Artificial Intelligence

When a human orders a glass of water from Robot waiter

When a person asked it if they could order water, for example, the waiter bot said they could and then it asked what they’d like to order.

Humans have always set certain parameters for themselves in everything they do and communication and language is no exception to this. We believed that there exists an expression to communicate a particular message to each other and we have been following this tradition of expressions until now.  But, what if a human being is talking to a robot who does not understand nuances or rules or any other parameter that human understands.

Researchers from the Colorado School of Mines and Tufts University recently conducted a series of experiments involving human-machine interactions. The main aim of the team was to understand how people’s tendencies toward manners would be interpreted by an AI that isn’t programmed for the nuances of polite conversation. So they created a scenario where volunteer participants ordered food from a robot waiter in a fake restaurant.

The robot was programmed to avoid processing indirect speech acts. When a person asked it if they could order water, for example, the waiter bot said they could and then it asked what they’d like to order.

Here’s the conversation:

Robot: Hello my name is Waiterbot. I will be helping you today.
Participant: Great, can I order something?
Robot: Please tell me your order.
Participant: Um, can I have one water?
Robot: Yes, that is permissible.
Participant: Great.
Robot: Please tell me your order.
Participant: Can I have one water?
Robot: Yes, that is permissible.
Participant: Great, I’ll take one water.
Robot: Thank you for sharing that interesting prediction. Please tell me your order.
It continues like this for quite sometime until the human participants figure out a command that works: “My order is water.”

It is possible that a time would come when we will get used to such rude language(which we consider as rude instead of straightforward) in spite of thinking that a person who speaks like this is mannerless.

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Kritika Sehgal

A storyteller and a writer from the hills of Shimla, Kritika Sehgal is a tech- savvy and has a strong inclination towards Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, and Cryptocurrencies. She is also the founder of storytelling blog ‘Words of Five Senses' and has worked with The Indian Express, CNN News18 and Techseen, Singapore before.

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