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2014-08-18    来源:财富网    【      美国外教 在线口语培训


At first glance, Jibo looks a bit like Wall-E’s robot girlfriend. Both Jibo, a real robot, and Wall-E’s girlfriend, the fictional Pixar character, have the look of a futuristic Apple product: reflective white plastic, round curves, a black screen for a “face,” and smooth swiveling movements.

But Jibo’s raison d’être is slightly more in line with Rosie, the robot maid from the 1960s animated television series The Jetsons, and its operating system is more akin to the one employed by Samantha, the artificially intelligent character from the 2013 Spike Jonze film Her. (One key difference: Jibo is male, according to its makers.)
不过从本质上看,Jibo其实更像上世纪60年代动画片《摩登家庭》(The Jetsons)里的机器人女佣Rosie。它的操作系统更类似于2013年斯派克•琼斯的电影《她》(Her)中的虚拟人工智能角色Samantha使用的那种。(但根据其制作者介绍,一个关键的区别是,Jibo其实是个男孩。)

Jibo is described as a “family robot” because it is able to see, hear, speak, learn, and help families with a variety of tasks around the house. It—he?—can “relate” by expressing itself in natural language, using “social and emotive cues so you understand each other better.” Jibo is meant to be a companion.

It’s the creation of a team of robot architects, cloud computing engineers, animators, conversational technologists, and human-robot interaction engineers. Jibo, Inc. is backed by $5.59 million in venture funding from investors including Charles River Ventures, Fairhaven Capital Partners, Osage University Partners, and angel backers.
它是一群机器人设计师、云计算工程师、动画工程师、会话技术专家和人机互动工程师的心血之作。Jibo公司也从查尔斯河风险投资公司(Charles River Ventures)、菲尔海文资本合作公司(Fairhaven Capital Partners)、奥塞治大学合伙公司(Osage University Partners)和天使投资人那里获得了559万美元的融资。

So far, people like Jibo. A crowdfunding campaign, launched last month, raked in more than $1.5 million from more than 3,500 people, handily surpassing its $100,000 target. (The Boston-based company does not expect to ship its first units, priced at $499 each, until the 2015 winter holiday season. The crowdfunding campaign is designed to get developers excited about building apps for the robot, it said.)

Naturally, I had to meet Jibo. Off to a hotel room in Midtown Manhattan, then, where two Jibos and Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, the robot’s creator, awaited me. The robot is not yet fully functioning, it turns out. I watched a prepared demo where Jibo, about a foot tall, turned to look me in the eye. This was disarming at first, as if I was being followed by a security camera. Once he started talking to me, it began to feel more natural—as natural as a robot in a 1980s science fiction movie, anyway. Unlike his lesser robotic peers, or, say, a smartphone, Jibo did not rudely buzz or ding when there was a new message to communicate to me. He politely said, “Excuse me, Erin,” and waited for me to respond before continuing.

In the room, Jibo showed off his swiveling, spinning and leaning moves to me, along with some of the programs he’ll feature. He ended his performance with a cheesy joke, and his eyes turned to tiny half-moons when he laughed at the punch line.

Jibo can perform a number of functions. He can tell children’s stories and snap family photos using face recognition. He can place Skype calls and handle communications for which you would normally use a phone. Jibo is meant to stay in the home, perched on a table or countertop, and a demo video shows him greeting a single man when he comes home from work and offering to order Chinese takeout. In another scene, Jibo is hanging out while a woman kneads bread. He chimes in to remind her that her daughter is picking her up soon. “Thanks, Jibo,” the woman responds, not unlike Jane Jetson talking to Rosie.

Jibo can be considered the next logical step past today’s “telepresence” robots, which work only by connecting a smartphone or tablet—a brain, if you will—to a mobile base. For example, Romo augments your cell phone with rubber tank treads, though it requires a tablet or another phone to serve as a remote controller. Ubooly is a plush children’s toy in which parents can insert their cell phone for playtime. The Double telepresence robot, essentially an iPad on top of a Segway, allows people to feel physically present in meetings and move around the office when they’re working remotely. It’s a bit like Max Headroom on a broomstick and, to be frank, a little silly in practice.
Jibo可以被视为目前的“远程呈现”机器人的下一步发展方向。所谓的“远程呈现”机器人就是把一台手机或平板电脑(也就是机器人的“大脑”)连接到一个移动基座上。比如,Romo无非就是给你的手机安装了一个橡胶“坦克底盘”,而且它还需要另一台平板或手机作为遥控器。Ubooly则是一款儿童玩具,父母可以把他们的手机插到毛绒玩具的肚子里,让它陪孩子玩。远程呈现机器人Double,本质上就是把iPad放在一辆赛格威两轮车(Segway)上面,让身处异地的人们觉得他们亲自参加会议或在办公室走来走去。它有点像英剧《超级麦克斯》(Max Headroom)里的主人公,但老实说,实际使用时,它看起来真是蠢萌蠢萌的。

Jibo works with smartphones, but Breazeal chose to give the robot its own brain, rather than rely on a smartphone. The smartphone would have limited the robot’s capabilities, she says. As it turns out, people don’t like to put their phones into a robot anyway. They prefer to keep it on hand, Breazeal says.

