Scientists striving to put a human face on the robot generation Social Robotics has its roots in the mid-20th century work of William Grey Walter, a neurophysiologist and roboticist who constructed autonomous electronic robots to demonstrate that complex behavior could arise from robust connectivity between just a few neurons. As robots became more sophisticated and animations more realistic, it was found that our empathy for these human analogues grew with their similarity to ourselves. But there’s a catch: As robots become increasingly humanoid in appearance and behavior past a certain point, a phenomenon known as the uncanny valley emerges. A phrase introduced in 1970 by robotics professor Masahiro Mori, the uncanny valley is best described as the reaction we have to robotic appearance or behavior when it is perceived as almost human. The gap between barely human and fully human leaves us feeling uneasy as a result of the way evolution has shaped our brains when perceiving familiarity – especially that of anthropomorphic forms. As Mori wrote in his original paper about a prosthetic hand that is lifelike o the eye but not to the touch (and as translated by Karl F. MacDorman and Takashi Minato), “In mathematical terms, strangeness can be represented by negative familiarity, so the prosthetic hand is at the bottom of the valley. So in this case, the appearance is quite human like, but the familiarity is negative. This is the uncanny valley.This experience of strangeness or even revulsion in turn prevents us from experiencing empathy for the robot or animation – and empathy is essential for optimal human/robot social interactions. In terms of robot behavior, this means that social robots must successfully operate with the complex web of societal rules that humans learn primarily through implicit experience rather than explicit programming. At a recent New York Academy of Sciences event, Familiar but Strange: Exploring our Relationships with Robots, two exceptional speakers – roboticist extraordinaire Heather Knight and motion capture, computer vision and animation wizard Christoph Bregler – explored this mysterious space in considerable depth. (PhysOrg.com) — From science fiction and academia through assembly lines and telemedicine, robots have become both conceptually and physically ubiquitous. Technologically, robotics technology has advanced dramatically since the time of their namesake introduction in R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), a 1920 Czech-language science fiction (which nonetheless was conceptually quite visionary, since the robots it depicted were biological, and therefore essentially synthetic humans) in which robot was the English version of robota, meaning forced labor, in turn derived from rab, or slave. Today’s virtual and physical robots, however – imbued with artificial intelligence, artificial muscles, vision and pattern recognition, speech recognition and synthesis, sensors and actuators, and increasingly sophisticated interactivity – seem to be approaching those envisioned in Isaac Asimov’s seminal work I, Robot (but still from their human-level-and-beyond artificial intelligence, and certainly nowhere near the living robots envisioned in R.U.R.) That said, however, something’s still glaringly missing – namely, the ability to seamlessly interact with humans and other robots in a spontaneous, natural way that does not rely exclusively on specific preprogrammed behaviors. This is far more difficult than it seems, owing largely to the challenge of computationally emulating evolutionarily-determined perceptually-and emotionally-mediated contextual engagement. Enter Social Robotics: the effort to make robots more…well, sociable. Geminoid Research. Copyright © Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratory, ATR Explore further “Hollywood robots were previously played by human actors,” Bregler notes, commenting on the film AI: Artificial Intelligence. “Over the last 10 years, however, there’s been a huge revolution in Hollywood.” Today those same Hollywood robots would be played by virtual robots due to advances in animation, special effects, and live action – and, he adds, “Everything changes every year.”For Bregler, the uncanny valley is also evident in motion capture as applied to virtual actors, such as the animated characters in Final Fantasy which have achieved astounding realism as stationary images – but all familiarity is lost once there’s facial movement. Due to technological limitations, body and face motion capture cannot reproduce subtle small-scale movements that communicate essential real-world information. Without these present, viewers immediately enter the uncanny valley.Bregler points out another problem with virtual characters: There’s no weight or force in their virtual body or captured movements. “When you do animation, there are reverse kinematics – a bit like a puppet.” In other words, the force is externally applied rather than being an intrinsic component of the character’s physicality. This was perfectly fine with the aliens in Avatar, Bregler illustrates, but if the same performance was applied to people, the illusion would have dissolved – and the same holds true for more ephemeral issues, such as the way evolution has enabled us to tell, for example, if someone may be lying from facial, gestural and tonal cues we may not be explicitly aware of (familiarity) until they’re absent (uncanny valley). Surprisingly, even higher primates have an uncanny valley regarding others of their species.Moreover, he adds that “The uncanny valley is now a common problem everywhere – In the game industry, in the motion capture industry – and while there are movies that dance around the uncanny valley, others fall right into it.” Bregler sees The Incredibles, which was hand-animated, as being in the former category – but the precisely motion captured Polar Express in the latter.