BY JO STEELE
A COMPUTER with imagination - is it the stuff of nightmarish sci-fi or
future of art? A computer scientist who specialises in
intelligence has devised a program which could put ordinary PCs in Picasso's
league. Dr Simon Colton believes computers have the ability to be creative
and could produce their own masterpieces.
He said: 'One of the tests of creativity is using imagination. I want to
get the computer to do this to a create a new image.' He has designed software
which enables computers to paint from a digital image without human assistance.
It can even change the original pictures adding shading and changing the
materials used, for example from oils to pastels or chalk, to see if the
picture looks better. Although the Tryptych software can currently be used
only to re-interpret existing niasterpieces, such as Johannes Vermeer's Girl
With A Pearl Earring, or to turn photos into 'paintings', as in the Richard
and Judy image below, Dr Colton says getting the program to create its own
pictures is maybe months' away.
The computer can already invent scenes using a chosen picture,
but the next step is whether it will be able to come up with its own image.
Dr Colton said: 'There are
of programs we call creative.' But artists need not worry about being
pushed aside. They won't be put out of business,' Dr Colton added. 'Lucien
Freud won't stop painting just because of this. There will always be a premium
for human blood, sweat and tears in art.' Dr Colton will demonstrate his
invention at Imperial College, London, tonight.
[The Metro Sep25,2006]
Robot that won't let you get lost in translation
BY JONATHAN GODDARD
IMAGINE landing at a foreign airport and not speaking
a word of the language. Do not worry - help is at hand from your friendly
personal robot. Speak to him in English and your frantic request for a hire
car or a luggage trolley will be translated into the local lingo. Papero
is the first robot able to translate between languages spoken in slang or
a colloquial style. The machine, known as the Partner-Type Personal Robot,
has a vocabulary of 50,000 Japanese and 25,000 English words. His technology
is being tested at Narita Airport in Tokyo in the more compact form of handheld
electronic personal digital assistants. Simply speak English into the PDA
and it will talk back in perfect Japanese. Chris Shimizu, of NEC which created
the technology, said it took years to develop devices which could understand
different speech patterns, accents and colloquialisms. 'The accuracy depends
on the size and quality of the dictionary but it is usually close to 100
per cent,' he added. The technology will be offered to other airports by
the end of the year.
A little humanoid help
JAPANESE CHILDREN ARE BEING PROTECTED BY ROBOTS, REPORTS DAZED AND CONFUSED'S
School bus yellow, more than 1m tall, with almond-shaped eyes, Wakamaru greets
the schoolgirl, who giggling, shakes his cupped, plastic hand. Her peers
stare, open mouthed around her. The robot identifies the schoolchildren swarming
around it by their IC-chip and memorises their faces. Those without the required
ID are photographed and news of their presence relayed instantly to relevant
authorities. Wakamaru, a humanoid machine by Mitsubishi, isn't the most
threatening security guard in the world. But, standing sentry at the entrance
to Setagaya Elementary School, it embodies Japanese faith in technology.
'Setagaya School's use of Wakamaru was a bold experiment,' says Timothy N
Hornyak, author of Loving The Machine: The Art And Science Of Japanese
Robots. 'I expect the use of robot sentinels will become widespread once
safety issues are addressed. There are very few cultural issues in Japan
regarding adopting robots as everyday partners, tools and friends. It's clear
to see on the faces of the children.'
Wakamaru isn't the only robot currently 'in school'. In San Diego, Qrio
- posterboy for Japanese robotics - twists and jumps, as he dances with toddlers;
next door, Sony's Fumihide Tanaka and Professor Javier Movellan watch
kindergarten children put their robot teacher Rubi to bed as her battery
runs low. 'I'm convinced educational robots have a role to play in early
childhood education,' says Movellan, firmly.
Rubi and Qrio represent the most in-depth experiment of robots in an educational
environment to date. The goal is to investigate social interaction between
humans and robots. If humanoid robots are to advance, it is crucial they
are able to comprehend human social behaviour - and school environments are
perfect for studying how humans learn, interact and form relationships at
a basic level.
Adapting to life
The results have so far led to the development of an operating system (OS)
that attempts to emulate humans' ability to deal with uncertainty. 'In social
interaction, however, the tasks need to be continuously re-evaluated,' explains
Movellan. 'The OS needs to drop tasks, if necessary, or to create its own.
This is not really part of the standard OS make-up. I really think we are
Intelligence] upside down,' he continues. 'Instead of focusing on abstract
AI should look at understanding adaptive behaviour and daily life.' Despite
this research, the potential application of child-robot studies remains largely
nebulous. Qrio may have become a dance star on the home video broadcasting
website YouTube.com but his real commercial
potential was lost even on Sony, who recently ceased development. 'The robot
can help teachers in the classroom,' defends Tanaka. 'For instance, Qrio
can promote physical activities such as dancing.' So, however, can PE teachers
and the arcade game Dance Dance Revolution.
