For many years, we’ve been dreaming of a world where we live alongside with robots. The robots will be helping us with household chores, workspace security, and miscellaneous tasks, so we can focus on the fun, creative, productive work.
If we look around us, that future we are envisioning is already happening. The Roombas are roaming around on the floor, picking up any dust on its route; the KnightScope robots are marching on the mall floors and parking lots, scaring away any malicious attempts; and the Coffee Making Robots are working day and night, serving us freshly brewed coffee.
Can we say that the future of robots that we are dreaming of is already here then? No, not quite. Because we were hoping for more.
We wanted R2D2 from Star Wars; we wanted Baymax from Big Hero 6; we wanted Marvin from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. We need more than robots that help us with utility. Instead, we want robots to have an understanding of us, have a sense of self, and to have a connection with humans. We want to welcome the robots to our living environment, but they first have to learn to fit in. The future of human-centered robots will be robots with comprehensive human understanding, unlimited lifelike expressions, and the ability to learn via reinforcement, just like real animals do.
We call these robots Atomos. An Atomo is a robot that not only has high intellectual and mechanical skills, but also high emotional intelligence.
In his book ‘I, Robot’, Isaac Asimov defined the powerful 3 Laws of Robots:
With this set of rules as guidelines, we will get the robots around us today - robot servants. These cold machines are useful and safe to be around, but they are not fun and we don’t need to respect them. And without respect, there is no empathy.
In an empathy-less interaction, the harm will ultimately be reflected on both parties. There is research showing that when kids spend a lot of time around Alexa, they become ruder.
We need a new set of rules for Atomos. Rules that make them more than just lifeless, heartlesss, cold machines.
This way, Atomos are not just robot servants, but also our buddies, companions, and friends. Having a personality not only means that the Atomos are more fun and loveable characters compared to robots, but also means a greater opportunity for better user interactions. Therefore, transforming robots into Atomos is about inventing a future that we want to live in.
The story of I, Atomo happens in a world in the near future, where Atomos are popping up around us and helping us with tasks. In this story, we will follow the adventure of TG700, the latest generation of Mall Assistant Atomos. Although TG700 is equipped with the latest version of the Deep learning Personality Engine, he is still in the process of learning how to be around humans.
While we are following the journey of TG700, we will also pick up numerous Robotics and AI concepts along the way. We hope that few months from now, everyone will be able to build their own Atomos!