“We’re not there yet with primary human motion and behavior,” he explains. “We’re also very far away from being able to simulate the human brain – even the spinal cord. We need a shortcut.” “As we go about designing our future,” Knight says, “some of the things I think about are creating intelligent machines, building relatable robotic characters, and creating companions that can exist and help us in our everyday lives.” Knight sees the integration of robotics and theater and a key pathway to that future.”Robots and theater have a long history together,” Knight points out – a history beyond the legacy of R.U.R. “Artists tend to use the medium of their times – and right now, that medium is technology.” Moreover, she observes, making robots responsive to their audience, as well as applying physical theater techniques through gestural communications, allows emotion to infuse the entire robotic form. Knight illustrates this point with the example of look-step-reach-grab behavior: Even without a word being spoken, every such sequence and its associated timing profile embodies and communicates a robust amount of specific but distinct intentional, emotional and cognitive meaning.However, Knight – whose previous work includes robotics and instrumentation at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, interactive installations with Syyn Labs, field applications and sensor design at Aldebaran Robotics, as well as being an alumnus of MIT Media Lab’s Personal Robots Group – cautions that it’s not a matter of simply taking existing templates already successful in acting and embedding them in robots. “I think actual collaboration – the procedural knowledge of working with performance, performers and directors – is really important, because not everything can be codified in words.”When discussing the uncanny valley, Knight cites how culture influences not only how we react to a robot perceived as being almost human, but also the way we represent robots and other technology in the world, as well as how we select the types of robotic research we fund and pursue. “I think that if we create modern narratives, perhaps we can reshape some of the current emphasis of where we’re going with technology.”Chris Bregler, Associate Professor of Computer Science at NYU’s Courant Institute and director of the NYU Movement Lab, inhabits the world of animation and entertainment, focusing on Hollywood robots – virtual characters and actors without physical embodiment. Conducting interdisciplinary research in the virtual world of motion capture, animation, computer vision, graphics, statistical learning, gaming, biomedical applications, human-computer interaction, and artificial intelligence – work that has resulted in numerous publications, patents, and awards from the National Science Foundation, Sloan Foundation, Packard Foundation, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Google, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and other sources – he has a visually demonstrable take on the uncanny valley. The Uncanny Valley. Courtesy: Masahiro Mori, Karl F. MacDorman, Takashi Minato
Month: August 2019
More information: radionavlab.ae.utexas.edu/via Fox Armed Predator drone firing Hellfire missile. Image: Wikipedia. Citation: UT researchers show how easy it is to spoof unencrypted GPS signals used by drones (2012, June 27) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-06-ut-easy-spoof-unencrypted-gps.html © 2012 Phys.Org This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further RQ-170 drone’s ambush facts spilled by Iranian engineer Up till now, the main concern regarding drones, other than privacy or moral issues, has been the knowledge that practically anyone can obtain a jamming device that prevents a drone from hearing GPS signals being sent by a satellite, thereby causing it to fly blind. Most such drones are programmed to land themselves if such an event occurs. Many believe this is exactly what happened last year when Iran claimed to have successfully brought down a US military drone flying over its airspace. Unfortunately, it appears, there is a far greater threat and it comes from spoofers, rather than jammers.Spoofers are devices that fool other devices into believing that it’s the device they are supposed to be communicating with. In the case of drones, a spoofing device can send out a signal that is stronger than the signal the drone receives from a satellite. By matching the signal, the spoofer is able to fool the drone into thinking it’s still getting its data from the satellite and thus becomes a trusted source. Once that occurs, those running the spoofing device can send commands to the drone causing it to behave as they indicate, ignoring those that come from other sources, in essence, allowing the drone to be hijacked by anyone with such a device. It should be noted that this is only possible with drones that use unencrypted GPS signaling, e.g. most non-military drones.Humphreys told the officials at the demo that all of his equipment together cost only about a thousand dollars to put together, meaning the technology is easily accessible by anyone wishing to take over a drone for purposes other than for demonstration. In such cases, drones could be made to crash into buildings, sporting stadiums, other planes or any other target they choose. Particularly troubling is the fact that the FAA has outlined a plan for allowing commercial drones to fly in the United States by 2015, most of which would be flying using unencrypted GPS signals.Humphreys and his team are hoping the demonstrations