Outstanding science: studying the future with the help of our AI and robots

Living with robots seemed only possible in science fiction.

But today, scientific advances in artificial intelligence and robotics have made sure that robots are a part of our daily lives.

On May 13, AI Day, we met with a panel of experts to talk about the future of human-animal interaction with artificial intelligence and robots.

This is the first episode of our series Outstanding scienceinterviews with scientists about their findings, recorded in front of an audience, at CitySpace in WBUR, Boston.

Panel members

Daniela RusProfessor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Merritt Moorequantum physicist and professional dancer.

Justin Werfelprincipal investigator and head of the Emergency Design Laboratory, Harvard University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Most notable interviews

How do you define AI and robotics?

DANIELA RUS: “It is important to know that there are three interconnected areas that are confusing and confusing. So we have robotics, which starts computing. We have AI, which gives machines the ability to make decisions. And then we have machine learning, through robotics and IA and many other areas.

“And so far, machine learning is taking data, analyzing data, so that the machine can tell you what happened in the future, what can happen now, and what should you do in the future?

JUSTIN WERFEL: “My definition of a robot is, I think, a machine with autonomy. So no one is driving. It is reprogrammable. So it’s not just limited to doing one thing, being able to sense the world and acting in the world.

“… AI is the thing, it’s the robot’s brain, it’s the thing that tells it, it goes between the sensation and the movement that tells it what to do in response to what it perceives.”

Misconceptions about the future of AI and robotics

DANIELA RUS: “Tell me what I usually do when I tell people that I have one of two reactions. So some people start joking about Skynet and ask me when their work will go away. And others say, ‘Very, when will my car be driven?’ So actually, I’m in the second group.

“I’m very optimistic about technology. But the truth is, AI isn’t at the point of solving all our problems. AI isn’t at the point of destroying the world. But AI has very powerful capabilities. It really increases what people can do. Both cognitively and physically.”

On possible railings to advise on AI progress

JUSTIN WERFEL: “I don’t know what the right railings are, but I think the first step to finding them is to ask people the right questions. … People are worried about whether robots will kill us. We could talk about why it’s something to worry about, but I don’t think that’s something to worry about.

“You know, when I drive a car, people tend to put too much trust in something that isn’t ready yet. It’s about understanding where the area is and where to put the railing. It’s going to be the first step.”

MERRITT MOORE: “There is a fear that robots will replace humans. And right now we had my thoughts as painters and then it’s like looking back in time when the camera came out. And, I think all the painters used to say, ‘Oh my God, my job is done.’

“No one will ever want a painting again.” And what happened was that the camera had actually become a tool for another kind of human expression. So I think I’m working with a robot, but it doesn’t represent humans. It’s just another tool for my statement. ”.

How do security and privacy play a role in your research?

DANIELA RUS: “We really live in a world where anyone can learn everything about us. So the question of how we maintain privacy is very important. And here we can offer some technological advances that explicitly aim for privacy. We are developing two lines in particular. There is a differential privacy. So differential privacy refers to a set of algorithms that ensure that people can benefit from their data, but then knowing that individual data can be located.

“Another direction is homomorphic encryption … in homomorphic encryption we can do encrypted data calculations. That way you can save your data. We’re getting in the way, but we need a lot more. ‘

For high-income people, robot is an option. But for low-income people, it can replace work. How do we achieve balance?

DANIELA RUS: “Surprisingly, I would say that it is easier to send a robot to Mars after dinner than to clean that robot in your dining room table. So it turns out that there are a lot of tasks, especially around handling, that make our machines very difficult to do well. So I don’t think we’re close to getting rid of all those lower-income jobs.

“But with that being said, I think it’s also important to anticipate what’s going to happen in five years, and launch programs that will allow people to access different jobs, education programs, training and retraining programs.”

The potential of AI to help humans thrive creatively

MERRITT MOORE: “I think it would be beneficial for society if doctors were able to sleep a little longer and robots were able to do those things. No? And in terms of the artistic side, I think we could get more out of it. .

“I mean, a lot of dancers are trained at the age of 6 and they don’t go to high school [practice] eight hours a day for the rest of their lives. I think people would like to express the movement in a way that fuses the two together. But it is very difficult to be an expert in both. … Then with robotics, it’s just an interesting tool… I really think it’s a tool to improve human creativity ”.

This conversation has been edited to clarify. Quotes transcribed, written, and compiled by Steven Davy.

Coming soon: a new series At the point

Smarter Health: The Future of AI, Machine Learning, and Medicine

From May 27 At the point It will launch a four-part series that explores how artificial intelligence and machine learning can revolutionize the healthcare industry.

We will investigate technology that is already available or under development for clinical environments, critique the ethical dilemmas presented by technology, and understand the current rules for advising on AI advances.

This series will also introduce the audience to the people involved in AI in healthcare; scientists who develop the tools, clinicians and doctors use the tools and patients as part of the care that technology undergoes changing technology.


This event is sponsored in part by Vertex, The Science of Possibility.


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