A startup company called Vicarious says the artificial intelligence system it has developed enables robots to follow instruction manuals.
This means that, for the first time ever, all the efforts of the writers of instruction manuals will not be totally wasted.
However, actually reading the words is still a way off. Vicarious’ AI enables robots to simply look at diagrams and follow those.
“The instructions for Ikea are infamously simple,” says Vicarious in its blog. “There are no words, no crash courses in allen wrenches, just a little cartoon individual that is slowly working its way through the same problem you are.
“And though there might be more swearing and sweating on your end, by the time you reach the last diagram in the series, you and that unflappable little cartoon have the same piece of furniture sitting in front of you.”
Vicarious says it required insights from cognitive science and neuroscience to give its AI the brains required to understand the diagrams.
The company says it is excited about the research directions opened up by this project.
And while it says “a cursing furniture-building robot is not in our plans”, Vicarious is planning to build “the sort of common sense necessary to make robots more common”.