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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Video: Friendly Robots! by Matt McGann '00

Professor Cynthia Breazeal shows off her interactive robots.

The PBS show NOVA scienceNOW had a wonderful story last week on MIT Professor Cynthia Breazeal, Director of the Robotic Life Group. It featured not only her robotic “children” like Leonardo and Kismet but also her human children: sons Ryan and Nathan. This one, I think, is definitely worth watching.

What do you think?

18 responses to “Video: Friendly Robots!”

  1. I’m definitely taking classes on robotics in college, and if I get into MIT, she’s the first person I want to do a UROP with. I’ve been wanting to get more into hardware stuff for a while (I’m more a programmer right now). Awesome clip.

  2. That seems to be a concern that requires more knowledge of human psychology that I can claim to have, however, given my limited knowledge I don’t think that there is reason for concern. First, as far as I know, the current level of AI research does not even approach the creation of a robot that could pass the Turing Test, so I don’t think you need to worry about an AI or I, Robot scenario any time in the near future. How could a robot incapable of a pseudo-intelligent conversation be capable of truly intelligent thought? Second, the type of person that can completely cut themselves off from human interaction would most likely do so with or without a robot friend, and if that is the case, the robots could serve as a therapeutic tool when it is not possible for a person to approach the patient. This may not be the best place for this conversation, so I’ll end by saying that even if the concerns were realistic, I could never allow for the termination of an intellectual endeavor with such a noble objective.

  3. That seems to be a concern that requires more knowledge of human psychology that I can claim to have, however, given my limited knowledge I don’t think that there is reason for concern. First, as far as I know, the current level of AI research does not even approach the creation of a robot that could pass the Turing Test, so I don’t think you need to worry about an AI or I, Robot scenario any time in the near future. How could a robot incapable of a pseudo-intelligent conversation be capable of truly intelligent thought? Second, the type of person that can completely cut themselves off from human interaction would most likely do so with or without a robot friend, and if that is the case, the robots could serve as a therapeutic tool when it is not possible for a person to approach the patient. This may not be the best place for this conversation, so I’ll end by saying that even if the concerns were realistic, I could never allow for the termination of an intellectual endeavor with such a noble objective.

  4. hattie says:

    Oh, I saw a clip about her work at the MIT museum! I want to do robotics at MIT. I saw the robotics labs as I went exploring in CSAIL when I was up there for iGEM. They are SO AWESOME!! Stata center itself is awesome… I love MIT for its amazing undergrad research!

  5. Anonymous says:

    By the way – I didn’t mean to disencourage the program. I think it’s a great idea, I was just wondering how these problems will be solved?

  6. jas says:

    I really liked the clip. And I remembered why I want to be an Engineer. This clip showed me that Engineers can make a difference. Engineers can bring happiness to people’s lives. Look at what Cynthia Breazealis trying to accomplish! Just like that teddy bear “the Huggable”, I wish I could make something like that and help people live in a better world…
    I think it was very nice of you to show us this video clip.

  7. I watched the movie. Like the anonymous response, I have reservations about this program. Definitely, the program is very impressive. Definitely, it will work well. But I am concerned about the implications such ” friendly robots” will have on our society.

    When I watched the movie, I was reminded of the bible verse that says that When GOd created humans, he created them in His image. ( I am not starting a debate about creation vs evolution here) So it is quite natural that if humans were created by God, they would want to create robots in their likeness – friendly robots that can think and feel or perhaps robots with personality according to the personality types ( eg melancholic , seguine …) .

    However, if the robots werer really to become friends, I wonder if that would encourage people to forsake human friends. This is likely when and if we have encountered experiences of tremendous hurt that is caused by close friends. This sad experiences may want to cause us to withdraw from future hman relationships and trust in robot friends, whom we believe cannot and will not betray us. This is my major concern.

    I belive that people may want to have robot friends in place of human ones because of the lack of trust-worthy friends. This would not be good for our society as a whole, I believe. Imagine people trusting robots( machinery) and not humans( their own)- This seems scary to me.

    However, if people can differentiate and know and love their haman friends first and know that robots are but robots ( machhinery) , then perhaps robots can be good. As we spend millions of dollars creating robots, we need to be careful to remember that we are humans. Robots will be different. And if robots promote people to have relationships of distrust among themselves which will eventually breed disunity, we have to think twice.

    To me, I would rather spend my time and effort to find and treasure my human relationships.

    Having watched movies like the Matrix and I- robot, I wonder if robots become too complicated, will they ” rebel” ?

    However, I can be at peace, knowing that a friendly robot costs 1 million. This means that they will not become widely used by the average public in the near future.

