Wednesday, December 19, 2007

[ News, Science / Tech, December 15 2007] Robots first

By Arnold Stockard

Several months ago, Seoul announced the candidate chosen to be Korea’s first human space pioneer. This milestone could be seen in a much larger context, one that signaled the nation’s aspirations for its place in terrestrial as well as extraterrestrial history. The significance of the selection was this: robots.

Ko San, who is scheduled to journey aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule to the International Space Station in April next year, is a researcher in artificial intelligence. What he learns about working in aboard the station will be invaluable to building smart machines for space exploration. But as promising as it might seem, artificial intelligence, or AI, as it is commonly known, is still quite underwhelming. For as Marvin Minsky of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said, there is no AI program that can recognize ordinary things as well as a four year-old child can.

Nevertheless, Korean planners have high hopes for AI, still in its infancy 50 years after the concept was introduce, and for robots. Though Korea has made impressive progress with robots, the most telling indicator of their future, as seen from Seoul, is not in the technology of their algorithms, circuitry, optics, processors, gyroscopes, actuators, servos and sensors. Korea’s vision of a future of intelligent machines lies in a Robot Ethics Charter.

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy has found it necessary to draft a document of “ethical guidelines” for robots of “strong intelligence in the near future."

Since the protection of conscious entities from harm is the basis of ethical and legal code, Korea’s charter implies that the strong intelligence referred to by the ministry includes emotional intelligence. A machine possessing emotional intelligence would be, by definition, a conscious entity with the ability to be humorous, to be distraught, to express feelings.

Accelerating technology

Humanoids top list

No comments: