Archive for the ‘robots’ Category

Enough of this inauguration and bad business news.  Let’s talk AI.

Here’s a fun read for new approaches and revisions to the Turing Test.

The video helps understand the text.  watch it.

“If we want humanoid robots to teach or have other social functions, we need them to trigger mirror neurons,” Oberman told New Scientist.

This logic doesn’t necessarily hold.

  • Having the biology of humans is not required to produce behavior (we likely just haven’t developed complex enough alternative “biology” to match the human biology)
  • There is a very big ambiguity with the phrases “humanoid” and “social functions”.  That ambiguity makes it difficult to test assumptions and theories
  • AI != Human Ability

Is the goal of AI and robotics to produce humanlike abilities?  I think many AI, robotics and computational complexity folks abandoned that goal a long time ago.  Perhaps it’s attainable, but why would we want to attain humanness in things non human?

Besides, unless something IS human it’s always going to seem to some degree non-human to us.  That statement doesn’t mean that non-human intelligence/complexity/robotics is incapable of complex behavior, learning, socializing, etc. etc.  It means that those behaviors will play out in a way that seems different to us than they do in humans.

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Why haven’t we seen any use of robots for patrol during natural disasters and clean up efforts?

We have the technology.

Perhaps there’s a business in Disaster Relief Robotics.

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Check out this fun read on a genetic robots that “evolved” lying behavior.

Pretty remarkable, but not all that surprising, that it only took 50 generations to get complex communication based on selection by consequences in only 30 “genes”.


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The story about an Atlanta citizen’s self built and deployed “robocop” is a great example in our culture of us lacking a way to talk about behavior.

This story is rich with very clear behaviors and selection by consequences. A great situation to analyze because of its clarity in the details and its implications for public policy, policing, homeless, vigilante law, and robot aids.


  • robot patrol
  • drug dealing
  • prostitution
  • drug use
  • urinating/defecating
  •  water spraying
  • load speaker
  • roaming

“Genetics”/Biology/History (non environmental aspects of the people):

  • drug addiction?
  • illness?
  • STD?
  • drunk/high?
  • no money
  • been in jail before?
  • citizen?
  • worker?
  • parent?


  • late night
  • bar nearby
  • homeless shelter
  • day care center
  • playground
  • downtown Atlanta
  • weather
  • patrol precinct
  • nearby housing
  • pass-through traffic

Reinforcers and Schedule Setting:

  • robot patrol times
  • day care time
  • drug dealer visits
  • when security guard leaves each night
  • police patrols
  • bar closing/opening
  • Color, shape, logo on robot
  • robot size
  • traffic


  • Humiliation
  • Cold water spray
  • Identification
  • Space reduction
  • Assault


If it’s effective at reducing unwanted behaviors (drug dealing, drug use, littering, spreading disease), is this a good public policy?  Is the use of robots to do what our law enforcement doesn’t do for budget or other reasons how we want to alter behaviors?

Will the homeless, drug dealers and other perps habituate to it knowing the robot can’t really do anything? Is threat of arrest an effective reinforcer consider the robot can’t enforce that consequence?  What new behaviors has this generated?  Who should be the one deciding whether a crime might be commited so you should annoy someone/spray someone with the robot? How do you avoid “Minority Report” style crime prevention or do we value prevention of crime that much?

What do the people of this neighborhood value? What does the builder of the robot value? What do the homeless and drug dealers value?

So many questions!

As more cameras, robotic watch dogs and automation enter our citizenship we’re going to need to understand what is going on in these situations.   We lack an analysis strategy in public policy for figuring this out.  It’s an elephant in the room at all levels of government – wiretapping, patriot act, police cams, metal detectors at schools, airport security, social profiling.

Here’s our public policy statement from the article:

Police Major Lane Hagin says the robot is definitely a different crime-fighting idea. “There’s no problem with the robot going up and down the street or being visible or any of the other things it does — with the exception of spraying water on people.”

Hagin adds, “Then, it becomes an assault no matter where it happens.”

If the perps know this, and they do, the effect of the robot is what? and its legally OK to have a private robot patrolling the streets?  Really?


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