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新型家庭机器人Jibo问世

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

新型“家庭机器人”Jibo问世。它具有看、听、说、学等功能,而且可以帮助人们干许多家务活。当讲笑话时,它的眼睛还会眯成了一个小小的月芽。

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.
乍一看,Jibo长得有点像皮克斯动画工作室(Pixar)创作的《机器人总动员》(Wall-E)里那个主人公的女友Eve。Jibo和Eve的外观都颇具未来主义范儿,看上去像是苹果公司(Apple)的产品:光滑的白色塑料外壳,圆润的曲线,一张充当“脸”的黑色屏幕,转动灵活。

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.
Jibo被称做一款“家庭机器人”,因为它具有看、听、说、学等功能,而且可以帮助我们干许多家务活。它(或者说“他”?)可以使用自然语言来表达自己,并且可以“使用社交性和感性的暗示,让你们更好地理解对方。”总之,Jibo致力于成为一个居家伙伴。

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.)
到目前为止,人们都很喜欢Jibo。上个月Jibo推出了一个众筹项目,很快就从3500多人那里筹集到了150多万美元,轻而易举地超过了该公司预设的10万美元的目标。(这家总部位于波士顿的公司预计,第一批定价为499美元的产品要等到2015年冬的假日季才能上市。该公司表示,推出这个众筹项目是为了激发软件开发者为Jibo设计应用程序的兴趣。)

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.
当然,我也要去见一下Jibo。在曼哈顿市中心的一家酒店的房间里,两个Jibo机器人和它们的发明者辛西娅•布雷西亚博士正在等着我。事实证明,Jibo的功能还没有充分完善。就在我观看一段准备好的演示视频时,大概一英尺高的Jibo突然扭过头来直勾勾地看着我。这种眼神一开始让我觉得有点紧张,好像是被一台安保摄像机盯着。一旦开始说话,它给人的感觉就自然多了——至少像80年代科幻片里的机器人一样自然。和那些自动化程度不高的智能设备相比(比如智能手机),准备向我传递新信息时,Jibo不会粗鲁地“嗡”或“叮”一声,而是会礼貌地说道:“打扰了,艾林”,然后等我做出反应后,才会继续说话。

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.
在房间里,Jibo向我展示旋转,偏头等动作,以及一些他搭载的一些程序。最后他以一个很劲爆的笑话结束了表演。当这个笑点惹得他大笑的时候,Jibo眼睛眯成了一个小小的月芽。

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可以实现一些功能,比如给小孩子讲故事、利用面部识别技术抓拍家庭照片等等。它也可以用Skype打电话,另外某些需要用手机完成的通讯也可以通过他来完成。Jibo是为家庭设计的,它可以放在桌子或工作台上。在一段展示视频中,当一个男人下班回家时,Jibo立即向他问好,然后问他需要不需要叫中餐外卖。在另一幕中,一个女人正在揉面。这时Jibo提醒她,她的女儿很快要来接她外出购物。那个女人回答道:“谢谢你,Jibo。”和《摩登家庭》里简•杰特森对Rosie所说的话没什么区别。

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.
Jibo也可以和智能手机一起工作,但布雷西亚决定给予它一个属于自己的大脑,而不是完全依赖智能手机。她认为智能手机会限制它的能力。事实证明,人们并不喜欢把自己的手机放在一个机器人身上,而是喜欢一直把手机拿在手上。

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.
目前还不知道,这究竟是不是一个明智的决定,这样做能否给Jibo带来好销量。但对这个问题最有发言权的人,可能还是Jibo的发明者布雷西亚。早在麻省理工学院(MIT)读书时,布雷西亚就把她的整个职业生涯奉献给了社交型机器人。她最初不明白为什么美国国家航空航天局(NASA)可以把机器人送上火星,却不能把机器人送进地球上的千家万户。后来她究其根源,觉得这是因为机器人在设计上缺乏社交性的缘故。后来布雷西亚设计了她的第一款专门针对小孩子的社交机器人Kismet。从那时起,她发表了不计其数的关于社交型机器人的论文。2010年,她还在TED大会上针对这个课题发表了一篇演讲。她认为,人们会像跟真人沟通一样与仿人型机器人进行交流。而能够传递感性信号的机器人,可以提高人们的代入感、参与感和协作性,这是缺少人性化因素的工作机器人所做不到的。

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.
布雷西亚表示,Jibo有意地没有设计成人的外型。Jibo的目标是创建她所谓的“拟人体验”,因为她认为:“那才是让人之所以成为人的东西。”试图模仿人类外观的机器人不免科幻色彩太浓了。

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.”
“在理想世界里,等我们老了,每个人都应该至少有一名善良、合格的人类护工来照顾我们的身体和精神需求。但我们大多数人并非住在‘理想国’,因此一个可靠的机器人很可能强于一个不可靠甚至有虐待倾向的人——更别说可能根本没人来照顾我们。”

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.
这篇文章声称,在日本,由于护工不足,机器人已经承担起了与老年痴呆患者交谈的任务。类似的护士机器人也出现在了瑞典等欧洲国家。

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.”
“在我看来,把大量的老人和孩子关在屋子里——尤其是有残疾的儿童,然后用机器人陪着他们干这干那,而全球大量的人类则忙着找一份勉强糊口的工作,这其实比狄更斯笔下的机器工业化噩梦更可怕,比卡夫卡笔下冷漠、疏远的职场更可悲。”

“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.”
“这相当于放弃了对保持人性的渴望,放弃了通过关爱来彼此联系,放弃了互相照顾。”

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.”
图菲克希认为,从失业数据来看,我们并非面临护工的短缺。相反,“我们面临的是缺乏关爱。”

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.”
“有48%的受访者认为,未来10年里,机器人将会取代大量白领和蓝领工人。这不仅会导致大量人口失业,还会导致社会失序。”

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.”
布雷西亚认为,Jibo并不是要成为老年人的护工,也不想取代人力劳动。研制这些机器人的目的,是为了帮助用户能够独立面对老年生活。她表示:“Jibo是要给人以能量,帮助人们做他们想做、需要做的事,而不是要取代别人。”

“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.”
她表示:“有很多人本能地表示反对。我们并不是要发明一个机器人护工,而是要让人们能够独立生活,在情感上与他们的家庭保持连接,因为这才是最重要的。”(财富中文网)



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