, human-driverless) cars.

This has huge potential advantages.

First, there is the obvious plus of being able to do other things while your car drives you to work.

Second, the cars are far better drivers than we are, and that will only increase. With proper avoidance systems, they can drive much closer together and much faster. Cars driving 100 miles an hour in residential areas safely is a possibility. Road fatalities and other accidents could be greatly reduced.

Third, imagine how it would change urban driving if your car could take you to work…and then you could tell it to go home and get you later? San Francisco talks, from time to time, about banning cars downtown. That whole situation changes if you don’t need parking lots near where people work.

Fourth, and this may be the most important, people could have access to cars who don’t have them now. Blind people, children, those with mental challenges, could all be safely driven by cars. As has been suggested by a Google exec, this also could eventually end drunk driving (as long as the impaired person can’t take over the car, of course).

I’ve been on the road with Google cars near where I live…I think we’ll see this as a significant part of our lives within ten years.

More human than humans

How long will it be before AI (Artificial Intelligence) robots are as human as we are?

Too late…they are already more human. 😉

I just have not been able to get non-geeks excited about this, despite bringing it up several times.

The basic idea is that a couple of AI bots participated in a videogame, Unreal Tournament. When a human player encountered another player they thought was human, they tagged it as human.

The two bots got an average humanness score of 52%.

The average actual human got 40%.

This is a fascinating development. AI systems can learn, but the hard part here as far as I am concerned, would be to figure out what would get them tagged as human. We’ve been arguing for centuries about what is human. Is it tool using? Well, some animals do that. Is it language? Some animals have been able to do that.

The basic thing would be to let the bots know that being tagged as human was the good thing…not, by the way, killing as many bad guys as possible (that’s not human).

These characters interacted with players…and again, they were more likely to be perceived as human than the players who were Homo sapiens.

Eventually, this will mean AI bots answering your e-mail for you…and perhaps, people not believing it’s really you when you actually answer it. 😉

Wired.Co.UK article

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.


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