Ever tried conversing with a robot on the other end of a telephone customer service line? Now try adding a slight delay due to indeterminism and prepare for a frustrating interruption followed by a back and forth between incorrect options, cheerfully pursued by the robot.
Our recently-launched project CoCOMaps aims to make robots better at processing the information needed to for better social skills and ultimately make them smarter and more pleasant to interact with.
The perception of intelligence in a machine is linked to how ‘human’ its behavior seems. But by that measurement computers are frankly still quite dumb. Providing the ability for a robot or a computer to respond (in soft-real-time) to interruptions, or to partially understand the topic of a dialogue and ask for more targeted clarification, will make the system more useful – and certainly much more pleasant to interact with.
CoCoMaps proposes to build a strong foundation for robots to acquire sufficient dialogue skills to be competent participants in human-robot dialogue without annoying protocols or unexpected breakdowns – breakdowns that might find an interesting place in a sci-fi novel but are all but welcome when you’re trying to get a job done.