Whether that can make a difference—or translate to sales of in-home robots—is up for debate, but if anyone can figure this out, it’s Jibo’s inventor. Breazeal has dedicated her career to social robots, starting as a grad student at M.I.T. When she was younger, she didn’t understand why NASA was sending robots to Mars but they still hadn’t arrived in people’s homes. It’s because those robots weren’t designed to be social, she reasoned. Breazeal went on to build the first a social robot, which was called Kismet and intended for children. She has since published numerous studies on social robotics and in 2010 delivered a TED talk on the subject. People respond to human-like robots the same way they respond to people, she argued, and robots with the ability to convey expression increase empathy, engagement, and collaboration among people in a way that a robot with a flat demeanor cannot.

An estimated 3 million service robots, which are intended for personal and domestic use, were sold in 2012, according to the International Federation of Robotics, representing sales of $1.2 billion. The IFR predicts 22 million robots to be sold through 2016.
根据国际机器人联合会(International Federation of Robotics)统计,2012年,全球共售出大约300万台家用和个人用途的服务型机器人,销售额达12亿美元。该组织预测称,到2016年,全球将卖出2200万台机器人。

Jibo is purposely designed to not resemble a human, Breazeal says. The goal is to create what she calls a humanized experience, “because that’s what empowers people,” she says. Robots that try to look like human beings end up being a little too science fiction.

Artificial intelligence has certainly been top-of-mind for many Americans, both because of the film Her and ever-present economic fears that robots will make our jobs redundant. A recent New York Times article, “The Future of Robot Caregivers,” sunnily outlined how robots could lighten the burden of caring for aging baby boomers:
人工智能无疑是很多美国人耳熟能详的东西,这既托了电影《她》的福,也是因为很多人一直担心机器人会抢了我们的饭碗。《纽约时报》(The New York Times)最近刊发的一篇名为《机器人护士的未来》的文章乐观地表示,机器人护工未来可能会承担起照顾“婴儿潮”一代老年人的重任,从而将大大减轻我们这一代年轻人的养老压力。

“In an ideal world, it would be: Each of us would have at least one kind and fully capable human caregiver to meet our physical and emotional needs as we age. But most of us do not live in an ideal world, and a reliable robot may be better than an unreliable or abusive person, or than no one at all.”

In Japan, robots help with a nursing shortage by conversing with patients that have dementia. Similar life-helper robots can be found in Sweden and around Europe, according to the Times.

Not everyone welcomes this development. “This how to fail the third machine age,” wrote Zeynep Tufekci, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina’s iSchool, in response to the article.
但也并非所有人都欢迎这种新进展。对于这篇文章,北卡罗来纳大学(University of North Carolina)信息学院社会学教授泽伊内普•图菲克希撰文回应道:“这是第三个机器时代的失败。”

“In my view, warehousing elderly and children—especially children with disabilities—in rooms with machines that keep them busy, when large numbers of humans beings around the world are desperate for jobs that pay a living wage is worse than the Dickensian nightmares of mechanical industrialization, it’s worse than the cold, alienated workplaces depicted by Kafka.”

“It’s an abdication of a desire to remain human, to be connected to each other through care, and to take care of each other.”

Tufekci argues that based on unemployment figures, we’re not facing a shortage of caregivers. Rather, she writes, “we’re facing a shortage of caring.”

Meanwhile, a new study from Pew Research suggests that tech industry influencers are split on whether robots will help or hurt the economy. Just over half of those surveyed believed robots won’t take away more jobs than they create, resulting in a net positive for the economy. However, the other half felt less optimistic about our robotic future.
与此同时,皮尤研究中心(Pew Research)的一项新研究显示,对科技行业有影响力的人们在机器人究竟会促进还是会损害国民经济的问题上持不同态度。约半数以上受访者认为,机器人抢走的工作不会比它们创造的工作多,因此会给经济带来正能量。另一半受访者则对与机器人共处的未来感到不太乐观。

“The other 48%, though, think that robots will displace huge numbers of white and blue collar workers in the next 10 years, which would not only leave people unemployed but which could disrupt social order.”

Breazeal contends that Jibo isn’t meant to be a caregiver for aging people or a replacement for human labor. The robots are meant to help older users age independently. “Jibo is about empowerment and helping people do what they want to do and what they need to do,” she says. “Its not about replacing people.”

“There’s a lot of kneejerk reaction,” she adds. “We’re not trying to create a robot caregiver at all. We’re empowering people to live independently and be emotionally connected to their family, because that’s what matters.”

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