Science

06/11/2013

Rock, paper, scissors robot

Rock, paper, scissors robot 2

(From Daily Mail) It knows no fear, no mercy… and it is unbeatable.

Luckily, the only thing this robot is interested in is winning at rock, paper, scissors, the classic game often played to help us humans resolve minor disputes.

It’s been said that the complexity of the human brain can never be artificially recreated. But for all our neurons and synapses, there is no way to defeat this robot its game of choice.

With our original thought, ingenuity and predictive powers of reasoning, you might think humans would have the advantage.

But the one thing this robot, designed by the Ishikawa Oku Lab at the University of Tokyo, Japan, has above humans – and which makes it unbeatable – is a high-speed vision system.

The robot is basically a cheat, watching its opponents’ finger movements, analysing them in the merest fraction of a second, and then choosing the winning move.

As everyone knows, that’s a gross violation of the rules of rock, paper, scissors – a game known as janken to the Japanese – which stipulate that moves must be made simultaneously by both players.

But the analysis is so quick, it is imperceptible.

According to the lab website, the recognition of the human hand ‘can be performed at 1ms with a high-speed vision, and the position and the shape of the human hand is recognised.’

Another millisecond passes and the robot has made his decision, and plays his move. Another defeat for humanity.

So if, in a few years you find that, however hard you try, you cannot beat a friend at this game, look him closely in the eye.

But the creators of the machine do not envisage their technology to contribute to an inevitable rise of the machines. Rather, they hope it might help humans and robots work together better.

‘This technology is one example that show a possibility of cooperation control within a few miliseconds,’ they say.

‘And this technology can be applied to motion support of human beings and cooperation work between human beings and robots etc. without time delay.’

The robot shown is the second generation janken machine developed by the Ishikawa Oku Lab. The first completed its shape about 20ms after the human hand.

Version two finishes almost simultaneously, just one millisecond – one one-thousandth of a second – later.

But in a world where everything is speeding up that still might not be fast enough, said Sethu Vijayakumar, professor of robotics at Edinburgh University.

He told the BBC: ‘These robots are really fast at reaction, but there are scenarios where even a millisecond’s delay is not acceptable, such as accident avoidance or virtual stock markets.

‘In these cases we need to combine high-speed reaction with high-speed prediction, using game theory and behaviour patterning.’

Meanwhile, all we can do is hope the eventual truce between robots and mankind is not settled over a game of Rock, Paper, Scissor. Although it might improve the ending of Terminator 4.

(read the full story)

 






 
 

 
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