Feb 25 • 6M

Robots in the house

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Dr. Nels Lindahl
Thoughts about technology (AI/ML) in newsletter form every Friday
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Right before sitting down to work on this post I recorded the audio for week 108. My voice has almost recovered all the way from catching that pandemic thing in December. It’s interesting that sustaining vocal quality would be one of the last things to stabilize from that distinctly unwanted experience. You have probably been able to hear that within the last few recorded podcasts. I just did not have that totality of vocal control. I might go back and record that audio segment again, but at this point it is entirely possible that won’t happen based on time and the weight of other commitments this week. I was also a little concerned when Audacity, the software I use for this recording, required an update before the recording started, but it was apparently a small one and I was able to start the recording process within a couple of minutes. It’s very possible that this missive would go out without an audio edition. You however know that is not the case.

It turned out that I was able to sit down and record the audio version of this Substack post. Right now I’m working without my backlog due to some unavoidable things that disrupted my writing routine a bit. I’m hopeful that given a little bit of time a few weeks of backlog will build back up, but right now each post is as fresh as it will ever be as things are being written directly before being recorded as part of my weekend writing routine. Typically it is better to have the posts created within the 5 week planning and review cycle. At this point, that is not possible. Welcome to the now and being in the moment as the very freshest words are brought your way within this missive of consideration for Substack. 

For the most part households adopted some machines pretty quickly and in a sustained way. Depending on where you are, microwaves, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers are a part of the technology footprint in households. None of those devices need to be connected to either WiFi or Bluetooth to be operational. They existed for many years without that type of connectivity. This essay happens to be about robots in the house and the aforementioned appliances are not really what people talk about in terms of modern robotics in the household. It’s something more mobile that gets a lot of attention. To be fair a lot of robot vacuum brands and companies now exist. They roam and clean, get stuck, and have to be rescued and maintained. 

I went out to find some papers that referenced the Roomba and they seem to have peaked between 2006 to 2007. Which I thought was a very interesting element to see within this literature review. They just sort of stopped in frequency. Here are three of them that were well referenced. 

Forlizzi, J., & DiSalvo, C. (2006, March). Service robots in the domestic environment: a study of the roomba vacuum in the home. In Proceedings of the 1st ACM SIGCHI/SIGART conference on Human-robot interaction (pp. 258-265). https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~kiesler/publications/2006pdfs/2006_service-robots-roomba.pdf

Tribelhorn, B., & Dodds, Z. (2007, April). Evaluating the Roomba: A low-cost, ubiquitous platform for robotics research and education. In Proceedings 2007 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (pp. 1393-1399). IEEE. https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/document?repid=rep1&type=pdf&doi=15cb2263caf26ac68906858093ae8d7749ad7827 

Jones, J. L. (2006). Robots at the tipping point: the road to iRobot Roomba. IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine, 13(1), 76-78. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Joseph-Jones-14/publication/3344755_Robots_at_the_tipping_point_the_road_to_iRobot_Roomba/links/5728aa7308ae2efbfdb7dce8/Robots-at-the-tipping-point-the-road-to-iRobot-Roomba.pdf 

None of these robots in the house are equipped with any conversational subroutines. Within the worlds created by science fiction writers it is not uncommon for the robots in the house to talk back and demonstrate some degree of personality. We currently have no legitimate AGI that would facilitate that type of exchange. It’s probably up next at some point. Now that both Microsoft (powered by OpenAI) and Google are trying to create chat-like interactions I’m guessing that chatting with the robots in the house will arrive as a feature. Right now in Google Scholar searches you can find almost 5,000 results for ChatGPT [1].

Links and thoughts:

Top 6 Tweets of the week:


[1] https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C6&q=chatgpt&btnG= 

What’s next for The Lindahl Letter? 

  • Week 110: Understanding knowledge graphs

  • Week 111: Natural language processing 

  • Week 112: Autonomous vehicles

  • Week 113: Structuring an introduction to AI ethics

  • Week 114: How does confidential computing work?

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