Friday, January 3, 2014

Is I Robot coming?

Google has been in the news a lot lately for buying a number of robotics companies. If you're not familiar, just search "google robotics" and read an article similar to, "Google plans to take over the world with advanced robotic war machines" (or something that sounds catchier with the same meaning).

Basically, google purchased a company that builds robots (pretty advanced ones, some of them pretty creepy at the time of this writing), which sparked a lot of discussion about which Sci Fi movies were coming and if we have to start worrying about terminator or I Robot coming true.

We're still pretty far off from either of those. Don't get me wrong, Google's robot's are still scary and could be dangerous, but they're not going to be creepy in the way I Robot or Terminator was. Google's robot's have strong movement ability, agility, and are able to carry a lot of weight. But they're not advanced in AI or human interaction.

These robots are really no different than a UAV or a car with a remote control, they've just developed different methods of locomotion. There's no intelligence there, no ability to decide to kill their human masters and turn them into batteries.

What should actually scare us are things like IBM's Watson which played jeopardy really well.

Even though Watson might just look like a box it's ability to correlate events and answer questions is a lot closer to what makes I Robot and Terminator scary. The advances IBM made building Watson brought us closer to I Robot than any "big dog" running around a parking lot. I guess the lesson here is to package your robots cute so people won't panic.

NOTE: There's another article about what makes robots creepy, but hopefully I'll have another post on that later.