Now you could soon be chit-chatting and making friends with robots on Facbook, helping bridge the so-called “divide between humans and machine”. Yes! This sounds unreal, but it’s true.
The man behind the idea of coupling robots with social networks?
Dr. Nikolaus Mavridis!
- Research indicates that humans lose interest in robots after about a week because of their programmed behavioral patterns.
- Dr. Mavridis, along with a few other co-researchers, is looking to explore new ways to do away with the human unwillingness to stay in touch with robots.
- Researchers want to take a deeper dive into this by having humans and robots deal with the same circle of friends and a pool of shared memories.
Which means – now robots will have a Facebook profile of their own too!
The platform for exploring
- A robot that can recognize faces (which is created by Dr. Mavridis and colleagues from the Interactive Robots and Media Lab (IRML) at the University of the UAE, along with co-workers in Germany & Greece).
- This is based around a PeopleBot machine from ActivRobots, to which they have also added a range finder, touch screen and stereo camera.
- The current prototype is called “Sarah.” When the project begins, this will be swapped for a machine with the face of an Arabic scholar – Ibn Sina aka Avicenna.
Software modules for the robot
- To help the robot recognize the faces of real people or the photographs users place of themselves on Facebook.
- To help the robot carry on real-time conversations using a language module.
- To help the robot maintain a database of its friends and their social relationships based on information it gets from Facebook. This social database will also keep its own Facebook profile up to date.
In a month long trial for this robot, Dr Mavridis wants to let Ibn Sina wander around IRML talking to people it meets and trying to get to know those that it does not. When it meets anyone for the first time it will check on Facebook to see if they have a profile page and use what it finds there as the starting point for a conversation.
This is the world we live in – the world of technology and innovation, where something new is happening every day, every minute. While the robot-human engagement has happened before a lot of times, but never before have we seen anything like this on a social networking site. Whether or not this will foster a meaningful “friendship” between humans and machine, can only be seen in course of time. I am quite excited to see how this research and experiment progresses.