In Her, Spike Jonze’s Oscar-winning romance between a man and his operating system, we are pushed to reevaluate our relationships with computers. If it could listen and respond intelligently to your every concern, would you prefer dating a computer over a distracted, self-involved human? But for me, it’s not in my love life that I feel most replaceable. It’s in my choice of profession—medicine.
It started innocently enough. Robots like the DaVinci surgical system behaved as tools, needing the hands of their masters to function. Then some advanced past mechanical labor to read and write, and became a little less deferent. Electronic health records stop doctors if we prescribe the wrong medications or if we forget to ask the right questions at an annual checkup.
Now machines have become stand-ins. Virtual avatars called “relational agents” handle daily conversations to motivate weight loss and “watch” while patients take their medications. And their diagnostic skills are improving: In January 2013, a group from Indiana University achieved 41.9% better diagnostic accuracy with their artificial intelligence algorithm than trained physicians. Four years of medical school and five-plus years of residency later, we’ve got nothing on Her.
Um einen Studienplatz muss sich Torobokun keine Sorgen machen. Die Aufnahmeprüfungen an japanischen Universitäten würde der Roboter locker schaffen.
Last week at the Army Aviation Symposium, in Arlington, Va., a U.S. Army officer announced that the Army is looking to slim down its personnel numbers and adopt more robots over the coming years. The biggest surprise, though, is the scale of the downsizing the Army might aim for.
At the current rate, the Army is expected to shrink from 540,000 people down to 420,000 by 2019. But at last week’s event, Gen. Robert Cone, head of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, offered some surprising details about the slim-down plans. As Defense News put it, he “quietly dropped a bomb,” saying the Army is studying the possibility of reducing the size of a brigade from 4,000 soldiers to 3,000 in the coming years.
Star Wars’ R2-D2 shows that a robot—even one that looks more like a trash can than a person—can make people laugh and cry. Now, in research to be presented at the International Communication Association conference in London, scientists have shown that when the human brain witnesses love for or violence against a robot, it reacts in much the same way as if the robot were human.
Engineers worldwide are developing robots to act as companions for people—for instance, to help the elderly at home or patients in hospitals. However, after the novelty of using a robot fades, people often feel less interested in using them. Scientists want to learn how to create more-engaging robots, but there has been little systematic research on how people react emotionally toward them.