convince government officials to make changes to requirements on GPS signaling devices on drones before allowing them to fly in US air space. (Phys.org) — Professor Todd Humphreys of the University of Texas is making a lot of people nervous. First he and his team demonstrated their ability to circumvent the signals a drone flying over the university stadium was using to plot its course, causing it to nearly crash into the ground, before suddenly saving it from certain destruction. And as if that wasn’t enough to make the point that drones flying using unencrypted GPS signals are vulnerable to spoofing, surely another demonstration he and his team gave for representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Homeland Security drove the point home. They were very easily able to fool a drone in a test at White Sands Missile Range, with an inexpensively made device, into following the commands given by his team on multiple occasions.
Journal information: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Halictid bees’ social behavior studied © 2017 Phys.org Citation: The high cost of communication among social bees (2017, May 26) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2017-05-high-social-bees.html More information: Solitary bees reduce investment in communication compared with their social relatives. PNAS 2017 ; published ahead of print May 22, 2017, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1620780114AbstractSocial animals must communicate to define group membership and coordinate social organization. For social insects, communication is predominantly mediated through chemical signals, and as social complexity increases, so does the requirement for a greater diversity of signals. This relationship is particularly true for advanced eusocial insects, including ants, bees, and wasps, whose chemical communication systems have been well-characterized. However, we know surprisingly little about how these communication systems evolve during the transition between solitary and group living. Here, we demonstrate that the sensory systems associated with signal perception are evolutionarily labile. In particular, we show that differences in signal production and perception are tightly associated with changes in social behavior in halictid bees. Our results suggest that social species require a greater investment in communication than their solitary counterparts and that species that have reverted from eusociality to solitary living have repeatedly reduced investment in these potentially costly sensory perception systems. An international collaborative of researchers recently conducted a study of halictid bees in order to determine how the metabolic cost of chemosensory organs changes during such transitions. They theorized that changes in social structure would be reflected in changes to the expensive antennae sensory systems of insects. The researchers imaged the antennae of adult females from 36 species that ranged across a spectrum from completely solitary to highly social, and analyzed sensilla density using digital statistical software. The tests confirmed their theory: As sociality is gained and lost in halictid bees, convergent changes occur in both sensilla structures and the chemical signals of the groups. Social insects invest more in these systems than solitary bees, and as group complexity increases, communications develop higher diversity. “Taken together,” the authors write, “these results suggest that there is a strong link between the evolution of social behavior and investment in communication.” The researchers note that sensilla density did not increase as sociality was gained; ancestrally solitary halictids had sensilla densities similar to eusocial species. The researchers compare this seeming paradox to the evolution of cave-dwelling animal species that lose the sense of vision, but whose visual organs and brain structures, while functionally redundant, never become completely vestigial.However, secondarily solitary halictids—those bees that switched rapidly from social to solitary—exhibited marked decreases in sensilla density as communications declined. “Importantly, the reduction we observed in this group is not a complete vestigilization. Instead, it represents a decreased investment in antennal sensilla, perhaps in the absence of complex communication associated with group living,” the authors write.The authors suggest that higher sensilla density on the antennae of social insects confers two advantages: The increased surface area increases the speed of discrimination, allowing bees to quickly identify non-nestmates and more quickly respond with aggression. And the higher density may also increase the variety of chemoreceptors on the antennae, accommodating more precise signaling between nestmates. They also note that the higher densities of sensilla may include mechanosensory receptors, though they were unable to distinguish between the two types. It is true, however, that physical communication occurs among eusocial bee species, including bumping and ramming behaviors used by queens to induce submission in workers.The researchers observe that investing in higher numbers of sensilla confers speed and accuracy in communication among social bees, and that while solitary females still recognize relevant stimuli, they no longer require metabolically costly sensilla for survival. “In conclusion,” the authors write, “the rapid changes in chemical signaling within a single, polymorphous species, coupled with the repeated reduction in features associated with signal perception within and between species, suggest that there are trade-offs associated with communication in social groups.”Press release from Princeton University.
