A computer program that reads human expressions may bring an about-face in marketing….The software, or others like it, may put a new face on market surveys. For professor Deborah Small of The Wharton School, who recently examined the effects of facial expressions in charity ad campaigns, excitement surrounding these technologies is considerable. The real test, she says, is whether they can become sophisticated enough to predict our responses.
Read this item from WIRED
Donath notes that even seemingly simple human behaviors are accompanied by collections of body language and expressions that can reinforce or undercut the messages we intend to send. For instance, she suggests that we signal our intention to engage someone in conversation by a complex suite of gestures, mostly nonverbal: “You carry out this goal not only by walking across the room but also by making eye contact, smiling, raising your brows, adjusting your clothes—a complex set of communicative behaviors that indicate your intention to start a conversation, allow you to gauge his willingness to do so, and show your level of determination.”
Right now, even the most sophisticated avatars accomplish only a small subset of these behavioral collections. But that’s beginning to change, at least within the research community. Although putting all of the components of these behaviors under user control is viewed as too complex, Donath cites work in which entire suites of behavior could be controlled by a single command. For example, an avatar commanded to end a conversation can nod its head, wave, and break eye contact. Users of such systems found them natural and more engaging, and they found their conversation partners to be more expressive.
Although these sorts of advances may make for a more appealing virtual experience, Donath suggests that they have some disturbing implications for issues of trust and credibility when future avatars are used for communication. She notes that we interpret many behavioral collections in light of what they tell us about the person who is doing the talking. For example, we tend to view someone who doesn’t make eye contact as more likely to be lying, providing uncertain information, or simply uninterested in talking with us. A well-programmed avatar can be commanded to engage in behaviors that simulate honesty, regardless of whether the speaker is trustworthy.
Read this commentary of Judith Donath’s Virtually Trustworthy (subscription req’d) from Ars Technica
Israeli scientists imprint multiple, persistent memories on a culture of neurons, paving the way to cyborg-type machines….Researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel have demonstrated that neurons cultured outside the brain can be imprinted with multiple rudimentary memories that persist for days without interfering with or wiping out others…The bottom line, the authors wrote: “these findings hint chemical signaling mechanisms might play a crucial role in memory and learning in task-performing in vivo networks.”
Read this item from Scientific American
Scientists have expressed concern about the use of autonomous decision-making robots, particularly for military use….Autonomous robots are able to make decisions without human intervention. At a simple level, these can include robot vacuum cleaners that “decide” for themselves when to move from room to room or to head back to a base station to recharge.
Read this item from the BBC and all things “Robot” from Whats New Media.
Man-computer symbiosis is an expected development in cooperative interaction between men and electronic computers. It will involve very close coupling between the human and the electronic members of the partnership. The main aims are 1) to let computers facilitate formulative thinking as they now facilitate the solution of formulated problems, and 2) to enable men and computers to cooperate in making decisions and controlling complex situations without inflexible dependence on predetermined programs. In the anticipated symbiotic partnership, men will set the goals, formulate the hypotheses, determine the criteria, and perform the evaluations. Computing machines will do the routinizable work that must be done to prepare the way for insights and decisions in technical and scientific thinking. Preliminary analyses indicate that the symbiotic partnership will perform intellectual operations much more effectively than man alone can perform them. Prerequisites for the achievement of the effective, cooperative association include developments in computer time sharing, in memory components, in memory organization, in programming languages, and in input and output equipment.
Summary from J. C. R. Licklider’s Man-Computer Symbiosis. Commentary from C|Net.
Contribute to the J.C.R. Licklider and the Man-Computer Symbiosis articles at the Whats New Media Wiki.
Startup Emotiv Systems is hoping to crack the code on human-computer interaction with a unique technology, based on “unfolding” the cerebral cortex, to connect wetware to hardware and software, moving virtual objects with the mind…The brain signal data acquired via the headset (prototype at right) is streamed wirelessly to a receiver box connected to a computer. Proprietary software and silicon is used to measure and interpret the electrical signals, which represent signatures for various states or activities, said Randy Breen, chief product officer. Game developers can calibrate the sensitivity of settings and determine interactions based on the Emotiv data.
Read this item from ZDNet’s Between the Lines. Previously from WNM: Mind-Machine Interface within the decade and The Age of Man-Machine; Brain and Chip merge.
An ethical code to prevent humans abusing robots, and vice versa, is being drawn up by South Korea….The Ministry of Information and Communication has also predicted that every South Korean household will have a robot by between 2015 and 2020.
Read this article from the BBC (or a similar one from New Scientist). Previously from WNM: Defining Robot Rights and The “appropriateness” of machine relationships