Happy National Robotics Week. Here at InformationWeek's IT Life community, we really think this ought be a national holiday. Everyone should get to take a week off of work so they can build robots and give them to each other. Since we can't do that, the next best thing is to bring on a robotics expert and devote an entire hour to talking about them. That's what we're doing on IT Life Radio on Wednesday, April 8, at 3:00 p.m. ET.
In a world where robots are perceived by some naysayers as dangerous, Aldebaran Robotics is making social robots designed to mix into the family units, schools, and retail settings. They are emotionally sensitive, capable of talking to you, learning your tastes and interests, and even singing your favorite song.
That's a far cry from the mindless killing machines some folks are worried about. Robots are even starting to inspire protests like those that occurred at SXSW. I ask you, do any of those cuties look like they will take over the world? Are they like the creepy little girl we see in horror movies, the one who is scares us precisely because she looks so sweet?
[Want to know more about what those protestors thought, and why they were wrong? Read Robots Unleashed: 4 Reasons We're Not Doomed.]
Here's the thing: Like it or not, robots are entering the workplace. Right now, they're mostly in manufacturing, or in the form of remote drones for dangerous work. But one day one of these social robots is going to be sophisticated enough to work in the cubicle next to yours. We're already seeing hotels using robots to interact with guests. If robots can do that, they can be in your office as receptionists, or helping out in the call center.
With that in mind, it seemed like a great time to talk about the honest capabilities of social robots and artificial intelligence right now. And the near future of those robots, in and out of the workplace.
We'll talk to Rodolphe Gelin, our IT Life Radio guest from Aldebaran, about:
- The role of social robots in the enterprise
- Social robots in our lives
- Whether we should fear robots
- How to make robots fit into our lives
Since December 2008, Rodolphe has been responsible for the collaborative projects at Aldebaran Robotics. He has led various teams at Aldebaran in several national and European collaborative projects. He is most notably the head of the Romeo2 project involving 18 French partners, industrial and academic, in the implementation of a large robot for assistance to the elderly.
Rodolphe joined the French Atomic Energy Commission (Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique: CEA) after completing his studies. He worked for 10 years on the control of mobile robots for service applications, for cleaning, and for helping the disabled. In 1998, he became the leader of the laboratory service robotics. In 2001 he was appointed head of cognitive service robotics and interaction at CEA LIST (technological research division) in Saclay. From 2006 through December 2008, he was responsible for the Interactive System program, where he developed important partnerships within the industry. As part of the European CARE project, Rodolphe handled the European professional service robotics roadmap. On behalf of the ISO (International Organization for Standardization), he led the working group on the definition of the robotic vocabulary.
Tune in Wednesday, April 8 at 3:00 p.m. ET to find out if robots are our new friends or our new overlords.
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