Author Topic: What IS a robot?  (Read 19393 times)

Gary

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on: February 04, 2007, 09:52:15 PM
A 7 year old just ask me if there were any robots in the house.

Before I could answer, a 5 year old responded "No, we'd see them walking around."

For some reason I felt it necessary to open the can of worms and say "Not all robots move around."

7 year old, "Aren't there really big robots in factories that just stay in one place and build things?"

Me, "Yes, but not all robots look like that. Not all robots have arms or heads. A robot is an electrically powered, mechanical thing that you can give some instructions to and it will do those things for you."

7 year old "Is the TiVo a robot then?"

Me, "Well, I guess it ..."

7 year old, "How about the Microwave oven. Is it a robot?"
5 year old, "Am I a robot?"

Me, " Um, I'm going to go ask some people who might know that. I'll be right back."

So here I am.
Wikipedia describes a robot thus - "A robot is an electro-mechanical or bio-mechanical device or group of devices that can perform autonomous or preprogrammed tasks"

Is my microwave oven a robot? I preprogram it to cook food.

If the 5 year old finally learns her programming and flushes the toilet (hey, it COULD happen), is she a robot?

What IS a robot?



Russell Nash

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Reply #1 on: February 05, 2007, 08:30:32 AM
Wow I just saw the security droid in front of the bank blowing up.

I say the microwave and such are out because they don't have moving parts and you need to reset it for each cooking. The kids are out because they are mostly non-mechanical and are harder to program.

It is an interetsing line though. I used to program and operate CNC grinding machines. With an auto-loader the things could run autonomously for weeks without any more help than keeping the loader full and emptying the finished "tray". We never would have considered them robots, eventhough the UPS guy and others passing through the shop would always stop and marvel at their independent actions.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2007, 11:17:49 AM by Russell Nash »



Thaurismunths

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Reply #2 on: February 05, 2007, 02:30:13 PM
I think a basic component of being a "robot" is movement. A fully aware AI in a box able to turn on lights and balance your checkbook is not a robot, but a preprogrammed or remote controlled manipulating arm is.

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oddpod

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Reply #3 on: February 05, 2007, 06:06:07 PM
thows kind of conversashons are one of the best things about having kids.
thay never stop(well mine havent yet) making you chalenge idears you thort wher in the bag.




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Gary

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Reply #4 on: February 06, 2007, 01:16:46 AM
Thanks for the ideas!  :)

It is fun to ponder.
I guess I'll go with the "Ability to move" idea as the test. I've been trying to think of something that is pretty uniformly recognized as a robot, that doesn't move and I haven't thought of any examples.

As to whether WE are robots, I like the fact that we fit the "runs on electricity" criteria and that we do in a sense contain mechanical components (although most of those parts aren't "man-made"). I guess the big difference is our ability to change our own programing at will.

I still haven't decided about the microwave oven. It has a tray that actually rotates the food so it does move, it just moves internally.

hmmmmmm



Thaurismunths

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Reply #5 on: February 06, 2007, 03:24:09 AM
Perhaps, just to keep us all from getting branded as robots, you can use that ever popular "Free Will" criteria. That should hold up for another couple decades at least.

The microwave rotates, so do drills and garbage disposals. Perhaps that should be upgraded to "multi-axial movement", or able to move along two or more of axes (up/down, in/out, left/right)? I know that puts humans in, but it keeps appliances out.

If your kids keep asking too much tell them tell them that robots can be plugged in to a wall, and if they want to know if they're robots they should grab a fork from the kitchen. :o
(no offence intended)

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Bdoomed

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Reply #6 on: February 06, 2007, 04:00:57 AM
this is by far one of the coolest threads ever.

i wouldn't group humans into the picture, I would think a robot as being man-made, and i dont mean reproduced, i mean made by the hands and tools of people.  The microwave is a tough one.  you can tell it to cook for a minute and it will, it is pre-programmed to do so...

anyways i gotta go for now but i'll continue this later hehe.

