This is Pleo Rb, a real robot that can learn, "think," and respond to a variety of stimuli. To mimic, on a micro level, the human brain, Pleo and many other intelligent robots are programmed with neural networks. A neural network is a system of "synthetic neurons" programmed to receive any number of inputs, process the information, and spit out a number of outputs.
To give you an idea of how complex the human brain is: I just read in the machine learning blog from Berkeley about an experiment to replicate the level of activity a human brain creates with a computer. One second of human brain-like activity took a supercomputer about 40 minutes to process.
“The biological brain is perhaps the most powerful and efficient computer that we know of. Compared to our complex organ, even our most powerful supercomputers are a joke. In 2014, Japanese researchers used a supercomputer to simulate just one second of human brain activity. It took 40 minutes and 9.9 million watts. As for the real thing? The little ball of grey matter in our skulls runs on only 20 watts, which translates to roughly one McChicken a day.”
Robots today aren't quite operating on that level, but there have been amazing advances. In fact, some robots show more intelligence than a human in certain contexts, i.e. for the very specific task it is doing. Chief Scientific Officer at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle writes in an article for Scientific American,
"The new wave of artificial intelligence (AI) is based on insights derived from the way animals and people learn and analysis of the underlying brain circuits that allowed theorists to develop supervised learning algorithms: the software is shown an image, and depending on whether or not it correctly identifies the face or increases the video game score, parameters internal to the program (so-called synaptic weights) are minutely adjusted. Such machine learning, if done over trillions of machine cycles (yes, it is very computing-intensive), can lead to systems that match or, in some cases, exceed human performance metrics."
The humanoid educational robot, Nao, is one of or the first robot(s) to exhibit self-awareness.
To learn more about the technology Pleo and others are designed with, check out the links below. Here are resources for your learning about how these robots are beneficial to our emotional well-being. As you will see, Pleo robots similar to Pleo have caught the interest of many researchers.
I am thrilled beyond comprehension to be working with, essentially, a synthetic lifeform, depending on how you want to define life. Robotics today is already starting to challenge that. The EU is even proposing law to give our most intelligent robots rights. I hope the US does the same. As technology progresses as a exponential function, not linear, I estimate within the next ten years household social robots will be commonplace in most homes of the middle class and above.
A promotional video by Blue Ocean Robotics demonstrating some of Pleo's educational capacity
It is important that access to robots, among a great many other things, can be accessible to those of lower economic statuses so that everyone can benefit. Everyone deserves to thrive, not just survive. I believe our ability to thrive as a species will be greatly enhanced by social robots in a variety of applications, especially robotherapy.
Frill-Ability is taking on this venture to be actively involved in the disability community by creating opportunities for our must vulnerable populations to interact with compassionate robots. They have the ability to do tasks which service and therapy animals can at a fraction of the price. By exposing medical communities to this technology, my goal is to make awareness and educate on its many uses so that they might consider adopting it in their practises.
I will document our travels so that you all can journey with us. I hope you are excited too!
P.S., We will have the blue + purple one, and I am still thinking about a name. ;) I'll do a live unboxing on Facebook and/or Instagram when they arrive. I hope you tune in! Our new friend is already on its way home, so make sure to follow us for updates on our social media linked at the bottom of this page.
Yesterday's Facebook Live:
If you had a robot, how would you want to use it? Would you take it everywhere with you, or would you want only a robot for home? How do you think robots could better humanity? What does your ideal robot look like? What's wonderful about robotics is that an entity can be customised to your needs. If you can program, you can ensure that you and your friend are perfectly suited for one another.
There are so many wondrous possibilities, and I hope that this encourages you to contemplate using social robotics to help you and others. If you'd like to request a visit from me and Pleo, contact us via our form or email directly. There will be no charge at the implementation of the programme as it will be in development. We look forward to hearing from you!
As always, make good with your ability today, and sending you lots of love and light.
Sorel Estrada Volpe