How to teach a ROBOTS to clean a child’s messy bedrooms (and it’s surprisingly difficult!) Japanese tech start-up is using deep learning to teach AI how to deal with disorder and chaos
- A Japanese company is trying to teach machines to bring order to chaos
- Robots are very good at dealing with menial tasks but they cannot handle mess
- They use the same artificial intelligence for self-driving cars and smart factories
- This machine learning is where algorithms inspired by the human brain learn from large amounts of data so they’re able to perform tasks, eg, clean mess
A Japanese tech start-up is using deep learning to teach a pair of machines how to maintain household peace and bring order to the chaos of a child’s bedroom.
This machine learning is where algorithms, which have been inspired by the human brain, learn from large amounts of data so they’re able to perform complex tasks.
Though it may seem like a simple, though tedious, task for a human, robots find this type of job surprisingly tricky.
Some tasks, like welding car chassis in the exact same way day after day, are easy for robots as it is a repetitive process and the machines do not suffer with boredom in the same way as disgruntled employees.
But the range of tasks they can accomplish is still limited because, when presented with a messy, disordered world, they become perplexed and are unable to achieve their goal as the algorithms fail.
This limits the tasks they can do in factories, so the same Artificial Intelligence used in self-driving cars and smart factories is now being used to teach them about chaos.
Footage, part of the BBC’s Disruptors series, shows the robots in a child’s bedroom and cleaning it.
In a basement in Tokyo, the researchers, from Preferred Networks, have been applying a species of artificial intelligence to teach robots how to deal with disordered objects – or things they have never seen before.
They have to identify every object, strewn in random places all over the room and then figure out how to pick them up, and then finally, place them in the appropriate bins or boxes.
The company said that the robots work slowly and are easily defeated by things they don’t know.
For example, they failed to recognise a sock, which was larger and more colourful than the socks it had encountered before.
Nonetheless, the company’s founder and chief executive, Toru Nishikawa, hopes to start selling these tidy-up robots ‘within five years’.
Investors in the firm include Fanuc, the Japanese company whose robot arms work at tasks in many of the world’s most advanced factories.
They both plan to develop a futuristic factory of robots armed with AI-based self-learning capability.
‘Technology is advancing significantly and it will become even more important to learn not only about software but also hardware,’ said Mr Nishikawa.
Though it may seem like a simple, though tedious, task for a human, robots find this type of job surprisingly tricky. Doing repetitive tasks, like some factory jobs, such as welding identical car chassis in the exact same way day after day, is easy for robots because they don’t get bored
But their range of tasks they can accomplish is still limited because presenting them with a messy, disordered world, they become perplexed and unable to achieve it. This limits the tasks they can do in factories
Fanuc and Preferred Networks have had a research alliance since 2015, applying deep learning technology to the refinement and improvement of industrial robots.
Sales of industrial robots have more than doubled in the past five years, according to the International Federation of Robotics.
The new World Robotics Report shows that a new record high of 381,000 units were shipped globally in 2017 – an increase of 30 per cent from the previous year.
The five major markets representing 73 per cent of the total sales volume in 2017 were China, Japan, South Korea, the United States and Germany.
WHY ARE PEOPLE SO WORRIED ABOUT AI?
It is an issue troubling some of the greatest minds in the world at the moment, from Bill Gates to Elon Musk.
SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk described AI as our ‘biggest existential threat’ and likened its development as ‘summoning the demon’.
He believes super intelligent machines could use humans as pets.
Professor Stephen Hawking said it is a ‘near certainty’ that a major technological disaster will threaten humanity in the next 1,000 to 10,000 years.
They could steal jobs
More than 60 percent of people fear that robots will lead to there being fewer jobs in the next ten years, according to a 2016 YouGov survey.
And 27 percent predict that it will decrease the number of jobs ‘a lot’ with previous research suggesting admin and service sector workers will be the hardest hit.
As well as posing a threat to our jobs, other experts believe AI could ‘go rogue’ and become too complex for scientists to understand.
A quarter of the respondents predicted robots will become part of everyday life in just 11 to 20 years, with 18 percent predicting this will happen within the next decade.
They could ‘go rogue’
Computer scientist Professor Michael Wooldridge said AI machines could become so intricate that engineers don’t fully understand how they work.
If experts don’t understand how AI algorithms function, they won’t be able to predict when they fail.
This means driverless cars or intelligent robots could make unpredictable ‘out of character’ decisions during critical moments, which could put people in danger.
For instance, the AI behind a driverless car could choose to swerve into pedestrians or crash into barriers instead of deciding to drive sensibly.
They could wipe out humanity
Some people believe AI will wipe out humans completely.
‘Eventually, I think human extinction will probably occur, and technology will likely play a part in this,’ DeepMind’s Shane Legg said in a recent interview.
He singled out artificial intelligence, or AI, as the ‘number one risk for this century’.
Musk warned that AI poses more of a threat to humanity than North Korea.
‘If you’re not concerned about AI safety, you should be. Vastly more risk than North Korea,’ the 46-year-old wrote on Twitter.
‘Nobody likes being regulated, but everything (cars, planes, food, drugs, etc) that’s a danger to the public is regulated. AI should be too.’
Musk has consistently advocated for governments and private institutions to apply regulations on AI technology.
He has argued that controls are necessary in order protect machines from advancing out of human control
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