Meet Dr. Ann Forest, a researcher who worked with MIT's AI labs, who shares her insights on the relationship between the search for spiritual meaning and the interest in artificial intelligence. Dr. Ann Forest talks about the problems faced by hum...
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Laura Wells: Human beings constantly work for progress in all areas of life. We expound all the boundaries of our understanding of the cosmos with telescopes and the boundaries of the microcosm with microscopes. Now, we are working to expound the venue of the tool that makes all other progress possible, the human intellect. Hello and welcome to Matter and Beyond, I'm your host Laura Wells. Today we will look at the world of computers, robots and artificial intelligence. We will meet Dr. Ann Forest, who is one of the researchers who works with MIT’s AI labs. She had the unique position of contributing her spiritual insight to the creation of human android projects, such as Kismet and Cogs. Today she will share her insights with us on the relationship between the search for spiritual meaning and the interest in artificial intelligence. Male Host: The beginnings of artificial intelligence reach back to the 18th century with Rene Decard in his effort to reduce the animals’ movement to mathematical formulas. Since then AI has experienced slow and incremental development with a surge in technology during the 1990’s and the early 21st century. Some scientists are now at a point in which they believe they are on the verge of creating human-like intelligence in a machine. They hoped to enable these machines to demonstrate the flexibility, creativity, and the ability to learn from interactions that are characteristics of human beings. Dr. Ann Forest: They have been successful in creating machines that are very good at one specific task, like Deep Blue beat Kasparov of chess, right? But what they're entirely lacking was what we are human are very good at is the capability to improvise and especially the capability to be in this world, to navigate, to interact, to balance. I mean simple bodily test. Male Host: According to Dr. Forest, in order to achieve true to life functioning as a human, a robot must be treated as a person. This is the underlying reason behind building humanoid robots. Two such robots are Cogs and Kismet of MIT AI labs. They are given qualities that encourage us to interact with them. Dr. Ann Forest: What I find fascinating about the technology is Cog and Kismet that I've been involved in, that they are fundamentally communal, right? They react to facial expressions. They have their own facial expressions, so they're really—you interact with these kinds of technologies via social, nonverbal cues. Male Host: Simply observing humans does not help robots to overcome current roadblocks in AI. Learning from people requires an active interaction between humans and robots. As a result, the AI community shifted its task from reason-driven projects to interaction-driven projects. So it's not your rationality or language that interacts with those technologies, but your gut. And what I found when we actually explored how Kismet interact with human beings, how human beings interact with Kismet. But they all fell in love with it. Male Host: Emotions and interest combine to complete an interaction, just as we limit our interaction with people who do not show interest at emotional connection to us. Robots will also limit their interaction with disinterested parties. Consequently, for a proper interaction to occur involving robot, it must imitate emotions. Dr. Ann Forest: I’ll give you a good example from science fiction, Star Wars, R2D2 versus 3CPO, right? 3CPO is beautiful humanoid robot that speaks with his wonderful upper class British accent. Then R2D2 doesn’t even speak, who always makes…sounds. Who is more adorable? Everyone would vote for R2D2, why? Because after all he is 3CPO’s speaking wonderfully British and you know like us. No, because R2D2 is emotional and we like emotions, because that’s something we can empathize with. Male Host: The process of developing human and robotics can actually help us as a society to remember things that are important to humanity, such as community and these other equalities of communication

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