Recent Endorsements

You've left us really enthused about the whole digital dimension and we're looking forward to developing our plan with your support.
Simon Beardow - Deputy Director, British Council, Vietnam

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Life In (With) A Vacuum

Feeling lonely?  Talk to your vacuum cleaner.  I am serious.... Korean makers LG have recently released details of their Roboking, a robot vacuum cleaner.

Saying "Sit!" to a dog is bad enough but shouting "Suck!" in an authoritative tone to a vacuum cleaner could well be misinterpreted by your neighbours.

You need to clap your hands twice to get the wretched thing to stop its activities so practising a bit of hi-tech Morris dancing wouldn't go amiss.

"Moreys daunce" by the way is believed to have had its very early origins in the European Courts of the 16th Century, and possibly also has a reference to Moorish practices, although the evidence is patchy.  What we do know for sure is that there is no Asian tradition of men putting knotted handkerchiefs on their heads and dancing round in a circle.

But putting Artificial Intelligence to practical use is very much an Asian tradition. Samsung Electronic also has a voice activated vacuum cleaning robot called the New Smart Tango - note the dance reference in its title.

And while the Korean have been cleaning up with their robots, the Japanese have been training theirs as pets.

Who can forget the embryonic "Tamagotchi";  a handheld digital pet which graced our shelves in the 1990's. We have come a long way from key chain-sized virtual pets that "age".  Later models of the Tamagotchi even had a final 'seniors' mode.  Presumably this state occurred before they were eventually buried at the back of someone's drawer, completely forgotten as the next tech craze took over.

NEC  has a personal robot called "PaPeRo"('Partner-type Personal Robot') which has face recognition and detection.  It also has the ability to make a mental notes of your preferences as well as being able to walk, talk ( about 200 words) and master a whole range of human expressions. And yes, it too can dance!
The PaPeRo Robot
Nidhal Guessoum who is an associate dean at the American University of Sharjah believes that:

"We are indeed at a crucial moment in human history: Artificial intelligence threatens to produce machines that will surpass us in too many ways; genetic engineering threatens to “upgrade” humans, which may perhaps help us compete with robots. Technology will soon challenge our ethics, indeed our whole sense of humanness".

He may well be correct in this assumption but think of the money we will save in pet food.
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