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What will happen when robots have feelings?

Imagine a world where we live alongside robots with personality, emotions and thinking abilities. It happens in the "Star Wars" movies and it could be the reality on our little planet, in the not so distant future

BB-8 and human friends - image from the movie "The Force Awakens". Photography: David James
BB-8 and human friends - image from the movie "The Force Awakens". Photography: David James

Almost 40 years ago, the "Star Wars" film series first appeared on the cinema screens, inviting us all to join the journey to that "galaxy far, far away". It is one of the most successful and profitable film series in history, with a huge cultural impact. For example, in 2001 in the British population census, 390,000 people stated that their religion was "Jedi" - the fourth largest religion mentioned in the survey, and the number of its "believers" is greater than believers of established religions such as Buddhism and Judaism. Each of the six films in the series (the seventh is being released these very days) describes a war between "good guys" and "bad guys" in which humans, different species of aliens and also... robots participate.

The Star Wars robots, especially C-3PO and R2-D2 have become cultural heroes. They communicate, they have a personality, they make decisions and even feel and express their emotions. In the new movie, "The Force Awakens", a new robot joins the team. BB-8 is a cute and round robot, and from the first trailers of the film the enthusiasm around her was great. She almost steals the spotlight from the human stars. The Disney company, which bought the rights to the "Star Wars" films and produced the new film, does not of course reveal how 8-BB was built, but we know that it is not a "robot doll" operated by a human actor, nor is it computer animation. For the purpose of the film, a real robot was built, a fact that of course contributed to the enthusiasm for the character.

Robotics and artificial intelligence are two very hot terms. There is no point in asking "will robots change our lives" because it has already happened. They are already a big part of our lives today - they work in factories, clean our house and even talk to us from the mobile phone (try asking "are you a robot?" SIRI and you will get a surprising answer). Robots are here, and they're probably here to stay. The question is - what will happen in the future and how will it affect us, humans?

The robot BB-8 in action. Image from the movie "The Force Awakens". Photography: David James

Be careful not to offend your robot

In the curiosity lab of Dr. Goren Gordon at Tel Aviv University, are developing the new generation of robots: curious robots that learn on their own how to behave - behavior that is based on understanding and mathematical modeling of the human brain. We asked Dr. Gordon, when will we have robots with personality, who know how to understand complex language as well as body language, who communicate, think and even feel?

"To understand what needs to happen for robots to be like C-3PO, R2-D2  And also the new addition BB-8 will be possible in our world, and not only in a galaxy far, far away, we need to separate two components: the physical and the cognitive. physicallyBB-8 This is a great example that the future is already here: the robot is real, moves and really does everything it shows in the movie. in competition  Darpa Robotics Challenge held this year, we saw robots doing lots of human actions, like driving a car, opening doors or using tools. Although there were robots that managed to perform all the tasks, the competition also showed how far we are from human robots with full human physical capabilities."

The cognitive component is the interesting point. Will robots be able to communicate, understand and even feel?  "The field of communication is the most advanced," explains Dr. Gordon. "There are huge developments in the field, such as speech recognition and natural language analysis, which is already reaching very high levels. There are examples of contemporary robots that use this, such as a wonderful development called FOR A, which is out of nowhere a "personal assistant" that knows how to understand and respond in everyday language, identify its operators and the relationship between them and learn while using it how to respond to their needs. But we must remember that in human communication there are many non-verbal components, such as the change of tone and body posture. There are also great developments there, but the road to robots that know how to understand and use real human behavior is still long."

How would we feel if robots had feelings?

And what about feelings? The reason millions of people connect with the Star Wars robots is that they are just as happy, excited or offended as the human characters. According to Dr. Gordon, "There is already the development of robots that show emotions through different faces, and even learn which faces receive reactions from people who interact with them. For example, we built robot whose goal was to create as long an interaction as possible with people, with the help of facial expressions that imitated human expressions. The robot discovered on its own, without us programming it that way, that when it cries or makes a sad face, people stay next to it the longest. In fact, this is also how a baby learns - when he cries, adults pick him up and take care of him, and he is rewarded for this form of communication. But will robots that learn to express emotions really feel anything? Here the opinions are divided as to whether it matters, that is, if we think they feel and even develop empathy towards them, does it matter if they really feel?"