Theatre in India is almost 1000 years old. Though the various forms of theatre thrived in India over years, its presence on a global platform is negligible. Indian theatre needs to gain a global recognition in this field.Aiming to contribute to the growth and development of theatre in the country and across, National School of Drama has been organising Bharat Rang Mahotsav, International Theatre Festival of India. Started in the 1999, the festival is the largest theatre festival in Asia. The first edition of this fest featured only five plays which have increased to 200 in the 17th edition of the festival that started off in the Capital on February 1 at Kamani Auditorium. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State of Culture and Tourism (Independent Charge) & Civil Aviation Member inaugurated the event in the presence of eminent theatre and film personality Om Puri, Ratan Thiyam, Chairman, NSD Society and Waman Kendre, Director NSD.War-themed play Ghazab Teri Adaa, directed by Waman Kendre, Director NSD, opened the festival. The play, set in an imaginary time and place, revolves around the never ending aspiration for an expansion of kingdom by the King. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with Netflix82 productions in 23 languages and performances by 125 groups which includes over 15 international performances will be the highlight of the theatre extravaganza. Themed with Breaking the Borders, the festival will see participation of countries like – USA, UK, Germany, China, France, Poland, Switzerland, Norway, Israel, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, among others. The festival will also travel to other parts of the country with plays being showcased in Agartala , Jabalpur , Aurangabad and Panaji. Kendre said, “The festival needs more promotion and projection. We aspire to make it bigger than the two largest theatre festivals – Edinburgh and Avignon.” Kendre also proposed a Theatre Olympics in India that would stage around 2000 national and international plays hosted by NSD.Om Puri, who was the special guest of the evening and also alumni of NSD unveiled the brochure of the festival. Recalling his days on the stage, the actor stated “I want to get back to the stage once again. Theatre keeps me high. I am grateful to NSD for making me what I am today.”The National-award-winning actor also stressed on making NSD the national face of drama of the country. Puri noted,”Only Marathi and Bengali theatre are sustaining in the country besides a few. Compared to foreign countries, our theatre lacks stage craft. We have acting and direction potential but need to work on stage skills.” Ratan Thiyam pointed out the lack of funds for production in the country. He said, “There are many people who have given themselves completely to theatre but are economically suffering. Even I had to find out an alternative each time I headed for some production of according which I wished due to lack of funds.”Mahesh Sharma emphasised on the promotion, propagation and expansion of Indian form of theatre in the country and abroad. He noted, “I’m honoured to be present here among the talented artistes and theatre lovers. Indian theatre needs to be recognised on a global level which NSD can do. I will try to provide every possible help to NSD to make it the face of Indian drama.”The festival this year pays tribute to the veterans like Shambhu Mitra, Begum Akhtar and Veenapani Chawla. This will include performances, exhibitions, and lectures on the three artistes.A Theatre Bazaar is also organised in the festival. It is a complete package of cultural extravaganza with several other activities.
