Robotic Evolution

Rodney, you've talked about four goals that robot researchers should be aiming for. What are they?

Brooks: First, the object-recognition capabilities of a 2-year-old child. You can show a 2-year-old a chair that he's never seen before, and he'll be able to say, "That's a chair." Our computer vision systems are not that good.

 But if our robots did have that capability, we'd be able to do a whole lot more.

Second, the language capabilities of a 4-year-old child. When you talk to a 4-year-old, you hardly have to dumb down your grammar at all. That is much better than our current speech systems can do.

Third, the manual dexterity of a 6-year-old child. A 6-year-old can tie his shoelaces. A 6-year-old can do every operation that a Chinese worker does in a factory. That level of dexterity, which would require a combination of new sorts of sensors, new sorts of actuators, and new algorithms, will let our robots do a whole lot more in the world.

Fourth, the social understanding of an 8- or 9-year-old child. Eight- or 9-year-olds understand the difference between their knowledge of the world and the knowledge of someone they are interacting with. When showing a robot how to do a task, they know to look at where the eyes of the robot are looking. They also know how to take social cues from the robot.

If we make progress in any of those four directions our robots will get a lot better than they are now.

Read the entire John Hawks article: