Friday, July 11, 2008

Robotron 2084 watch: things robots do better than humans

Here's a list of things which robots/computers do better than people (or at which an individual robot has defeated the best human challengers:

air hockey
exploring other planets
giving driving directions (though this is a counterexample)

I plan to add to this list as I think of things. Actually, I could add things like "do math quickly and accurately", but that's not in the spirit of the list. So this list is really a list of things that robots/computers do better than people that in the recent past people did better than robots/computers.


Blogger grishnash said...

Of course, the examples you mention have some pretty important underlying differences in their scope as I see them:

The air hockey and chess examples are ones that once the robots/computers have gained the advantage, it's unlikely to go back to humans. Those are pretty much permanent victories.

The "exploring other planets" goes to robots right now, but only for a reason that's really independent of the abilities of either robot or human assigned to the task. It's more about having the funds/technology for the rockets to get them there and back. The robots might weigh more than humans, but humans need to bring all that food/air/water with them. Outside of this constraint, I'd still place the humans as the better explorers, which is why you don't see robots doing the field work in any but the most inhospitable environments (basically space and the deep oceans). Robots/computers still kind of suck at recognizing and interpreting which things are "interesting" on their own. There is still a window where a huge infusion of cash/technology could push humans back to the top of this one at least temporarily before the autonomous A.I. advances put it out of reach.

And finally, on the map directions, I would still put an asterisk on that one, but that may just be my ignorance of how Google works. I know Google has access to the traffic data, but does it take this into account while giving directions? I know other mapping software tends to use a bad oversimplification of how driving distance relates to time, which can sometimes result in horribly inefficient directions. Humans seem to know how to react better to a big stream of brake lights than the computers. Also, I've seen them not know how to deal with road closures that require a little backtracking in the detour. I've seen them produce some really weird loops because of this, where a human would look around and see that by simply going back one block there's an easy alternate route back to the preferred path.

10:41 AM, July 11, 2008  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Internal Monologue home