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July 28, 2009 / Joe Osborne

Coffee Talk: An Einstein Robot Learns How to Smile, What Next?

Again, Geekadelphians, I apologize for yet another missing ‘Coffee Talk’ last week, but I’m finally back on American soil and everything is back on schedule. So, please do continue checking every Monday morning for the column and throughout each week for the rest of the beloved Geekadelphia team. On to this morning’s topic!

Researchers at University College of California, San Diego created an Einstein robot that could perform programmed facial expressions a little while ago, but recently have taught it something that will blow your mind. Alright, that’s a bit much, but it is pretty scary awesome. The Einstein bot can now learn facial expressions through a technique the UC San Diego researchers have coined “body babble”. More on how it works and a few questions for you after the break.


The “body babble” technique is basically hooking up the Einstein bot to a computer with facial recognition software. As the robot goes through its several programmed attempts at facial expressions the software recognizes more accurate expressions and rewards the robot’s AI with positive signals.

This positive feedback causes the bot to repeat these successful expressions while perfecting them in the process. While they’re not exactly perfect (borderline nightmarish), its expressions are definitely recognizable. What this could imply is that robot AI learns basic motor skills and behavior in a similar way to animals and as one psychologist claims, humans: reinforcement.

So, readers, give us your two cents on this. Is this really the next step to self sufficient robot AI? What do you think is the next logical move and how long before Will Smith has to save the human race for real? Scroll down just a wee bit more and let us know in the comment box!

(Via Engadget and Wired)


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