The Curiosity Lab at Tel Aviv University
The Curiosity Lab at Tel Aviv University

After we were convinced that robots driving the car and ordering delivery for us from our favorite restaurant are only a matter of time, it was time for the next question. There are already people who do all these actions, and they also do them quite well. Why do the good researchers and scientists invest so much effort to produce machines that will be like us? Is it just a desire to live the fantasy we grew up on in science fiction movies, like Star Wars?

Dr. Carmel Weissman, digital culture researcher from the multidisciplinary program in the humanities, believes that the high expectations that our society places on future robots to be good workers, caregivers and companions, even more so than the human origin, probably stem from our complex feelings towards the other human beings that surround us. "Machines are predictable, controllable, and can be neutralized if they challenge us. That's something hard to say about people. Technology fosters in us the obsession with control and gives us many control options. Relationships with robots can offer us to experience the feelings that accompany a relationship with someone else, but without the responsibility and vulnerability that a relationship with another person demands from us."

For Dr. Weissman, the interactions of people with robots, even in the relatively undeveloped versions that exist today, are an opportunity to understand us a little more and how we operate. "What is interesting is that precisely jobs that we treat as simple and automatic, such as folding laundry or lifting a glass, turned out to be something that is very difficult to teach a robot to do. These are actions that require the simultaneous activation of many senses, and we didn't know how complex they were until we tried to teach robots to do them. Surprisingly, precisely in areas where we thought that the basis of their success was human interaction, such as care and mental support, robots have surprising successes - simply by the fact that the robot performs the gestures of a listening person."

"I look at the field of robotics as a reflection of the state of human society. The developments in this field indicate our needs, weaknesses and strengths. We are very far from creating an independent robotic consciousness simply because no one has any idea what consciousness is. In the meantime, the robots will entertain us on the Hollywood screen."

I am a robot

Prof. Mati Mintz from the School of Psychological Sciences and the Sagol School of Neuroscience, encourages us to challenge our imaginations even more. Instead of humans living alongside robots, he presents a future reality where we will live inside robots, when the boundaries between us and them will be blurred. "In the project I took part in together with a group of researchers from ETH-Zurich, we created an interactive structure that people enter. The structure is the robot, which communicates, observes and responds to the people who inhabit it. We presented the project, a neighborhood ADA (named after Ada Lovelace, a mathematician and writer from the 19th century known as the first programmer) at the fair EXPO The Swiss in 2002. (Watch the video).

ADA She was able to communicate, observe and create different interactions with the people who entered her. She also knew how to treat visitors differently who expressed a greater willingness to communicate with her and behaved positively towards her. They were invited to play various games and were also given a personal greeting when they left the building. What was interesting to discover was that visitors very naturally interacted with ADA in a humane and simple way. It was not too strange for them to "talk" to the room they are in. The reason is probably that this is simply the only method of communication that we know."

"Beyond that, I predict that in the future there will not be two distinct populations - human and robotic, living side by side, but one population in which each individual will have a different composition of human and synthetic organs. Already today, many people walk among us with pacemakers, pacemakers implanted in the brain (for Parkinson's patients) and sensory implants that help the blind, for example. In the more distant future, implants in our brains that will increase the volume of our memory or even our creativity are not inconceivable."

The future that our researchers described here is still far away. We have many technological and moral questions to resolve before it becomes a reality. What is certain is that dealing with robots and their interaction with us makes us learn new things about ourselves.

An achievement for a project in the field of brain research led by Prof. Mati Mintz from Tel Aviv University

The project aims to examine the possibility of restoring a specific function of the brain by replacing a region of the brain with a synthetic chip

An article describing a pioneering research project in the field of brain research, headed by Prof. Mati Mintz from the School of Psychological Sciences and the Sagol School of Neuroscience, recently won second place in the competition for the best projects in the field of brain-machine interface (BCI) held at the last conference of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) in Chicago.

