Learn about emotions for social robots and for self-regulation, as well as about robots and romance

Emotions show up in artificial intelligence for robotics in two places. One is in human-robot interaction we expect social robots to understand, and at least play along, with our emotions. The other is embedding real emotion into robots to simplify control and learning. Since the 1980’s, AI researchers have explored inserting emotions for self- regulation into basic robotics software architecture. Emotions in biological systems are simple mechanisms to regulate control without having to think about it. If a behavior is not working or achieving its goals, an animal generates what we’d call frustration or a negative valence. As the frustration builds, the animal generally tries the same thing harder. It might adjust the gains and parameters on the behavior and other behaviors, like growling at nearby relatives who could be distracting it.  If the frustration continues, the animal may abort the unsuccessful behavior and try something else- an alternative or redundant behavior. If the alternative doesn’t work, then the animal either has to abandon the goal (e.g., times out) or reason about what to do. From a robotics perspective, emotions  are an extremely simple and robust approach to control and adaptation, with very little coding required. However, emotions  have to be embedded in the lowest levels of the architecture, so it’s not something that gets added on at the tail end of robot development, like in Enthiran. The Robots and Romance slideshow is a good start for learning about emotions in robots for control and learning.

February 10, 2020

Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching, and love of all kinds is in the air! Check out my podcast on robots and romance: deconstructing emotions which goes over the role of emotions in AI robotics, then discusses books and movies on robots as ideal lovers - robosexuals...

February 4, 2019

Heart of Iron is a YA girl-meets-robot romance novel. Like Cinder, it takes a familiar tale (in this case Anastasia the Russian princess) and cleverly up-ends expectations and tropes. Like The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, it is annoyingly mopey about true love. (Note to a...

January 27, 2019

An emancipated female steampunk-ish android seeks to use alchemy to free the gargoyles guarding a city. Sounds like a dreadful schoolgirl fantasy mashup, doesn’t it?  But it is a tale with surprising, poignant twists and an unexpected ending that is well worth reading....

May 7, 2018

Robots: service ‘bots, human-robot interaction, emotions, software architecture

Recommendation: Take a break from reading dark, ponderous sci-fi and enjoy a sci-fi/fantasy hybrid that has as many memorable characters and funny scenes as Avengers: Infinity Wars. And reme...

April 30, 2018

Robots: Humanoids

Recommendation: Save your time and money and get a copy of Marge Piercy’s 1991 award winning novel He, She and It which has deep relationships and a plausible science narrative. 

Red alert! Red alert! It’s not really science fiction, it’s a romance nove...

April 2, 2018

Robots: Humanoid

What it gets right about robotics: nothing; it does set up the strong AI hypothesis but gets the methods wrong. 

Recommended watching: Watch it- It’s Spielberg, after all. And then think about how you would have edited it.

Philosophers starting with Searl...

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For further reading:

  • Chapters 4, 7, 18: Introduction to AI Robotics, 2nd Edition, R. Murphy,  MIT Press 2019

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