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The Conversation, on robot personality

The Conversation, on robot personality

Will robots make good friends? Scientists are already starting to find out Gennady Danilkin/Shutterstock Tony Prescott, University of Sheffield In the 2012 film “Robot and Frank”, the protagonist, a retired cat burglar named Frank, is suffering the early symptoms of dementia. Concerned and guilty, his son buys him a “home robot” that can talk, do household chores like cooking and cleaning, and reminds Frank to take his medicine. It’s a robot the likes of which we’re getting closer to building

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The Conversation, on Toddlers and Tablets

Touchscreens may make toddlers more distractible – new three-year study riggleton/Shutterstock Ana Maria Portugal, Karolinska Institutet; Rachael Bedford, University of Bath, and Tim J. Smith, Birkbeck, University of London Working from home as a parent, a touchscreen device can be a marvellous tool. Pass one to your child, and they’ll be quietly occupied for your Zoom meeting, or for the crunch time as you approach an important deadline. Yet touchscreens can also feel like a tradeoff for parents, who have

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The Conversation, on Machine Learning and Failure

Artificial intelligence must not be allowed to replace the imperfection of human empathy Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, SOAS, University of London At the heart of the development of AI appears to be a search for perfection. And it could be just as dangerous to humanity as the one that came from philosophical and pseudoscientific ideas of the 19th and early 20th centuries and led to the horrors of colonialism, world war and the Holocaust. Instead of a human ruling “master race”, we

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The Conversation, on Robot Evolution

We’re teaching robots to evolve autonomously – so they can adapt to life alone on distant planets  In the future, robots we’ve programmed may evolve and multiply on distant planets. SquareMotion/Shutterstock Emma Hart, Edinburgh Napier University It’s been suggested that an advance party of robots will be needed if humans are ever to settle on other planets. Sent ahead to create conditions favourable for humankind, these robots will need to be tough, adaptable and recyclable if they’re to survive within

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The Conversation, on Robot Communication

An army of sewer robots could keep our pipes clean, but they’ll need to learn to communicate Pipebots will inspect the walls for cracks. Human Studio, Author provided Viktor Doychinov, University of Leeds Hidden from sight, under the UK’s roads, buildings and parks, lies about one million kilometres of pipes. Maintaining and repairing these pipes require about 1.5 million road excavations a year, which causes either full or partial road closures. These works are noisy, dirty and cause a lot

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The Conversation, on Artificial Intelligence and Space Exploration

Five ways artificial intelligence can help space exploration Various types of astronaut assistant are in development. Michal Bednarek/shutterstock.com Deep Bandivadekar, University of Strathclyde and Audrey Berquand, University of Strathclyde Artificial intelligence has been making waves in recent years, enabling us to solve problems faster than traditional computing could ever allow. Recently, for example, Google’s artificial intelligence subsidiary DeepMind developed AlphaFold2, a program which solved the protein-folding problem. This is a problem which has had baffled scientists for 50 years. Advances

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The Conversation, on Fearing Robots

Robots were dreamt up 100 years ago – why haven’t our fears about them changed since? Pavel Chagochkin/Shutterstock.com Michael Szollosy, University of Sheffield This is a story you will have heard before. A genius but completely mad scientist – with the backing of a ruthlessly greedy corporation – creates a sentient robot. The scientist’s intentions for the robot are noble: to help us work, to save us from mundane tasks, to serve its human masters. But the scientist is over-confident,

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The Conversation, on Digital Currencies using BlockChain

Ethereum: what is it and why has the price gone parabolic? Welcome to web 3.0. Inked Pixels Paul J Ennis, University College Dublin and Donncha Kavanagh, University College Dublin The price of the world’s second largest cryptocurrency, ether, hit a new all-time high of US$1,440 (£1,050) on January 19. This breached a previous high set three years ago and gave ether a total value (market capitalisation) of US$160 billion, although it has since fallen back to around US$140 billion. Ether,

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New Year? New Infrastructure – 2021

Adieu 2020! The year 2021 is only a few weeks away now and many organisations large and small are still looking to consider further digital transformation plans for next year. Old technology will still affect your performance as a business with or without Covid-19 How can you consistently and reliably transform across a distributed workforce though? Planning. Not a sexy answer, but incredibly effective. If you want to, for example, take advantage of Dell’s Financial Services offering to allow you

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The Conversation, on nanotechnology and viruses

Coronavirus nanoscience: the tiny technologies tackling a global pandemic Kateryna Kon/Shutterstock Josh Davies, Cardiff University The world-altering coronavirus behind the COVID-19 pandemic is thought to be just 60 nanometres to 120 nanometres in size. This is so mind bogglingly small that you could fit more than 400 of these virus particles into the width of a single hair on your head. In fact, coronaviruses are so small that we can’t see them with normal microscopes and require much fancier electron

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