Hip Hop Jamming With Robots


Artificial intelligence has been so far depicted in movies as evil robots brutally taking over our planet and transforming humans into their slaves. Robots should be this scary and mean entity that once it develops further than the human intelligence, where it actually emerged from, it will definitely try to overtake its own creator. But this year we’ve witnessed something totally different.

One of the most thoughtful on-screen exploration of artificial intelligence was this year’s movie “Her” directed by Spike Jonze who actually got his inspiration from a few TED Talks on brain mapping and engineering by futurist Ray Kurzweil. The movie investigates the romantic relationship between a human and a sentient operating system by rendering a robots’ learning mechanism of developing emotions and self-expression. If you’ve already watched the movie you’re probably asking yourself whether this actually might become our future. Can there be artificial consciousness? Next week, on the TEDxVienna blog we will try to have this question answered for you so stay tuned.

Robots with “soul”

But in the meantime, we invited you to take a first glance into the subject by watching Guy Hoffman‘s TEDx Talk, an animator, musician roboticist that researched embodied cognition and intelligence in robots and created some amazing examples of human-robot interactions reproducing the way humans interact with each other with an incredible accuracy.

Hoffman started his investigation of the human-tech interaction on the premise that the relationship between humans and robots is something like a chess game where the human does a thing, the robot analyzes it, decides what to do next, plans it and does it, while the human waits and eventually reacts upon the robot’s action. By adding the concept of embodied cognition to his research and robot designing endeavours, where using the human body feeds the brain with information on what the next movement should be, he managed to replicate the spontaneity of the human behaviour into the one of a robot.

The four videos in his talk show how a robotized lamp acts like an apprentice that helps him work, a robot that responds to emotions expressed by human beings in a mind-blowingly accurate way and how socially expressive robots can create music and express feelings based on the sounds they intuitively improvise.

An even more amazing result of his research was the fact that people who had contact with his beautifully designed robots, unconsciously started to personify them by calling the robots “her” or “him” and said they could better connect with those robots that showed a more fluent and engaging behaviour and even made mistakes they eventually corrected, rather than with those that made no mistakes because of their “calculated brain”. Sounds a lot like the movie “Her”, doesn’t it?

Image credits: Header royalty free

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