Hidden Nook

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Robots Wanted: Humanoid Androids For NASA

[Media Source*]

"Our goal is not for robots to have the same 'thought process' as humans, but rather for them to act, respond and interact more 'naturally' in ways that humans do with other humans. This requires that robots possess traits such as self-awareness (recognition of their limits and when they need to ask for help), and human-awareness (knowing to whom they are talking, and when it is an appropriate time to ask a question)," said Illah Nourbakhsh, a scientist who leads a group developing human-robot teams at NASA Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley.

NASA is trying to build "humanoid" robots in order to aid future colonists on the Moon (as well as Mars) in order to help construct buildings, transportation systems, etc. making life easier for the astronauts dwelling upon the worlds. Although the level they are aiming at is in the range of "C-3PO" and "R2-D2," as far as interaction goes, scientists would probably need something more along the lines of Star Trek's "DATA" if they were to expect colonists to fully cooperate with the androids.

"We believe that by building robots with reasoning mechanisms and representations that are similar to what humans use, we can make human-robot interaction more natural and human-like," said Nourbakhsh.

"These teams will include humans and robots working in close quarters as well as humans controlling and interacting with robots over medium distances and from ground control," Nourbakhsh predicted. "The effectiveness of human-robot interaction will have a major impact on productivity, cost and risk reduction in exploration missions," he explained.

This interaction would probably consist of "master-slave" relations, with humans being the masters and robots getting the "short end of the stick" in order to prevent future realities like The Matrix or I, Robot. Such teams would probably move faster than all human or all robot teams, simply for the fact that the machine could be used as a info source (especially when confronting unfamiliar or dangerous locations) with the humans making judgments based on the information provided.

Creating such groups (if possible) will probably go a long way towards colonizing the moon safely as it is easier to sacrifice a robot (regardless of it's value) than a human being (provided their are no "People for Ethical Treatment of Robots" groups formed).

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By Darnell Clayton • 1:29 PM • Email Post • •


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