The project aims to examine the possibility of restoring a specific function of the brain by replacing an area of ​​the brain with a synthetic chip, and was summarized in an article published in the journal Scientific Reports. The article was written by Prof. Mintz, his students - Dr. Roni Hugari, Dr. Aryeh Taub and Dr. Ari Magal, and the Italian researchers Prof. Paolo Del Giudissa and Dr. Simeon Bamford. The project itself lasted over 12 years and was partnered by, among others, professors Yossi Shaham and Hagit Messer Yaron and Dr. Mira Marcus-Klish.

"The goal of the project was to test the feasibility of replacing a small area of ​​the brain with a synthetic chip," explains Prof. Mintz. "If there is a blockage in a blood vessel in the body, the problem can be overcome with a bypass, but in the brain there is a flow, not of blood, but of information. We wanted to check whether it is possible to build an electronic bypass that will transmit the information if one of the areas in the brain is damaged."

"What we did was to copy a model of a nerve cell into an electronic chip," continues Prof. Mintz. "We connected the chip to the inputs and outputs of the damaged system and checked whether it is possible to restore the function that the area of ​​the brain is responsible for. Specifically, we examined the "cerebellum" - an area related to motor learning. It is about learning small movements of protection such as blinking the eye before something enters it or sending the hands forward just before falling. The challenge was both to absorb the information upon entering the affected area and to flow it out upon exiting the area, when on the way there is also a need to perform a calculation that takes the incoming information and translates it into outgoing information."

"Following decades of research, researchers cracked a significant part of the anatomy and physiology of the region so that we could actually copy it," adds Prof. Mintz. "The research ended about a year ago with great success. We built a bypass and demonstrated that it works" at this stage, he emphasizes, the application is not yet clinical and the main importance of the project is that it made it possible to find out what things now need to be developed - which electrodes can be used, what protection must be provided to the electrodes in order to ensure long-term use, and so on.

And when that happens, what will be the clinical application? "I estimate that the first application will be the restoration or replacement of small brain areas that have a very essential function, for example swallowing," says Prof. Mintz, "when in the more distant future they will begin to replace more extensive brain areas."

And what is your feeling with the successful completion of the project and the publication of the article? "There is no feeling of sitting on the chair and marveling," notes Prof. Mintz. "Research is a daily job that yields a lot of pleasure and a lot of understanding, and now I'm already looking ahead to the next project."

44 תגובות

  1. The reason I think Russia beat Germany is that, bottom line, it is stronger than Germany.

    After all, both Stalin and Hitler see the war as a chess game in which human life is of no importance. In chess it doesn't matter how many pieces were lost, but who won. And this is what the Red Army did to the Wehrmacht: Matt. No smarts. Not 1918, not stabbing in the back, Stalin's troops occupy Berlin and Hitler commits suicide in a bunker.

    Some argue that the Russian winter stopped the Germans. He undoubtedly helped the Russians, but was not the main factor. We see this beautifully in July 43 at the Battle of Kursk, when the two armies clash head-on after 6 months of preparation.

    There is no winter, there is no surprise, the balance of forces is not significantly in favor of the Russians numerically, and the Germans bring into battle the Tiger and Panther tanks that the Russians have no ability to deal with.

    The Russians win, and don't stop until they reach the Reichstag.

    Our point: for Hitler, the war in Russia is a war against the Jews who rule Russia. And for him he lost to the Jews.

    Which is not true, but I believe that if he had joined the Jews instead of going against them, he would have won the World War, a.k.a. the Manhattan Project.

  2. Israel Shapira
    One of Hitler's biggest mistakes was that he even entered Russia. He did not learn or did not want to learn from Napoleon's invasion that Russia is not invaded. Russia is a huge country and in emergency situations it has nowhere to retreat and then they work with the scorched earth method. The second reason is General Winter. Invading such a country is digging one's own grave. In Bash for (Res) Putin maybe call him Waldia or in Polish Waldek.
    Noche barge

  3. Indeed, Russia and communism were an inexhaustible source of jokes and wit.

    But woe betide him and woe betide him who thought it was possible to make fun of the Russians, as the frozen Charles XII, Napoleon and Hitler learned the hard way.

