A robot predicts partner’s action like long-time couples do, study finds

The observing robot could predict its partner’s path 98 out of 100 times, in different situations

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A robot has learned to predict its partner’s future actions and goals, purely by visual observation.

Researchers at Columbia Engineering first created a robot, and placed it in 3×2 feet sized playpen. They programmed it to move towards any green circle it could see.

Sometimes the robot moved directly towards a green circle. When the circle was blocked, the robot would move towards a different green circle or stop moving.

The observing robot could predict its partner’s path 98 out of 100 times, in different situations. It made the predictions in the form of images, rather than words, to avoid the challenges of human language.

“The ability of the observer to put itself in its partner’s shoes, so to speak, and understand, without being guided, whether its partner could or could not see the green circle from its vantage point, is perhaps a primitive form of empathy,” said Boyuan Chen, lead author of the study.

However, researchers are of the view that robots are will not remain as passive instruction-following machines for long, which might raise ethical questions.

Also Read | Samsung’s new robot can serve you a drink

The study’s co-author Hod Lipson acknowledges that robots may also learn to manipulate humans’ thoughts if they can anticipate how we think.

“Like other forms of advanced AI, we hope that policymakers can help keep this kind of technology in check, so that we can all benefit,” Lipson added.

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