Designed in 2 Minutes?

Friday, October 29, 2004


The BBC are running a news article at about 'robotiquette' rules. The idea is to lay down guidelines for how a robot should interact with a human - to "treat humans as human beings, and not like other robots".

At the moment robotics, and indeed generic computer interfaces, haven't yet reached the sort of complexity to be a 'companion' to a human. Rather they are still seen as tools more than anything else. This is changing though with the production of 'toy' (ie. gimmick!) robots such as Robosapien ( and the Aibo dog ( which are designed purely for entertainment and, sad as it sounds, companionship.

Therefore this set of guidelines is being drawn up to help develop a code of social behaviour should a robot find itself in a socially-sensitive situation. Imagine, for example, a babysitter robot which adjusts its behaviour to be polite, respectful, and submissive in terms of language used and even tone of 'voice' when dealing with the parents of a child, but can switch to becoming authoritative and dominant, yet playful when interacting with the child, as any good human babysitter does.

An important example the BBC report gives is that of understanding different cultural backgrounds. Anyone who has seen the HSBC ("Your local bank") adverts on TV will understand how different cultures interpret different actions and body lanugage, and why it is desirable for a robot to take this into account.

Robots will also have to be trained to interact successfully with groups of people, and potentially even with other robots in a group setting.


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