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[DPRG] [Fwd: RE: Dallas News inquiry]

Subject: [DPRG] [Fwd: RE: Dallas News inquiry]
From: Dale Wheat dale at dalewheat.com
Date: Wed Jul 6 20:46:29 CDT 2005

His response to my response, my response, then his initial inquiry, in that 
order.  Feel free to contribute to the discussion.


Thanks,

Dale Wheat
http://dalewheat.com
(877) DALE WHEAT
(972) 486-1317

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: Dallas News inquiry
Date: Tue, 5 Jul 2005 17:18:22 -0500
From: Landers, Jim <JLanders at dallasnews.com>
To: 'dale at dalewheat.com' <dale at dalewheat.com>

Dale,

Thanks for your good insight. I look forward to the responses from other
Dallas robotics fans.

Jim

-----Original Message-----
From: Dale Wheat [mailto:dale at dalewheat.com]
Sent: Tuesday, July 05, 2005 6:14 PM
To: Landers, Jim
Subject: Re: Dallas News inquiry


Jim,

Thanks for writing.  I can't say that I'm an expert on either (1) the
Japanese
social mindset or (2) Japanese state-of-the-art robotics, but I can give you
a 3
minute course in what you might need to know to ask the right people the
right
questions.

I will also pass this letter along to our member mailing list, which is
always
guaranteed to get interesting if not always useful responses.

The upshot, however, in my most humble opinion, is that the entire concept
of
the android/humanoid robot as household servant, companion, et c., is
fraught
with difficulties.  Just as we don't build really big machines with really
big
legs to transport people or material (we use trains, planes and other
machines
that bear no resemblence to us or other naturally occuring beasties), it
makes
more sense (to me) to build specially-designed equipment for specific
purposes.
   Does your home alarm system look like a Rottweiler?  No, it looks like a
thermostat with a keypad.  Why?  Rottweilers are complicated - thermostats
are
not.  The same holds true for the future keepers of Japan's (and the
world's)
aged.  The same machine that assists you in the restroom need not be the
same
machine that handles your postal mail or prepares your meals.  The list of
analogies goes on.

The Japanese perception that humanoid machines will be more easily accepted
by
society is terribly short sighted.  What would Ford-truck-driving
great-grandpa
think of the Escalade with voice-activated GPS mapping?  Although it should
be
possible to model or mimic humanoid motion (ala Asimo), it's still many
years
away from practical application.  Asimo can walk around for about 20 minutes

before needing a recharge.  In this 20 minutes he/it can walk around quite
impressively, identify faces and even climb stairs, but cannot carry any
significant payload or react to any non-programmed events in the
environment.
This level of acheivement has taken many years and much work.  I was
fortunate
enough to see Asimo at SMU and came away with a great respect for the work
being
done.  It's still a long way from being a practical, producible commodity,
as it
needs to be to fill the described need.

The topic becomes more complex when you look at how far apart the different
schools of thought are on solving this exact problem.  Compare Marvin
Minsky's
work in artificial intelligence with Rodney Brooks.  Compare the various
team
strategies used in the recent DARPA Grand Challenge to the Roomba.

Have fun in Japan!

Thanks,

Dale Wheat
http://dalewheat.com
(877) DALE WHEAT
(972) 486-1317


Landers, Jim wrote:
> Hello Dale Wheat,
> 
> This is Jim Landers, a Washington correspondent for The Dallas Morning
News.
> I'm going to Japan next week to look at ASIMO and QRIO and to talk with
the
> Japanese about whether robots like these will be providing home health
care
> for a rapidly aging population. I'm an international affairs reporter, not
a
> science writer, and what interests me as much as anything else in this
story
> is how the Japanese have maneuvered their society into a predicament where
> robots seem like a solution (low birth rate, negative views on
immigration,
> etc.) But I gather the Japanese focus on humanoid robots is widely
discussed
> in robotics circles around the world. ASIMO's visit to SMU is one local
> point of departure, and there are probably others. I'm hoping your or
> someone else in the Dallas society can offer views on how close the
Japanese
> are to a product that can play this home health care function, and whether
> it can be done at a reasonable cost. Would you be willing to discuss this
> over the phone?
> 
> Thanks
> 
> Jim Landers
> Washington Correspondent
> The Dallas Morning News
> (202) 661-8407
> 
> 
> 
> 




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