Archive for October, 2010

Robots capable of ‘deceiving humans’

Worrying news from Georgia, America, where boffins report that they have developed robots which are able to “deceive a human”.

“We have been concerned from the very beginning with the ethical implications related to the creation of robots capable of deception and we understand that there are beneficial and deleterious aspects,” says Ronald Arkin, interactive-computing prof at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

“Robots will probably rarely use deception, but it’s still an important tool in the robot’s interactive arsenal because robots that recognize the need for deception have advantages,” adds Arkin’s fellow liar-droid builder, GIT engineer Alan Wagner.

The method chosen by the two men to test their new and mendacious robot algorithms was that of setting one robot to try and hide from another. The fleeing droid would move through a region of prepositioned markers, knocking some of them down and so leaving a trail indicating where it was going.

But the cunning decepto-bots naturally laid false trails, swerving off towards alternative hides once clear of the markers.

“The hider’s set of false communications was defined by selecting a pattern of knocked over markers that indicated a false hiding position,” explains Wagner.

This fiendish plan apparently fooled the hunter droids 75 per cent of the time.

“We have developed algorithms that allow a robot to determine whether it should deceive a human or other intelligent machine and we have designed techniques that help the robot select the best deceptive strategy to reduce its chance of being discovered,” says Arkin, proudly.

“We strongly encourage discussion about the appropriateness of deceptive robots to determine what, if any, regulations or guidelines should constrain the development of these systems,” adds the prof.

So there you have it – conclusive proof that robots are quite capable of lying to or otherwise deceiving their fleshy masters. Don’t trust the machines.

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Swarms of flying robots could act as a mobile wireless network

Sometimes the aftermath of a natural disaster is just as bad as the disaster itself, as the rescue teams on the ground can face a stiff challenge when it comes to communicating with the outside world and one another. Of course, our favorite problem solvers are here to help: tiny flying robots.

This is SMAVNET (Swarming Micro Air Vehicle Network), a project  from Swiss-based lab EPFL, involves a swarm of micro air vehicles that will fly over a disaster site in a holding pattern. The flying ‘bots themselves will act as an ad hoc network, allowing rescue workers to use their phones and computers and the like.

The best part of it all could be how easy the SMAVNET — or Swarming Micro Air Vehicle Network — is to set up. To take off, all they need is one person to chuck them into the air, and they’re light enough that several can be carried at once. When the project is done, the swarm lands, making it as mobile as rescue workers need to be.

Check it out in the video below:

EPFL, via Engadget

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