    And so I am happy that we are on relatively good terms with (Res) Putin, not least thanks to the one and a half million Russian-speaking immigrants from the last wave of immigration. The situation could have been completely different if Russian planes had been so close to our borders (and even in the Golan itself) over 20 years ago.

    Ultra barge.

  4. Another queue joke in Russia. An appointment for a medical examination of foreskin. An old woman walks by and asks why the queue. The person being asked doesn't like it, so she says that sugar is being distributed. The old woman joins the queue. One of the girls asks the old woman: "Grandma, why are you standing in this line - you don't even have teeth." So what, the old woman replies - I can still suck.

  5. Israel Shapira
    A resident of Moscow sees his neighbor running. He asks the neighbor why are you running. The answer: I heard that in Leningrad there is a queue for bread.
    A true story - a saying of the communist regime was that the USSR is paradise. About this one of the US foreign ministers said (I don't remember his name) it is a bit excessive to reach heaven with 20 million dead.

  6. Aryeh Seter
    A joke from a later era
    A resident of Moscow receives as a gift a parrot that keeps saying: Brezhnev must die. He was afraid that one day they would knock on the door and it did happen. Very quickly he put the parrot in the fridge. The KGB men entered the house and also reached the refrigerator and indeed found the parrot and this said Brezhnev should live. After the KGB left the house. The same man took out the parrot and said to him sarcastically: Was one hour in Siberia enough for you?

  7. Another joke of Radio Yerevan. A listener asks: Is it true that Comrade Sasha committed suicide by jumping from the seventh floor window of the party house and what were his last words. Answer: It is true that Comrade Sasha committed suicide by jumping from the seventh floor window of the party house; His last words were "Friends, stop pushing me".

  8. Israel
    Do you know the difference between a crocodile and a politburo? A crocodile has 4 legs and 22 teeth. Politburo has 22 legs and 4 teeth.

  9. Please Araf, from the kibbutz. Everyone there is Russian and Russians.

    Here is another one that I also incorporated into the plots of the second law:

    After three hours in which the supervisor enthusiastically lectures the collective farm members about the achievements of the last five-year plan, he asks if there are any questions.

    Yes, Oona Ishka. If so good why so bad?

    Good question, Comrade Ishka, answers the inspector. We will answer it next week.

    Next week, after another six hours of lecturing on the achievements of the Soviet economy, he asks if there are any questions.

    Yes, beautiful season. If it's so good then where will it drink?

  10. Israel
    Where did this joke come from? She is very successful. Have you heard of Radio Yerevan? . Such a city does exist. This is the capital of Armenia. During the communist period they invented an imaginary radio station called Radio Yerevan and the jokes about communism ran rampant without end. One of them: a listener turns to the station and complains that he is waiting too long for an apartment. The answer: ask too much, you won't have to worry about the apartment at all.

  11. Life

    One day a government inspector arrives at the collective farm and asks Ishka: Well Ishka, how was the potato crop this year?

    Supervising friend, Ishka marvels, we had so many potatoes this year that if we piled them in a heap they would reach God's feet!

    Comrade Ishka, laughs the inspector, you know just as well as I do that there is no God.

    Inspector friend, crying Ishka, you know just as well as I do that there are no potatoes..

  12. Israel
    What do you say when you go from the easiest to the hardest? All Nadri do not eat for one day, all Dakhpin do not eat for a week and Kolkhoz do not eat for the whole year.

  13. Why create robots that imitated human behavior? If anything, then create something more successful and completely get rid of the human models that have not proven themselves very well.

    We had a machine in the collective farm that sows wheat, grows it, harvests it, threshes it, grinds it, bakes it, and eats the bread.