Blank Space and Style hit maker Taylor Swift has laughed off rumours that she is getting her legs insured for $40 million.Her pet cat gave her a red scratch on one of her legs and she posted a photograph of it on Instagram, reports aceshowbiz.com.She captioned the image: “Great work Meredith.”“I was just trying to love you and now you owe me 40 million dollars,” she added.Taylor Swift will soon kick off her world tour to promote her latest album 1989.
Released on July 28, the seven-country survey of more than 7,000 people about smartphone habits by Motorola, now owned by Chinese electronics giant Lenovo, found that 60 per cent of those surveyed slept holding their handsets —with the highest percentages in India (74 per cent) and China (70 per cent).While one in six smartphone users said they used their phones while taking a shower, 54 per cent said they would reach for the smartphone before saving their cat in a fire, phys.org reported. Around 40 per cent tell secrets to their phones they would not reveal even to their best friend. But the relationship is not perfect. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’Only 39 per cent said they were ‘happy’ with their smartphone, and 79 per cent felt bothered that their devices interrupted them at inopportune moments. The survey was conducted online by global public opinion research consultancy KRC research with a total of 7,112 smartphone owners in the United States, Britain, Brazil, China, Spain, Mexico and India.In a similar survey last year, it was found that 57 per cent of Indians can not live without their smartphones. The findings showed that 98 per cent of Indians sleep with their smartphones and 83 per cent keep it on their body or within reach throughout the day.
Overseas investors have pulled out nearly Rs 2,000 crore from the Indian stock markets since the beginning of the month amid concerns over Chinese economy coupled with sharp erosion in the value of rupee.This was in contrast to a net inflow of Rs 5,319 crore by Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) in equities last month. The net outflow by FPIs in equities stood at Rs 1,943 crore during August 3- 21, while they invested a net sum of Rs 79 crore in the debt market during the period, which works out to a net outflow of Rs 1,864 crore, according to depository data. Investors are worried that a key reforms bill on goods and services tax (GST) might get delayed as the government failed to pass it during the monsoon session of Parliament. Also Read – I-T issues 17-point checklist to trace unaccounted DeMO cash Further, widening of trade deficit in the face of sluggish exports and absence of any positive trigger also added to the downtrend. “Continued depreciation of the rupee, another devaluation of the Chinese currency and subdued corporate earnings for the quarter ended June 2015 weighed on sentiments,” said Hem Securities Director Gaurav Jain.Besides, India’s exports narrowed for the eighth straight month by 10.3
Kolkata: Without naming BJP, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urged Durga Puja organisers not to fall into the trap of any rumour that is being spread on purpose by a political party’s IT cell. Banerjee also announced a financial support of Rs 10,000 to each Puja organiser in the state.She also urged the organisers to avoid “any outsider” wanting to fund their Puja with ulterior motives. “I would like to urge the organisers not to succumb to pressure if anyone wants to buy their Puja against a huge amount of money. It will lead to loss of their self-respect,” she said. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeBanerjee on Monday addressed the state-level coordination meeting ahead of Durga Puja in which senior ministers, officers and representatives of different communities were present. Representatives of Durga Puja organising committees were also present in the meeting, that was held at Netaji Indoor Stadium.Congratulating the Puja organisers for keeping up the tradition and culture of the state, Banerjee said: “With the support of the people from all communities the festival had passed peacefully, despite Bakri Eid and Durga Puja falling on the same dates for the past few years.” Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killedShe repeatedly urged the Puja organisers not to lend their ears to any rumours and to contact police in case they find any rumour-monger. “Such problems never existed in the state earlier. Now, there is a political party that has no work other than creating differences among people. Last year, canards were spread through social media as only a day less was given for immersion of the idols. Rumours were also spread over promotion of government officials, which was fake,” Banerjee said, alleging that it was all done by the IT cell of the political party (BJP). Inspiring Durga Puja organisers to make preparations for Bengal’s biggest festival with enthusiasm, Banerjee said: “There are 3,000 Durga Pujas in Kolkata, while the number is 25,000 in the remaining parts of the state. Each of the organisers will be getting Rs 10,000. Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and the state Fire and Emergency Services department will look into the matter along with Kolkata Police, in the 144 wards of the corporation.Tourism department, Consumer Affairs department and West Bengal Police will take up the task for the remaining parts of the state. The total expenditure for the project will be Rs 28 crore.”Durga Puja organisers will be getting 20 to 23 percent rebate this year on the bill for consumption of power. At the same time, licence fees to civic bodies and fire department have also been waived.This year, the immersion will continue from October 19 to 22 and the Red Road Carnival will be held on October 23. 75 Puja organisers will be participating this year, in comparison to 55 in 2017.
