You've probably heard of Watson, the computer that went head-to-head with humans on Jeopardy. You know that robots are increasingly used in manufacturing around the country and around the world. But have you ever heard of a robot sketch comedian?
Well, meet Data. Also joining us is Data's handler, Heather Knight, a doctoral researcher in robotics at Carnegie-Mellon who studies the intersection of entertainment and robotics.
Check out the video for Data's comedy sketch, then read my interview with Heather Knight.
Fareed Zakaria: OK. So Heather, that was pretty amusing, but mostly just fascinating. Now, you wrote the routine for Data, but his reactions are sort of natural. His sensors work so that he can sense the audience's reaction.
Heather Knight: Right. Yes.
Fareed Zakaria: Explain how that works.
Heather Knight: So, like robots can learn through lots of data. In some of my work, I've been using each member of the audience as kind of a data point for machine learning. So in the reactions of a large group of people to a robot performer on stage, a robot could potentially learn to be more charismatic and more effective communicator and also be able to shape a performance for an individual group of people.
So there can be visual feedback, which is kind of conscious or we could make an iPhone app for your giving feedback along the way, like "I love that joke." You could rate things more, like Netflix style.
Fareed Zakaria: And – and the robot would, in effect, incorporate that information and tell more of the jokes that you like and fewer of the ones you don't – sort of like Pandora, with the thumbs up or thumbs down.
Heather Knight: Absolutely. Or you can even try telling jokes with a different set of gestures and see that joke is 10 times as funny for an audience.
Fareed Zakaria: Now, all of this sort of can be filed under artificial intelligence, and earlier this year, Watson, the IBM super computer, beat its human competitors in Jeopardy. So how sophisticated are we getting here?
Heather Knight: Well, I think that those two projects are actually great tandem projects. Watson is great at searching databases, and one of the things that I'm trying to do with the audience is generate some of those databases and also specifically generate them around social expression. So a machine can know how to actually communicate effectively with us, and so we don't have to adapt to using a screen or using a keyboard. They can learn how to work the way that we do.
Fareed Zakaria: Now, there are people, of course, who worry about something called the singularity. That is, the moment where robots will actually become smarter than humans, and will be able to learn and keep learning. Is that really going to happen?
Heather Knight: Do all parents feel that way about their children? I just wonder sometimes. I do feel like the way that we raise technology and the applications we use them for and the storytelling we think about in the creation of new technology will help us shape the direction that it's used. And we're not on the cusp of singularity at this very moment, but I do think that when you put people and robots together in teams, we can achieve much more than either of us can do alone. We're still very unique.
Fareed Zakaria: Heather Knight, Data, thank you very much.
Robots are good as tools, but boring as "companions". I'll rather have animals!
Toy robots have been doing this nearly a decade. So it can react to laughter? Thats what laugh meters have been doing on game shows for 50 years.
DUDE: ITS A TAPE. A TAPE. He doesn't make anything up. If laugh then play sound 1; if no laugh then play sound 2.
ITS A TAPE.
Please report on news and don't report on non-news.
Did you actually read the article or just watch the video?
So this is your idea of what is required of a computer science degree? sad
And cars are just wheels, and have been for 50+ years. And cell phones are just telephones without a wire. And computers are just big calculators. And war is just people shooting at each other. That's why you don't see any news articles about any of them either.
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Fareed should stick to writing about things in which he has _some_ idea about ... Which seems to be nothing.
I have been seaching the web to see if nooemse posted a video of Molly Ivins memorial service, but found none. I happened on to your site and thought I would ask you. Thanks for any information.
I AM FUNNYBOT!
Did you hear that the governor's mansion in Alabama burned down? It pretty much took out the whole trailer park.
The robot skeleton Geoff Peterson was hysterical last night on The Late Late Show on CBS, and did part of his act as a drunk robot (I had to wonder who held the bucket under him?). But in all fairness, Geoff can't get more than 10 feet from an electrical outlet, and I suspect he has WI-FI handlers backstage. The fact that his movements are limited is an ongoing gag in his skits, too ("I can't bow – I hate you!). The question in my mind is: Do I really want a mobile comic robot who can get away from a wall? Will it follow the last audience member out of the auditorium to get more input? Hmmm. But it is a cute little data cruncher.
"Data" – How original and creative...
Finally, a truly hot geek!
Let's see more of Heather.
No kidding... my computer science department sure didn't look like that.
How depressing. Now he will be after my job. Oh, what's the point?
Have you heard about Data's backstage demands? He has a thing for 4-slot toasters. Sick.
that was painful...
They just let her on the show because she's hot. If she were a geek with pimples and glasses, this story would have never seen the light of day.
This is ridiculous and this lady is like many technos lives in an ivory tower and out of touch with humanity. Comedy is based in the reconciling of truth and chaos that exist within REAL HUMAN BEINGS. This by definition can never be rivaled or replaced by a machine. You may assign attributes of comic behavior to machines, but the are only tools and nothing more.
I find it sad that she would refer to a collection of circuits as a "child." Instead of putting our efforts into creating fake children, shouldn't we be taking care of the many millions of suffering REAL CHILDREN?
The Global Public Square is where you can make sense of the world every day with insights and explanations from CNN's Fareed Zakaria, leading journalists at CNN, and other international thinkers. Join GPS editor Jason Miks and get informed about global issues, exposed to unique stories, and engaged with diverse and original perspectives.
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