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


Heradel

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Reply #7 on: February 06, 2007, 06:36:44 AM
A robot is pornography. I can't quite define it, but I know it when I see it.

But since this is, uh, geared toward a 7-year-olds' definition, a robot is... uh, a... huh... er... well... A robot is kind of like a very stupid human, that can only do what it's told and can't think for itself. A microwave is far too simple to be a robot, but a dog is far too complex to be a robot.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2007, 06:40:40 AM by Heradel »

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oddpod

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Reply #8 on: February 06, 2007, 09:12:00 AM
OK ,
i think we are making progress hear ,
so we 7 year olds cant be robots because they aren't made with tools (what bout clone 7 year olds?)

but we are still a bit fuzzy on the Technical difference betwean a microwave and a robot
how complex dose something have to be to be a robot?

can any one remember what the acronim robot stands for?

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Russell Nash

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Reply #9 on: February 06, 2007, 11:09:14 AM
Perhaps that should be upgraded to "multi-axial movement", or able to move along two or more of axes (up/down, in/out, left/right)? I know that puts humans in, but it keeps appliances out.

Back to my CNC machines. They were five axis machines x,y,z,a,b. a is rotating around x and b is rotating around y and this doesn't even count that the grinding spindle itself rotated around the z axis.

And these were never considered robots
« Last Edit: February 06, 2007, 11:17:36 AM by Russell Nash »



Russell Nash

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Reply #10 on: February 06, 2007, 11:19:12 AM
i wouldn't group humans into the picture, I would think a robot as being man-made, and i dont mean reproduced, i mean made by the hands and tools of people.

What about when robots are used to make robots??



Thaurismunths

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Reply #11 on: February 06, 2007, 11:43:41 AM
Ok, I got a good one. I picked it off an "Introduction to Robotics" site.
"Most true robots have sensors that allow them to detect details of their environment, and change their behavior accordingly."

http://www.mines.edu/fs_home/jsteele/400/web/Definitions/RobotDefinitions.html

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Gary

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Reply #12 on: February 06, 2007, 12:41:52 PM
Yikes ... the problem there is that my microwave oven has a temperature probe accessory.
I've never used it but it is a sensor that allows the microwave to detect the foods temperature and adjust it's operation to some sort of preset instructions.

On the CNC equipment ... I'm really having to lean toward calling that a robot! After all, they call those single arm contraptions, that put cars together on assembly lines, "robots" and all they do is a single programed function over and over again.

 :-\  I shouldn't be trying to think about this before I've had my coffee.



Thaurismunths

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Reply #13 on: February 06, 2007, 01:20:08 PM
How about "multiple sensors"?

And to put a thicker wedge between 'us' and 'them,' how about non-self repairing? We can heal ourselves, robots and machines can not.

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Russell Nash

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Reply #14 on: February 06, 2007, 02:14:46 PM
How about "multiple sensors"?

And to put a thicker wedge between 'us' and 'them,' how about non-self repairing? We can heal ourselves, robots and machines can not.

Not yet



Reap3r

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Reply #15 on: February 06, 2007, 04:19:36 PM
can any one remember what the acronim robot stands for?

Quote from: Wikipedia
The word comes from the Czech word robota, compulsory labour or work (also used in a sense of a serf), first used by Karel Čapek in his science fiction play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) in 1921, and according to Čapek, was coined by his brother, painter Josef Čapek (see also etymology of robot). The word was brought into popular Western use by famous science fiction writer Isaac Asimov
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robot

Thinking? I've never heard of that. Is it some kind of food? Please tell me it tastes better than those sick pop tarts filled with meat. You know, Hot Pockets. What, thinking isn't a food? Well then, what is it? Does it have to be built. I hate building things. JUST TELL ME NOW! O look, a bird.


Gary

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Reply #16 on: February 06, 2007, 04:51:16 PM
Where is Asimov when we need him!  ;D



Bdoomed

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Reply #17 on: February 06, 2007, 10:30:11 PM
i wouldn't group humans into the picture, I would think a robot as being man-made, and i dont mean reproduced, i mean made by the hands and tools of people.