Kolkata: Nabapally Sarbojanin Sree Sree Shyama Puja committee in Barasat has come up with a unique concept of propagating world peace through its Kali Puja celebrations.This year, through its theme, they are trying to portray that at a time where religious intolerance, violence, discrimination and hate politics have taken the centre stage and the country is bleeding, a divine force must appear and restore and regenerate the country. The Nabapally Sarbojanin Sree Sree Shyama Puja committee will worship Maa Kali, seeking power from her divine spirit to fight injustice and oppression prevalent in our society. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeIn its 39th year, the FIFA World Cup in Russia would be replicated inside the Puja pandal, hoping to attract large crowds to Barasat, assume the organisers. Barasat, the district head quarter of North 24-Parganas, has an old tradition of hosting Kali Puja in a grand manner. The Puja committee will present a miniature of football stadium and some models of players inside the pandal. As and when a visitor will step into the Puja pandal, he/she will get a similar feel of the ambience at the football stadium in Russia. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killedAccording to a member of the Puja committee, World Cup has been selected as the theme as it is one of best platforms to promote world peace. A large number of people come from various parts of the world and congregate inside a stadium to watch a football match. There could not be a better endorsement of world peace other than celebrating the Puja through a grand event like soccer, an organiser said. The Puja pandal is being constructed at a ground situated close to Colony More area on National Highway 34. The construction work began four months ago and as many as 100 workers have worked hard to set up the pandal, which is 160 feet in height and 108 feet in width. Light fittings will be coming from Chandannagar. The idol of Maa Kali is coming from Krishnanagar. The pandal will be made of ply wood, fiber, silk thread and plaster of paris. Puja committee Secretary Champak Das said: “We are trying to send across a message of World peace and Kali Puja could be the biggest platform in this regard.”
Kolkata: Three persons have been arrested by Dum Dum police station for allegedly killing Ganesh Kundu, the worker of a decorator’s shop at Gorabazar in Dum Dum. The trio are identified as Bacchu Das, Subho Chakraborty and Santanu Mridha.Sources informed that the trio were hiding somewhere in the Sunderbans of South 24-Parganas. Police claimed the trio have admitted to have committed the crime. Though they have revealed the motive behind the murder, police are not believing their words. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeAccording to the sources, Das was accused of heckling the local councillor over a complaint filed against him by Ganesh. It was alleged that a few months ago, Das allegedly wanted to install a temporary food stall in front of the decorator’s shop to which Ganesh had opposed. Later, the matter went to the councillor’s office where the councillor stood in favour of Ganesh as putting up a temporary shop on a government property is illegal. As a result, Das got agitated and heckled the councillor. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killedGanesh’s wife Rekha also alleged that Das threatened her husband around two months ago for complaining against him to the councillor. He also warned Ganesh with dire consequences. Though locals claimed two persons had come and killed Ganesh, police believe that three persons were there. One was sitting on the bike, one got down from the bike and stood there, while the third person came and shot Ganesh from point blank range. Later, three of them fled riding the bike. To identify their claims, police will take them in remand and may reconstruct the incident in their presence. “Though they are saying what they have to say, we are not at a stage to confirm the trio’s claims. Our investigation will continue until we are sure about the claims,” said Ananda Roy, Deputy Commissioner of Police, (Belgharia) of Barrackpore Police.