Once again science fiction is becoming science faction, as the robot revolution is on the rise. Not only are they taking our jobs and driving our cars, now they can read our minds!
Using a mathematical algorithm that can predict what we are about to do, bio engineers in the US have developed a robot that can calculate our intentions based on prior activity even when an action is interrupted.
So for example, if you are reaching for a cup of coffee on your desk, but your hand collides with an unexpected object that prevents you from taking hold of the coffee, someone else would be able to make a fairly accurate guess of your intended motion, but could a robot?
In order to test this theory, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, experimented with this exact scenario.
In the study they took several people and began tracking and analyzing the movement of their hands as they reached for various objects on a virtual desk and then interrupted their trajectory with an opposing force.
After analyzing this movement they then created an algorithm that could (alike to a person) calculate where the hand intended to go and then predicted the physical actions and intentions based on what came before.
Researchers claim that there are many positive implications for this tech in the real world such as semi-autonomous vehicle controls that could predict impacts and avoid accidents.
“If we hit a patch of ice and the car starts swerving, we want the car to know where we meant to go,” said Justin Horowitz, first author of the study published in PLOS ONE.
“It needs to correct the car’s course not to where I am now pointed, but [to] where I meant to go. The computer has extra sensors and processes information so much faster than I can react.
If the car can tell where I mean to go, it can drive itself there. But it has to know which movements of the wheel represent my intention, and which are responses to an environment that’s already changed.”
“We call it a psychic robot,” said Horowitz. “If you know how someone is moving and what the disturbance is, you can tell the underlying intent — which means we could use this algorithm to design machines that could correct the course of a swerving car or help a stroke patient with spasticity.”
However even with all of these positives, I still can’t help but be reminded of Minority Report with Tom Cruise, where the pre-cogs read people’s minds and they are arrested based on the probable outcome and ‘underlying intent’ of their thoughts and their likelihood of committing a crime.
It seems that soon we won’t even be able to think in private!
by LJ Vanier, Team Spirit