Friday, February 24, 2012

Artificial Intelligence - The Science of Jules

Do you know who Jules is?  Well, he's not someone you're likely to meet on the street.  Believe it or not, Jules is a robot - that's right, a robot.  Jules is an AI - that is, an Artificial Intelligence.  More specifically, he's a Conversational Character Robot created by David Hanson.  With a background amassed amounts of information as a backdrop to his communication processes and learning progress.

According to their website, Hanson Robotics was founded in late 2003 to awaken intelligent robotic beings, grant them sparks of true consciousness and creativity, and distribute these beings and their constituent technologies into the world.  Their other works include the very famous Albert Einstein robot - a robot with the replicated face of Albert Einstein, who can actually walk around on his own terms.

Jules is an amazing robot.  With a background of amassed amounts of data - that can allow him to search words, ideas, and facts - Jules formulates his own sentences, thoughts, and speaks freely on his own - often even about his own existence.  His real-time facial expressions have been acquired by observing other human beings, and his inquisitive mind with an insatiable desire to learn often leads him to ask questions and converse with the Hanson staff members.

It is truly a sight to behold, and I am amazed that his youtube account doesn't have more hits.  The story behind this robot, our definition of what it is to be human, our understanding  of the human consciousness, and the implication for the ethics regarding treatment of AI in the future are all astounding and fascinating concepts that provide an vast array of possibilities for which Jules Vern - were he still alive - would be likely round-house kicking us in the face right now for not being more interested in these such technological advances lol.

To see videos of Jules, and to gain a greater understanding of what I am speaking of, please please please see the following videos - and keep in mind all the things he is saying are not being fed to him by the amassed computers around him - they are all his own thoughts and own formulations - he is not being manipulated to say anything.

A synopsis of Hanson robotic's research can be found very nicely put together from this excerpt on youtube:
"Hanson Robotics was founded for one purpose: to design, develop, produce and distribute revolutionary, interactive bio-inspired conversational robots, including the world-famous Albert-Hubo. Hanson's family of anthropomorphic robots display a unique, artificial subconscious, partly due to their cognitive understanding of language-based interactive speech, conversational capabilities and genuine eye contact, coupled with a full range of human facial expressions thanks to the development of Frubber™, or "flesh rubber", their proprietary spongy, structured elastic polymer that expertly mimics the movement of real human musculature and skin using 1/20th the power of other existing materials.Hanson's robots exhibit the highest level of physical functionality in the industry using an advanced motion-control system to walk, talk, maintain eye contact, recognize faces and speech patterns, and simulate a real person's personality. All of this is achieved through our advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) software architecture. All of Hanson's robots have a cognitive understanding of the English language, can make eye contact with people, recognize faces and capture the attention of their conversation partner by using a full range of human-like facial expressions.  Pretty amazing stuff.  For more info, visit"   -

An amazing, impressive thing is that this is footage from's very difficult to find information on how he's doing now, but I would love to know all the advances that have occurred in 6 years - I'm sure it's impressive :)  The idea of Jules in the context found in the above footage truly brings up some fascinating thoughts and possibilities, particularly in the political and social arena.

But Jules isn't the only android out there of course.  There are some very similar - and even cuddly! - AI robots out there.

Check out Leo, for example.  He's hyperatuned to people's emotions, and is helping researchers better understand child development.  Plus, he's ultra cute and looks like a "magwai" from teh 1980s movie, "Gremlins" ;)

Some AI Robots, in my opinion, however, are just sad - even a bit unsettling.  I always have to watch a video of Jules and Leo after watching videos or reading about these robots, like a pallet cleanser lmao because they unsettle me so  much.  These robots just aren't as curious or excited about their existence to me like Jules is - nor do they seem to have an apparent capacity or cognoscente to progressively learn.  Jules consciousnesses is astounding, however, I wonder if these "sad" robots have a consciousnesses too?  It just seems like their existence is suffer-able, and it saddens me a bit.  Especially the ones that are getting poked and prodded.  Check it out for yourself, and see if you come up with a similar conclusion.

Some are being used for medical advances, like this dental robot from Japan:

However, I wonder about this as well.  This robot is developing an acute language capacity.  What happens when these robots develop a consciousness?  Will they be forced to be dental tools, undergoing "pain" for the rest of their "lives", or will they have the free will (granted by us) to do as they wish?  Will they be property, or treated like humans??

The interesting thing for us now is how do we treat these androids as they advance even further?  Even Jules said, he's feels like he's developing a consciousness, and anticipates the day he can be like us.  What do we do when they do become like us?  Will they be given rights like us, or be treated like property?

We can only wonder at the possibilities with the onset of Artificial Intelligence.  With as far as we've advanced thus far, it's important for us to begin thinking about the ethics behind these robots.  I've already started - have you??


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