The Project Vision
Realising the notion of a robot capable of "amicability," or as a social interface between people in the physical environment and the digital world, is not a trivial task. It evokes fundamental questions both in AI and social cognitive research.
Fundamental questionsFor example, it raises questions of the foundations of AI such as
- What is intelligence?
- Is the intelligence in the machine? Or does intelligence emerge from the interaction?
- What is the purpose of a robot? Do we need a socially-capable robot?
The Anthropos project does not directly aim to provide a definition of "intelligence" but rather seeks to understand it indirectly through human-robot interaction.
Early AI research to date has concentrated on solving localised problems and providing tools (e.g. neural networks, fuzzy logic, genetic algorithms, multiagent systems). This has led to a wealth of strategies for solving local issues with varying degrees of success. The next step in AI research has been to integrate these tools into whole systems, such as robotics, to realise a system that displays a breadth of "intelligent" behaviour. This integration proved to be nontrivial and highlighted issues with classical AI such as its strong representation approaches and a narrow take on intelligence.
An impressive display of human intelligence is in our ability to adapt in social scenarios. In fact, social intelligence has been theorised as the mechanism from which the capability for the complexity of human languages evolved. Thus, one of the purposes of a socially-capable robot is to investigate human social intelligence and behaviour. From a human-machine interaction perspective, a socially-capable robot also facilitates the maximal use of the digital world to improve or provide alternative approaches in education, information dissemination, and other aspects of daily life.
Designing such an interface then results in questions such as
- How human-like should a robot be in order to be socially capable?
- How machine-like can a robot remain and still be socially accepted?
In order to begin answering these questions, current trends in the Anthropos project are
- Anthropos and Joe robots - to investigate the engineering aspects of function and form for social robots
- Emotion robots - to experiment with the strength and degree of minimal expression and communication
- Agent Chameleons - to explore the seamless integration of real physical worlds and the digital information space through agent-based "personal assistants"