[ExI] Oxford scientists edge toward quantum PC with 10b qubits.

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Fri Feb 4 16:21:12 UTC 2011

On Tue, Feb 1, 2011 at 4:09 PM, spike wrote:
> Ja.  The reason I think we are talking past each other is that we are
> describing two very different things when we are talking about human level
> intelligence.  I am looking for something that can provide companionship for
> an impaired human, whereas I think Richard is talking about software which
> can write software.
> If one goes to the nursing home, there are plenty of human level
> intelligences there, lonely and bored.  I speculate you could go right now
> to the local nursing home, round up arbitrarily many residents there, and
> find no ability to write a single line of code.  If you managed to find a
> long retired Fortran programmer, I speculate you would find nothing there
> who could be the least bit of help coding your latest video game.
> I think we are close to writing software which would provide the nursing
> home residents with some degree of comfort and something interesting to talk
> to.  Hell people talk to pets when other humans won't listen.  We can do
> better than a poodle.

There are many research projects running to develop robot aids and
companions for the elderly.  It is a huge market and rapidly becoming
an essential market for the rapidly ageing first world societies. Soon
there just won't be enough younger people to care for the elders. As
well, the non-carers will be too busy working two or three jobs to pay
off the national debt to have spare time to visit the elders.

But most current care robots are too limited and the elders don't like
them. *Real* robots seem to still be years away.

The only one which is available now and has had a few thousand
commercial sales is PARO, the animatronic baby seal companion robot.
Now available in the US and being tested in many care homes.


AIST originally experimented with building animatronic cats and dogs
as the obvious companions of choice, but quickly found that while such
familiar animals were initially charming, they lost their appeal when
people automatically started comparing them with real animals.

The baby seal form is familiar enough to be cute and adorable, but
because most people don't know exactly how real baby seals behave,
it's easier to get across the comparison boundary and just enjoy the
fluffy little robots for what they are.

He's programmed to behave as much as possible like a real animal,
waking up a little dazed and confused, enjoying cuddles and pats,
complaining if he wants attention or 'food' (a battery charge), and
reacting with fear and anger to being hit. He gradually learns to
respond to whatever name you keep calling him, as well as various
other audio cues like greetings and praise.

PARO knows where you're patting him and reacts accordingly, nuzzling
up to your hand or wriggling away if you're touching him in places he
doesn't like. He closes his eyes and snuggles up when he's happy and
content, and gets angry if he feels mistreated. He blinks and bats his
big eyelashes at you and meeps pitifully for affection. He
particularly likes being treated and petted in familiar ways, which is
a crucial part of developing a long-term relationship with his owners.

PARO's remarkable ability to cheer you up (yes, you, whether you like
it or not. This little fella really gets under your skin) is
disturbingly powerful right now - and of course, there's going to be a
version 2, 3, 4 and 5 in the next few years that will be even better
at the job.



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