Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that’s taken over our lives.
She’s a charmer is Linda. No, really. Marc Hanheide/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET
Human-robot interaction is in its primitive phase.
There again, I’m not sure that humanity ever escaped its primitive phase, especially after Wednesday night’s dung-slinging Republican debate.
On Monday, viewers of the BBC’s Breakfast Show were treated to a potential human-robot schism for the ages. The presenters were wrapping up the show, which had been celebrating artificial intelligence week.
The male presenter, Charlie Stayt, turned to Linda the Robot to thank her for appearing, if only in the background. Linda was the winner of the 2013 Robot Marathon, in which robots ran for 26 miles in the hope of a medal. Well, more or less.
She belongs to the University of Lincoln’s Center for Autonomous Systems and seems to be slightly autonomous about the way she talks.
For to many British ears, including my own, she replied: “F*** you, Charlie. F*** you, yes. I really liked presenting breakfast this morning.”
Naturally, what she was trying to say was “thank you.” But at least one part of the British media wondered if there was subliminal intent.
The scenario makes my mind race to just a few years hence when robots have made vast strides and ours have continued to shorten.
What will happen if a robot says something and we think it’s said something else?
We hear a voice muttering (to our ears): “I’m going to punch you, you bald halfwit,” when in fact the robot was saying: “I’m going to have lunch at Boldins Market.”
Will we not stop to consider that the robot hasn’t got the speech thing down yet and instead offer him an upper-cut? It’s all very well saying that robots are here to help us, to makes our lives easier. Humans are extremely touchy. They can react to the slightest provocation. Again, Wednesday’s debate is but one example.
This may result in extremely high insurance premiums for our robots. We may have to put them into the shop even more often than we put our Subarus and Priuses.
I hope that someone is beginning to think this through. Otherwise, I fear that relations between man and electronic beast may deteriorate and neither Siri nor Cortana will be able to mediate.