What about when robots are used to make robots??

good point... i guess i clarified myself too much... you know what i mean.... jeez...

and when robots aquire self-regeneration, we're all doomed.
Ok, I got a good one. I picked it off an "Introduction to Robotics" site.
"Most true robots have sensors that allow them to detect details of their environment, and change their behavior accordingly."

http://www.mines.edu/fs_home/jsteele/400/web/Definitions/RobotDefinitions.html
not all robots have sensors tho.  I made a robot back in the day at robot camp or whatever it was called, and all it did was walk.  No environmental response.

How about, a robot is a thing that when people see it they think "robot"... although that does not explain it to a 7-year-old, they'll understand when they get older.

If we categorize robots as things that can be preprogrammed, then computers certainly are robots... they even respond to the environment (digital environment but environment all the same)

oop... i got to go again :P!

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


Jim

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Reply #18 on: February 06, 2007, 11:21:00 PM
What, do I have to be the one to point out that the Marketing Division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation defines a robot as "Your Plastic Pal Who's Fun to Be With"?

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Gary

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Reply #19 on: February 07, 2007, 12:00:14 AM
What, do I have to be the one to point out that the Marketing Division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation defines a robot as "Your Plastic Pal Who's Fun to Be With"?
LOL
If I hadn't misplaced my towel I might have remembered that!

BTW: "Your Plastic Pal Who's Fun to Be With" ... sounds like an "OhMibod". I don't even want to know if THAT is a robot!



Bdoomed

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Reply #20 on: February 07, 2007, 03:16:42 AM
What, do I have to be the one to point out that the Marketing Division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation defines a robot as "Your Plastic Pal Who's Fun to Be With"?
LMAO i love you. thats the greatest book, hands down.
i think the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation has the best definition.

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


oddpod

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Reply #21 on: February 07, 2007, 06:43:44 PM
lol, sounds good to me
i will have to go luck up the encyclopedia galactic definition now

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oddpod

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Reply #22 on: February 07, 2007, 06:47:00 PM
The Encyclopedia Galactica defines a robot as a mechanical apparatus designed to do the work of a man

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Gary

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Reply #23 on: February 08, 2007, 02:25:00 PM
OK then. I'm willing to accept an entry in a fictional book quoted in an inaccurately named "trilogy".

So, working from there we find in wikipedia that  "work" does not include the transference of "heat" energy since there is no macroscopically measurable force, only microscopic forces occurring in atomic collisions.

So as far as being a robot, the microwave oven is right out!

It still doesn't discount the 5 year old as being a robot. Though it has yet to be proven, it is technically feasible that this child could do the "work" of a human.  :-\
I guess it could come down to;
"What constitutes a mechanical apparatus?"
and "What constitutes 'programing'?"

BTW: I have now discovered that there is an International Standard (ISO 8373) that defines a robot as -
   
"An automatically controlled, reprogrammable, multipurpose, manipulator programmable in three or more axes, which may be either fixed in place or mobile for use in industrial automation applications."

I couldn't consider this THE definition of a robot though, as it specifically says "for use in industrial automation applications" and there are quite a few "robots" available that are NOT for industrial automation.

Heck, according to ISO 8373 non of the "bots' used in "Battlebots" would be considered Robots because they aren't "programed"



ClintMemo

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Reply #24 on: February 13, 2007, 11:31:53 PM
BTW: I have now discovered that there is an International Standard (ISO 8373) that defines a robot as -
   
"An automatically controlled, reprogrammable, multipurpose, manipulator programmable in three or more axes, which may be either fixed in place or mobile for use in industrial automation applications."

I think the multi-purpose aspect is important.  IIRC, those industrial robots can be reprogrammed to do a variety of different tasks. I saw a story a few years ago about someone turning one into a roller coaster simulator. It was just a big moving arm with a passenger compartment on the end.


Heck, according to ISO 8373 non of the "bots' used in "Battlebots" would be considered Robots because they aren't "programed"

I always thought of "Battlebots" as 21st century cock-fighting.

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