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Robots Can Now Understand Trust And Regret: Is Your Roomba Looking At You Funny?

Humans and robots have long worked together in factories. But how do they really feel about each other?

The robots, you might think, feel nothing. That’s why they’re so useful. But a researcher at Clemson University is hoping to increase the flow of feelings, giving humans more freedom to trust robots and allowing robots to understand–sort of–the concept of regret.


In Dr. Sophie Wang’s manufacturing system, a robot does repetitive tasks, displaying the final product that needs to be built on a screen. The human is responsible for the complicated stuff–but she can also tell the robot how much she trusts it, allowing it to figure out how to better divvy up the tasks. The robot can then take over more of the work when the human tires. Check it out in action:


Wang is also teaching robots to understand regret using mathematical formulas. In the real world, that might mean that a robot needs to calculate how much regret it would feel picking up the wrongly shaped object (presumably because the shape wasn’t clear using the robot’s onboard camera)–and if the risk is worth it, it’ll pick it up. Seems similar to how human brains work, when you think about it.

Clearly we’re just a few innovations away from robots becoming very disappointed in us and saying they’ve had enough.

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