Current technology does not allow robotics to fulfil the role of a teacher
- or provide security. Nevertheless, in Japan, new schemes are constantly
unveiled. Many of them read mostly as advertisements for their developer's
ingenuity but Rubi continues to excite as it gathers momentum,
branching off into genuinely fascinating
sociological studies. It encourages existing research to look further into
more practical areas, while touching on a sentiment that has permeated Japanese
technological fiction and popular culture since the Edo-period clockwork
Robots with soul
'I see the mistrust of robots as healthy scepticism about their value,' considers
Movellan. 'My experience of the US is that when people see the potential
of this technology, they proffer ideas on how to make it more useful. Japanese
culture is more comfortable with the idea that everything, including inanimate
objects, has a soul of some form. Western religions are not comfortable with
the idea of "giving life" to a machine. The problem with this explanation
is that it makes sense but, in reality, is probably wrong.'
Edited by BEL JACOBS
Robots in battle for Olympic glory
BY STEPHEN HULL
IMAGINE a group of metallic titans sumo wrestling, playing football
or plain tearing each other to pieces. Sound good? It's the Robolympics.
The event, which took place over the weekend, saw robots run, jump, smash
and burn their way through 33 disciplines. One of the most popular attractions
was the robotic combat, made famous by TV show Robot Wars. It included everything
from 340lb behemoths tearing chunks out of each other to teams of 1lb
featherweights swarming tactically. There was also robot football, sumo wrestling
and a sprint. But the most intriguing events involved more than brute strength.
In one, the machines had to teach themselves how to get out of mazes. In
a second, they raced each other down a twisting slalom course. There was
no human remote control, however. The robots had to use their own artificial
intelligence to process data and learn. The first annual Robolympics, a two-day
event in San Francisco, was organised by the Robotics Society of America.
Human engineers, mostly
pitted their creations against each other for cash prizes. Competitors from
11 countries took part, including America, Britain, Japan, Spain and Australia.
RSA president David Calkins said: I've met all types of builders, from welders
who construct huge combat robots to people who create sumo androids. So I
decided, "I'm going to put you all in the same building at the same time,
and you're going to like it".'
[Metro Monday, March 22, 2004]
POP SHOT: What an interesting story about the
trumpet-playing robot produced by Toyota (Metro Fri). Equally interesting
is the fact they want to go ahead with plans for an entire robot band. Don't
we have them already? Girls Aloud, Westlife, Atomic Kitten, Boyzone, etc.
A Sulaiman, Middlesex
Robo muso tackles classics
Point a robot the right way
By Tom Phillips
IT may not be good enough for the London Phil, but this robot does a neat
version of Pomp And Circumstance on the violin. The 150cm- tall (5ft) machine
performed the Elgar piece when it was shown to the world yesterday. It is
programmed to push strings with its mechanical fingers on one arm while using
a bow with the other. The robot is one of a series of devices created by
car maker Toyota. Others unveiled in Tokyo yesterday included its wheelchair-like
machine which can take hospital patients from one bed to another.[Metro 7
|What would you do if you met a robot who had lost its way? Well, most
people would lend a hand by pointing it in the right direction and helping
it get there, according to roboteer Kacie Kinzer. He has been leaving 'tweenbots'
- tiny, cute robots with smiling faces and no sense of direction - around
New York to see how they would cope on their own in the Big Apple. Each has
a flag attached to it, asking for help and giving its destination. As the
robot can only roll forwards in a straight line, it requires helpful New
Yorkers to steer their new friend towards its goal - while they are secretly
filmed. On the first tweenbot journey, the little guy made it safely across
Washington Square Park in 42 minutes, with 29 people helping it en route.
The video shows pedestrians first reacting with bemusement, then setting
the tweenbot right as though it was the most natural thing in the world.
According to Mr Kinzer, some people even spoke to the robot - with one man
warning 'You can't go that way, it's toward the road', before steering it
to safety. See the lost robots
You can speak in tongues instantly
BY SUZY AUSTIN
|ANYONE wanting to learn a foreign language can forget swotting
up on grammar and vocabulary - thanks to a new machine which can make you
speak fluently' at the flick of a switch. The automatic translator lets you
mouth a sentence in English as the words come out in whichever tongue you
prefer. It uses electrodes attached to the face and neck to interpret electrical
signals and convert them into speech. The secret of the device's limitless
dictionary is that it detects not just words hut also phonemes sounds that
form the building blocks of words. To translate from English to another language,
a user has only to 'train' the system on the 45 phonemes used in spoken English.
The software recognises which phonemes are most likely to appear next to
each other and in which order. When it encounters a string of phonemes it
is unfamiliar with, it uses this knowledge to come up with a range of sequences
that make sense. Most translation systems based on automatic speech recognition
need the user to speak the phrase out loud but the new device allows for
a more natural exchange. 'The effect is like watching a TV show dubbed into
a foreign language, said US researcher Dr Tanja Schultz, of Carnegie Mellon
University in Pennsylvania. The translator still has some way to go, however
faced with a sequence of words it has never heard before, it picks the right
phoneme sequence only 62 per cent of the time. 'The ultimate goal is to be
in a position where you can just have a conversation,' Dr Schultz told
New Scientist magazine.
[Metro Thursday, October 26, 2006]
See Also : BBC
,AI,Minutest works big on beauty