Those spiffing fellows at the University of Plymouth, UK are undertaking a research project involving a baby-bot named iCub, which will see the robot actually learn how to speak. The three-foot high robot will help researchers deduce how language is taught, but the further reaching impact of the study include the prospect of developing humanoid robots that can learn, think and talk. Sure, Steven Speilberg has already envisioned such a future, but how far off was he?
Well, we can't really say. The iCub will undergo pretty basic tests, such as shape analysis, nesting different sized cups and stacking wooden blocks, as well as speech development tasks, meaning iCub will be able to name actions it carries out, which will lead to a commentary of its routine. The overall goal was laid out by Angelo Cangelosi, Professor in Artificial Intelligence;
"The outcome of the research will define the scientific and technological requirements for the design of humanoid robots able to develop complex behavioral, thinking and communication skills through individual and social learning."
It may well be a far cry from AI, but the project, which will begin next year, is costing around £4.7 ($10) million and if that kind of cash doesn't lead to robots that can write our articles for us, we shall be really, really pissed. [BBC News]