Japanese people may have become somewhat accustomed to the sight of a robot greeting them when they enter a store or some such place since robots have been employed as receptionists in Japan for some time now.
However, Europe is catching up, with new reports of two separate instances of robots being employed as receptionists.
In one report, the Guardian highlights the employment of Pepper, the SoftBank robot, now greeting visitors and patients at hospitals in Liege and Ostend, in Belgium.
In another report, the Telegraph showcases Betty the robot, who is employed managing an office in Milton Keynes, UK. Developed by the Strands Project, Betty may not be as aesthetically pleasing as Pepper, but she has more responsibilities, such as checking to see if staff are working late and if doors are closed and so on.
The UK Labour Party is urging the government to turn away from “the gods of the free market” and instead roll out the red carpet to our new robot overlords.
Or at least that’s what could be inferred from an opinion piece written by the Labour Party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, who made it clear that he favours mechatronics over abstract notions of free markets.
“A robot driving a lorry may sound daunting, just as a horseless carriage did in 1890. But a driverless car doesn’t get tired, or drink alcohol, or have blind spots,” writes Watson in praise of the machines.
Watson calls for a royal commission into the issue of robotics and automation in the UK, claiming that the chancellor, George Osborne, is leaving to fate to decide whether technological change becomes “out ally not our foe”.
The founder of one of the most interesting startups in recent years says he is working on a special kind of artificial intelligence that will potentially solve all of humanity’s problems, according to an interview on The Guardian website.
Demis Hassabis, whose DeepMind company was bought by Google a couple of years ago for $625 million, refers to his version of AI as artificial general intelligence, or AGI.
He says AGI can potentially find solutions to “cancer, climate change, energy, genomics, macroeconomics, financial systems, physics”, and many of the systems which are getting too complex for humans to master.
Hassabis says: “There’s such an information overload that it’s becoming difficult for even the smartest humans to master it in their lifetimes. How do we sift through this deluge of data to find the right insights? One way of thinking of AGI is as a process that will automatically convert unstructured information into actionable knowledge. What we’re working on is potentially a meta-solution to any problem.”
DeepMind recently beat a grandmaster in the ancient Chinese game Go, a feat that was previously thought beyond the abilities of computers. Hassibis himself is a former chess master and video games designer.