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June 28, 2013

Rodney Brooks on Why We Will Rely on Robots




 Robots
At a recent TED Talk, Rodney Brooks pointed out how valuable robots could be as the number of working-age adults drops and the number of retirees swells. He introduces us to Baxter, the robot with eyes that move and arms that react to touch, which could work alongside an aging population -- and learn to help them at home, too.




Scaremongers play on the idea that robots will simply replace people on the job. In fact, they can become our essential collaborators, freeing us up to spend time on less mundane and mechanical challenges.

Rodney Brooks points out how valuable this could be as the number of working-age adults drops and the number of retirees swells. He introduces us to Baxter, the robot with eyes that move and arms that react to touch, which could work alongside an aging population -- and learn to help them at home, too.

The vision Brooks presents sounds very much like the world of the movie, Robot And Frank, where an aging population uses robots both as care-givers and companions.

Robot and Frank

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Former MIT professor, Brooks studies and engineers robot intelligence, looking for the holy grail of robotics: the AGI, or artificial general intelligence. For decades, we've been building robots to do highly specific tasks -- welding, riveting, delivering interoffice mail -- but what we all want, really, is a robot that can figure things out on its own, the way we humans do.

Brooks realized that a top-down approach -- just building the biggest brain possible and teaching it everything we could think of -- would never work. What would work is a robot who learns like we do, by trial and error, and with many separate parts that learn separate jobs. The thesis of his work which was captured in Fast, Cheap and Out of Control, went on to become the title of the great Errol Morris documentary.



A founder of iRobot, makers of the Roomba vacuum, Brooks now heads Rethink Robotics, whose mission is to apply advanced robotic intelligence to manufacturing and physical labor. Its first robot: the versatile Baxter. Brooks is affiliated with CSAIL, MIT's Computers Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.


SOURCE  TED

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