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How to Survive a Robot Apocalypse: Just Close the Door


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A robot takes a tumble during the finals of the 2015 Robotics Challenge in Pomona, CA.

Robots lack hand-eye coordination, balance, and common sense.

Credit: DARPA/Associated Press

In a recent U.S.-government-sponsored competition, robots were unable to overcome the challenge of an unlocked door impeding their way at an outdoor obstacle course, illustrating the technology's shortcomings in terms of hand-eye coordination, balance, and common sense.

OpenAI researcher Jonas Schneider says robots are cumbersome, partly because they do not fully understand where they are or what their actions mean.

"We talk a lot like [robots are] smart or intelligent, but they're not really," notes Kraken Robotics' David Shea.

For example, the visual sensors that enable robots to explore their surroundings do not immediately update their software.

One characteristic robots have in common with many people is they have no conception of how to behave in new and unpredictable situations, which prevents them from performing tasks requiring contact with humans. Experts say this and other technical drawbacks make the danger of accidental robot mishaps far more likely than a machine takeover.

From The Wall Street Journal
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