  14. An interesting article for my final exams in which it is possible to implant a chip that will take part of the brain's neural work raises a lot of questions,
    From what I have seen and heard, a significant portion of the neurologists involved in brain research believe that it is possible to create a complete copy of the brain in another material, but one must of course conclude that the brain research is not yet finished, so it is not based on complete information.
    Apparently, from what we already know, there is no obstacle to a robot in the future performing a full human simulation of a person,
    The internal system will be different, but on the outside we will look human and it is possible that almost no difference will be visible,
    The question, of course, is whether there will be behavioral differences as a result of using a different material to implement the information processing system,
    The interesting question is whether that robot will create for itself the same inner feeling that we have the same emotional awareness
    A feeling of love, hatred, anger, a feeling of pain, the feeling of life as the person experiences it, things that are true for us subjectively, but we do not have a perfect true definition, they are not created, only different theories as the number of scientists,
    Like liquids that resemble water in some of their aspects, such as on the moon Titan where there are topographies created from liquids
    which are not based on water and are partially similar to what we are familiar with here, but cannot be the same compounds that are based on water in a liquid state as there are on Earth in a place where there is no liquid water (with caveats maybe there is under the ground),
    Thus it is possible that some of those feelings and emotions that we feel were created
    Within our biological material because there was a survival potential that was realized in an evolutionary way,
    As it is possible that the first life as an analogy was a product of the continuous evolution of a substance that we call inert, of what can be called some kind of understandable response to an "energetic potential difference" around it, something that caused them to change and accumulate in the chemical composition of that inert substance, somewhat reminiscent of the fusion of substances In the heart of the sun from simple to complex,
    It is possible that the first elements of emotions already started to happen in the earliest stages of life, a kind of biological biochemical behavior that gave a survival advantage to the cell that realized it,
    But it is clear that if we look at a single cell as we would at a single neuron, we cannot say that it is an emotion in the human sense, these are a component
    Tiny like a primary building block that creates the emotion like a single cell in a multitude of cells that creates a wonderful organism like a tree,
    In the future, multicellular life was created, the very thing that already had these foundation stones, they created another potential that was eventually realized in additional layers, like circuits that each time create another potential, another possibility and realized in an evolutionary way, like the question that is asked today, has biology taken advantage of the peculiarities of particle mechanics that exist in nature and can give survival potential to an organism that will take advantage of it
    Possible examples are the navigation of the birds, photosynthesis, the sense of smell and more and this is only at the beginning of the initial research,
    This whole issue is, of course, in research and there is nothing definitive here at the moment,
    The question is, is a simulation the real thing? Or maybe when does a simulation become a real thing?
    Can an object like a robot with no real sense of emotion really behave like a human or can a simulation
    also to imitate the same set of behaviors such as fear of death etc.. even though there is not really the same feeling,
    From the direction of going through different ways to reach the same goal and it is an imitation of human behavior?
    Or if at the base you don't have the fears and emotions felt by an organism like a person even along the way we will get different results from the simulation that are not perfectly equal to a human behavioral result?

  15. Israel
    This choir hardly sang the songs of the Red Army. The Russian songs of the choir were written after the war. Other materials are taken from other countries. Their performance of Crusoe's song is exceptional.

  16. In my opinion, there has never been a story as amazing as the story of Russia's war and victory in World War II.

    I once wrote a story called The longest week, about the week in which the most significant turning point in human history occurred: the week that began on December 4, 1941 and ended on the 11th.

  17. Miracles
    Another piece of music
    Singer and singer discovered on The Voice program in Russia. The name of the singer Dina Gripova and the name of the singer Yevgeny Konkurov
    The name of the Sevastopol waltz song
    The song is probably from World War II. To open the week with such a beautiful song.

  18. Israel
    A piece of music for you. If you speak Russian your pleasure will be double and multiplied. I dont know Russian
    This is the Toritsky Choir. The choir was founded in Moscow by a Jewish musician named Mikhail Tortsky in the 80s who wanted to preserve Jewish music. For this purpose he gathered a group of singers from synagogues. Today the choir sings everything. Every year they come to Israel for a series of concerts. As far as I know, in March they are in Israel. All of them are wonderful tenors or baritones. One of them can reach amazingly high notes.

  19. Amazing.

    The real story behind Pygmalion is a little different: Shaw had a student or admirer who he fell in love with but who did not love him back. Eliza's character is based on her, but with a bit of wishful thinking..

    The saying: "But what will happen if the baby inherits my beauty and your intelligence" is also attributed to him.

  20. Oh, there are many more..

    I'd be equally as willing for a dentist to be drilling
    than to ever let a woman in my life.

