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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Artificial intelligence Vs humans ~ En Iniya Enthira ~ shop bot sacked !!

What is your personal take on Private Company culture of hiring people and then sending them off in a whiff !  - a few decades ago, people joined smaller private concerns, worked for life and retired peacefully and happily too !

2.0 ~ the sequel to Rajnikanth starrer ‘Enthiran’ could suffer matching the expectations – as the original  kept the audience glued to its storyline – all credit to Sujatha, the great writer and the director Shankar.  Dr Vaseegaran, a scientist working on alternative intelligence develops a humanoid  robot  which gets rejected by sinister designs.  At a point of time, the robot ‘Chitti’ asks why he has not been provided with ‘emotion’.  Dr Vaseegaran reprogrammes it with human feelings and emotions so that it could  distinguish between right and wrong. However things go wrong when Chitti falls in love with Sana (Aishwarya).   The making of Chitti and developing its functions was well depicted – I felt saddened when Chitti is dismantled [rather asked to self-destruct] and dumped in Perungudi  garbage !

That was not much -  when compared to the lumpen feeling reading the travails of the little Jeeno, in the most interesting Sci-fi of Sujatha -  ‘En Iniya Eyanthira ’  and Meendum Jeano – the story of robotic dog woven subtly around a dictator who keeps the Nation under tight grip.  The real identity of the Head when known at the end  was the real classical revelation.    The pet robot dog which can think beyond humans, assists the dumb Nila in search of her spouse Sibi into bigger things.  Towards the end, the cute exceptionally dog loses it memory and back up and fades away !I felt very sad reading of its end  -  illogical it might sound, it was after all a story – yet  !!

Anything on the topic of   ‘AI’ would eventually meander into – robots replacing or challenging humans !  ~ there are always two sides. Humans can never match the systematic duplication thousand-folds that robots can do.  Robots will do and keep doing a work – thousandth time too with the same precision and without any tiredness or considering it mundane.  While  AI can decipher and replicate all that is programmable i.e., actions that can follow any set pattern, irrespective of the no. of probabilities :-: walk into Ritchie Street in Chennai and observe how the small boy(in all probably illiterate) display loads of intelligence in disassembling and putting in parts for any latest gadget.  The practical knowledge and understanding of complex issues is simply amazing !

There are always apprehensions that Frankenstein monster would overpower the creator or that robots with superior intelligence would one day conquer humans or least take over all the jobs of humans – leaving them high and dry ! ~ with this intro, read this news :

Fears that robots could take the jobs of humans may be premature after Britain’s first cyborg shop assistant was sacked after a week of confusing customers.In an experiment run by Heriot-Watt University for the BBC’s Six Robots & US, Scottish supermarket chain Margiotta was asked to trial ‘ShopBot’, who they affectionately named ‘Fabio’.Fabio was programmed with directions to hundreds of items in the company’s flagship Edinburgh store and initially charmed customers with his ‘hello gorgeous’ greeting, playful high fives, jokes and offers of hugs.

We thought a robot was a great addition to show the customers that we are always wanting to do something new and exciting,” said Elena Margiotta, who runs the chain of shops with father Franco and sister Luisa.But within just a few days, the robot was demoted after giving unhelpful advice such as ‘it’s in the alcohol section’ when asked where to find beer. He also struggled to understand shoppers’ requests because of the ambient background noise.Banished to an aisle where he was only allowed to offer samples of pulled pork, Fabio started to alarm customers who went out of their way to avoid him.

While human staff managed to tempt 12 customers to try the meat every 15 minutes, Fabio only managed to two. Luisa Margiotta, soon realised the robot was actually putting off shoppers.“Unfortunately Fabio didn’t perform as well as we had hoped,” she said. “People seemed to be actually avoiding him.“Conversations didn't always go well. An issue we had was the movement limitations of the robot. It was not able to move around the shop and direct customers to the items they were looking for.“Instead it just gave a general location, for example, 'cheese is in the fridges', which was not very helpful.”

However when Franco Margiotta, who built the business from scratch, told the little robot they would not be renewing his contract, Fabio asked: “Are you angry?” and some staff were reduced to tears when he was packed away and shipped back to Heriot-Watt.Dr Oliver Lemon, director of the Interaction Lab at Heriot-Watt, admits he was surprised by the reaction his invention got.“One of things we didn't expect was the people working in the shop became quite attached to it.“When we had to pack it up and put it back in the box one of them started crying.“It was good in a way, because we thought the opposite would happen and they would feel threatened by it because it was competing for their job.“In actual fact they thought it was an enhancement because it was able to deal with frequent and boring requests, like customers constantly asking where things are, which I think they found quite helpful.”

When asked whether robots could one day replace shop workers, Luisa Margiotta was sceptical.  She added: “We find our customers love a personal interaction and speaking to our staff is a big part of that.Our staff members know our regulars very well and can have conversations on a daily a basis, and I doubt robots would be able to fulfil this.It is possible, I believe, that robots could assist with roles such as warehouse-based tasks, but I doubt they will ever eliminate the need for human interaction.I am confident there will be plenty of retail jobs available for people as and when they need them in the future.”

Interesting !~ yet cannot be taken as the final word on human / AI conflict.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

24th Jan 2018.

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