Robots are narrowing the gap with humans

By | April 21, 2009

http://xenophilia.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/253-20web-SCI-ROBOTS-minor.standalone.prod_affiliate.91-2.jpgRobots are gaining on us humans.

Thanks to exponential increases in computer power — which is roughly doubling every two years — robots are getting smarter, more capable, more like flesh-and-blood people.

Matching human skills and intelligence, however, is an enormously difficult — perhaps impossible — challenge.

Nevertheless, robots guided by their own computer “brains” now can pick up and peel bananas, land jumbo jets, steer cars through city traffic, search human DNA for cancer genes, play soccer or the violin, find earthquake victims or explore craters on Mars.

At a “Robobusiness” conference in Boston last week, companies demonstrated a robot firefighter, gardener, receptionist, tour guide and security guard.

You name it, a high-tech wizard somewhere is trying to make a robot do it.

A Japanese housekeeping robot can move chairs, sweep the floor, load a tray of dirty dishes in a dishwasher and put dirty clothes in a washing machine.

Intel, the worldwide computer-chip maker, headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., has developed a self-controlled mobile robot called Herb, the Home Exploring Robotic Butler. Herb can recognize faces and carry out generalized commands such as “please clean this mess,” according to Justin Rattner, Intel’s chief technology officer.

In a talk last year titled “Crossing the Chasm Between Humans and Machines: the Next 40 Years,” the widely respected Rattner lent some credibility to the often-ridiculed effort to make machines as smart as people.

“The industry has taken much greater strides than anyone ever imagined 40 years ago,” Rattner said. It’s conceivable, he added, that “machines could even overtake humans in their ability to reason in the not-so-distant future.”

via Robots are narrowing the gap with humans | McClatchy.

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