    I belive that robots should be functional and user friendly. That is about all. We must be careful about the social implications.

    When the pet died, the 5 year old child cried. Filled with sadness that is seeminly overwhelming, child cries and cries and cries. Will this happen when the robot malfuntions ? After all, all machines malfunction.

    Like all of you, I am applying to go to MIT. I am interested in propulsion and aerodynamics ( aeronautical enginnering)

  8. ICE says:

    Thanks the million! I got a lot of stuff of Leonardo.Leonardo is very cute.

    they had used Intel’s OpenCV library for vision function.I like this open source lib,because it is free ^^

    Recently,I pay more attention to Parallel Embedded Operating system design.I try to abstract hardware-level to software- level with parallel computing support.

    At the end, I am designing a robot, now. but it is very simple than Leonardo,because Leonardo is a result of team effort. I am a lonely guy,recently. crying^,^

    I am small,we are all small,but together we are big.

  9. Ehab says:

    I still haven’t been able to see the video. I wish there was a separate link to download it and watch it later. I have always been fascinated by robots and their internal mechanism, but living in Bangladesh, makes it very difficult to find oppurtunities.

    Regards.

  10. Jojo says:

    Hi, Jacquelynn Tian,

    I am deeply touched by your post. I also treasure Human relationship and human beings a lot more than anything that can substitute them. If we both get into MIT, would you like me to be your roommate? Best wishes for both of us! I will even pray for you and me to be both admitted. BTW my favorite book is the Bible.

  11. Anonymous says:

    “I am deeply touched by your post. I also treasure Human relationship and human beings a lot more than anything that can substitute them. If we both get into MIT, would you like me to be your roommate? Best wishes for both of us! I will even pray for you and me to be both admitted. BTW my favorite book is the Bible.”

    If you both got into MIT then i am not coming…

  12. Hi Jojo, I am very touched by your personal response. Send me an email if you wish . Lets be frens smile [email protected]/ [email protected]

    And Dear Louis, I would like to assure you that my posting was not to discourage the program. I understand that you have great passion, zeast and even love for robotics. So I do want to let you know that it is just my concern- that is all. Hope you are not offended or anything smile I really wish that we get to do what we aspire to do.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I’ve got a question about the self reported coursework section. It says to include term and/or final grades. Should we go with the and? Or the or?

    For example, if we had three trimesters of grades for one class, say an A-, a B+ and an A, with a final grade of A-, should we list it as A-, B+, A, A-? Or A-, B+, A, final grade A-? Or just say A-?

    Sorry, I just don’t want to do it wrong.

  14. Hi
    I am an international student, therefore I wrote ‘SAT Subject Tests’ [Math Level 2 = 800, Physics=800, Chemistry=770]. I will write SAT Reasoning and TOEFL. Which one of the two, SAT Reasoning or TOEFL, would you consider during the admission process; moreover what if there is a big difference in SAT score and TOEFL score? For instance: if I get 2000 in SAT and 110+ [out of 120] in iBT TOEFL, would the low score in SAT decrease the chances of my admission to MIT despite a relatively much better TOEFL score; please note that English isn’t my first language, so while I am sure I’ll score 800 in Maths in the SAT Reasoning Test, I won’t be able to score equally high in Critical Reasoning and Writing Section. I have written a paper; might I submit the paper or should I submit a summary of paper?

  15. Hi
    I am an international student, therefore I wrote ‘SAT Subject Tests’ [Math Level 2 = 800, Physics=800, Chemistry=770]. I will write SAT Reasoning and TOEFL. Which one of the two, SAT Reasoning or TOEFL, would you consider during the admission process; moreover what if there is a big difference in SAT score and TOEFL score? For instance: if I get 2000 in SAT and 110+ [out of 120] in iBT TOEFL, would the low score in SAT decrease the chances of my admission to MIT despite a relatively much better TOEFL score; please note that English isn’t my first language, so while I am sure I’ll score 800 in Maths in the SAT Reasoning Test, I won’t be able to score equally high in Critical Reasoning and Writing Section. I have written a paper; might I submit the paper or should I submit a summary of paper?

  16. To the person, who posted as anonymous…
    I believe MIT is big enough for all of us to co-exist harmoniously, whatever the differences may be. Pls do not let me become a hindrance to your dreams. That is all I have to say. After all, differences ( and agreement to disagree ) help to breed a vibrant and open culture , which is beneficial. And I think having a vibrant and open culture is what sets America apart from the rest of the world and helped her to do so well and achieve so much in such a short time.

  17. ICE says:

    I have found a nice book about robot area.

    ANATOMY OF A ROBOT

    CHARLES M. BERGREN
    McGraw-Hill
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