    She will beg you for advice, your reply will be concise,
    and she will listen very nicely, then go out
    and do precisely what she wants

    You, dear friend, who speaks so well
    You can go to Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire

    And to the point: it is certainly possible to fall in love with a robot, a pet or even a doll as every mother of daughters knows.

    From my experience I know that it is easier to separate mass from a black hole than my puppy from me.

    Not to mention that I am still deeply in love with Belle, Jasmine and all the other mythological Disney girls..

  21. He doesn't fall in love, he just grew accustomed to her face..

    I saw the play in London and another 300 times the movie. last time yesterday

  22. There is the movie Simon where the female character is a computer program.

    And Harry Seldon's wife from the Mossad series, Doris, was a robot.

    And summed up in the words of Henry Higgins:

    I prefer a new edition of the Spanish Inquisition than let a woman in my life.

    (for you, miracles).

  23. Haim,

    If you come across a beautiful woman and fall in love with her, and after several meetings she suddenly reveals to you that she is actually a robot, will your love for her stop? Do you think it's an emotion that can be turned on and off at will like an electric switch?

  24. Miracles
    The sculpted figure is indeed called Pygmalion. The basic idea of ​​this story served as a basis for the musical My Fair Lady, if I'm not mistaken the play itself was written by Bernard Shaw. In the play, a teacher of diction, Professor Gaines takes a girl from the street, teaches her how to speak, how to behave in public and finally falls in love with her. It may be, and I say this carefully, that the story of Pinocchio also rests on this basis. A carpenter who takes wood shavings and builds a child's doll. He himself had no children and finally asked for this doll to turn into a flesh and blood child and indeed that is what happens.

  25. Life
    I know a story by Ovid about a statue in the blood of Pygmalion who fell in love with the statue he created.
    I don't know the movie, but I remember an episode in "The Big Bang" where Raj falls in love with Siri 🙂

  26. Joseph
    If you have a literary talent, try to write a science fiction story on the subject, even if it will be very short, two to three pages. Take it as a challenge. Worth it if only to provoke an argument.

  27. Another vision for the time. But it seems to me that if you have a beautiful robot next to you, it is not certain that hate requires beauty and sustains it. At least some of us. I haven't dissected it in depth with myself.

  28. Joseph
    If a man falls in love with a female robot, he will have to be committed to mental health care. There is an escape from the real thing here. With all the sophistication of a robot or such a robot what do we have? A block of iron, plastic and a lot of electronics and a computer. Can a robot have an orgasm? Sounds disgusting.

  29. There was a movie with Joaquin Phoenix a year ago. There was a movie with Johnny Depp about putting his consciousness into the computer before he died from radiation sickness, and of Scarlett Johansson who is in the computer as consciousness after ingesting a huge amount of a drug that gradually made her use 100% of her brain. The subject of human consciousness in a computer, or falling in love with a computer occupies movies.

    Interesting - if there was a beautiful, smart and witty robot, and responded to our courtships, would we be willing to go for it.

  30. Miracles
    I remember a sci-fi movie from years ago where a man falls in love with a computer programmed with a female voice. You may have seen him. It looks very perverted. There is something similar in Greek mythology about the sculptor Phidas who carved a figure of a woman in marble. He fell in love with her and asked the gods to make her a real woman

  31. Click here to
    You don't have to be smart to say that the future will be different from the past. On the other hand, there is no reason to think that robots will replace humans as partners. Maybe it will surprise you, but children are the greatest pleasure in life….

  32. Eventually scientists will succeed in producing human robots. Once that happens, there will be no need for human partners. Everyone will have a robotic partner who will meet all their needs (emotional and physical).
    Once that happens, the government will have to "produce" babies very quickly. Perhaps in exchange for a large financial compensation for those who are willing to take on the burden, or in general - to pay to receive sperm and eggs, and from there on robots will take over the job.
    If this is not carried out in an optimal way, it is possible that the humans will disappear and only robots will remain here (according to the "Borg" in Star Trek, only that nothing means that they will be is possible that they will be human, because they will create in our protection).
    In any case - the future is going to be completely different from what we have seen in the last 5000 years...

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