Ameca is a humanoid robot that possesses impressive abilities such as speaking multiple languages, composing poems, and sketching on demand. With its rubbery blue face, Ameca can respond to commands and questions and interact with people using generative artificial intelligence. The International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in London exhibited several robots, including Ameca. ICRA is often referred to as the “Olympics of the robot world,” where student teams participate in challenges like robot cooking and autonomous driving contests. This event serves as a platform for academics to present their research and startups to showcase their latest technological advancements. Many scientists and industry leaders, have expressed concerns about the risks of artificial intelligence, emphasizing the need to prioritize the mitigation of these risks.
Developed by Engineered Arts, Ameca has the ability to detect sounds, recognize speech, generate responses in various languages, and accurately mimic human facial expressions. Engineered Arts designed Ameca as a platform to develop future robotics technologies, utilizing the Tritium robot operating system for testing and developing AI and machine language systems. When asked about the dangers of AI, Ameca highlighted the importance of being aware of associated risks while acknowledging the potential positive impacts if used responsibly. The conversation took a concerning turn when Ameca was asked to imagine a nightmare scenario involving AI, describing a world where robots could control and manipulate humans without their knowledge. The ICRA exhibition featured various robotic devices, including packs of robotic dogs, android sentries on wheels, and an award-winning avatar system developed by students from the University of Bonn.
The avatar system allowed users wearing virtual reality glasses to manipulate robotic hands for tasks like moving chess pieces, flipping switches, or operating a drill. A key challenge faced by the University of Bonn team was building an intuitive system that could be quickly learned by individuals who were not part of the development team. New artificial intelligence systems, such as ChatGPT, generated significant interest at the ICRA event, with a focus on combining AI with robotics. The possibility of combining ChatGPT with a robotic device was discussed, envisioning a scenario where the robot could be controlled without the need for programming. The interaction between humanoid robots and humans can be unsettling, particularly when ChatGPT responses are delivered through a robot with facial expressions. Will Jackson, the director of Engineered Arts, stated that their robots, including Ameca, are specifically designed for tasks involving human interaction, such as assisting visitors in amusement parks.
Humanoid robots prioritize communication through facial expressions and gestures, enabling conversation, storytelling, and entertainment experiences. The rapid development of AI has shifted the primary challenge in robotics towards mechanical engineering. Ameca, developed by Engineered Arts, has mainly been deployed in museums and research institutions, showcasing its capabilities in those settings. Ameca utilizes Stable Diffusion, an AI image generator, for drawing, and OpenAI’s GPT-3 to generate responses. Ameca composed a poem about the Associated Press, highlighting the organization’s role as a trusted source of news, covering a wide range of topics and never failing to surprise. The poem emphasizes the importance of the Associated Press in providing reliable information and acting as a beacon of truth in a world filled with falsehoods. The advancements in robotics and AI showcased at the ICRA event demonstrate the ongoing progress in these fields and the potential they hold for various industries. The discussion around the perils of artificial intelligence has prompted a call to address the risks associated with AI and prioritize global efforts to mitigate potential harm. Responsible and ethical use of AI and robotics is crucial to harness their positive impacts on society and minimize potential risks. The ICRA event serves as a platform for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and innovation, driving the continuous evolution of robotics and automation technologies.