”Simon” is a robot at the Georgia Institute of Technology that’s involved in a series of projects designed to look at the interaction between robots and humans. Recently, researchers have found that they can program Simon to understand when it has a human’s attention, and when it doesn’t, with nearly 80 percent accuracy.
Basically, Simon can tell if a person is ignoring him (no indication, incidentally, of whether or not this bothers him). This form of social intelligence will be crucial as we continue on our path to robot-human cohabitation. Imagine a world full of oblivious robots, performing duties that humans don’t notice! It’s both sad and terrifying.
Aaron Bobick, professor and chair of the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech: “Other human beings understand turn-taking. They understand that if I make some indication, they’ll turn and face someone when they want to engage with them and they won’t when they don’t want to engage with them. In order for these robots to work with us effectively, they have to obey these same kinds of social conventions, which means they have to perceive the same thing humans perceive in determining how to abide by those conventions.”