Preparing for CUTC lecture

I will be speaking at the Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference (CUTC) later this month. So I need to prepare a talk. I’ll try to use this blog to gather my thoughts…and hopefully that works.

To begin, an outline – please feel free to contribute and correct me…at this point it’s a bit too bold for what I am able to defend:

  • I want to talk about autonomy
  • Machines are getting smarter, and doing more which means we become more like the intuition, or decision-making system for them
    • Possible Futures:
      • Dick/Aasimov – machines serve us – see Bicentenial Man/Blade Runner
        • this is the project we think we are working on
          • roombas and aibo’s and more stupid crap for the world
        • we are mistaken – there’s really only one machine…the network, with different parts
          • a good design must account for its utility in the network
      • Minority Report – machines give us omniscience
      • 2001/Terminator – Total AI: we are superfluous, external to the machine
        • difficult to imagine for a long, long time…because we humans are such incredibly smart beings, and therefor useful to machines
        • why on earth do machines need to hurt us? Our relationship with them is symbiotic…co-evolutionary.
          • like cleaner fish
      • Matrix – we are the buckets of life-pudding that feed the machine
        • Some serious scientists believe this – Kurzweil’s Singularity
        • Already happened to a degree – with all the billions of dens of the world
      • Of course, reality will likely be far different than what we currently imagine,
        • science fiction comments more on the present than it does on the future
        • NB. These futures are not mutually exclusive – you may be omniscient, and be pudding life.
        • but there are lessons in each of these which we should pay attention to
        • because here we are now envisioning problems for the future that we are able to respond to before we create that future.
  • We need autonomous machines which are good for us
    • not just AUVs (aka drones)
      • they should support us in our health and well-being
      • challenging! Easy to destroy, difficult to create…empathy.
  • That’s why there’s so much interest in social robotics at present
    • Breazeal’s kismet
    • Paro
    • Japanese dude with fake skin fetish
  • But current state is a bit off
    • Its not particularly interesting in its construction
      • bicentenial man
    • It doesn’t work
      • too much focus on mimetic features, both emotional and appearance
        • look at Breazeal video
        • Causes the Uncanny Valley
  • Sociability requires genuine empathy for the machines and by the machines
  • State of haptic social robots Examples:
    • Huggable (what you’d expect…looks like creature, but design doesn’t reflect sensitivities or allow stimulation)
    • sex toys (induce actual sensations)
    • OMO (a nice bridge between the two, but low-resolution)
  • the first task is not so difficult. We are already prone to it…see paper by dude …also think Anthropomorphism
    • this is what the experts get so wrong…they argue that it must be like a human in order to relate to it…
      • I think they like most of us are stuck in their own references of what a robot looks like…C3P0
    • Second task is very hard
      • emotions are hard enough to detect, (especially for guys)
      • need to be instrumental to the machine
      • Touch is promising solution
        • Touch is primary to emotion and feelings
        • Touch fundamental/primary to communication.
        • Touch primary to action
        • Computable
        • Instrumental
        • Touch is healthful…acknowledges the existence of the body
          • TV was passive low-point of culture
  • From this we posit ADB.
    • Touch affective robot
    • multiple degrees of freedom
    • higher resolution (not super-high)
    • tightly coupled sense and affect
    • critiques – could be another piece of crap
      • but my intentions are not to have one in the hands of every person
      • it is a learning tool more than anything else
    • It allows the body of external knowledge, to know about our bodies, our movements and its connection to our desires, emotions and our humanity.
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