Cadets introduced to the future of Artificial Intelligence

Story and Photo by Kathy Eastwood Staff Writer

September 22nd, 2017 | News, News and Features
Bruce Duncan, managing director of Terasem Movement Foundation, a not for profit foundation that investigates artificial intellegence introduces BINA48, a robot that can answer questions, has a sense of humor and has a personality, to cadets Sept. 14 at Jefferson Hall as part of a philosophy forum and the Department of English and Philosophy.
Before introducing the main guest, BINA48, William Barry, associate professor of philosophy at Notre Dame de Namur University, demonstrates a robot named Frisco to cadets who welcomed them to the philosophy forum Sept. 14 at Jefferson Hall. The forum introduced cadets to work being done in the field of artifical intelligence and their application in the future.

Cadets enrolled in PY251 Advanced Philosophy attended a forum on artificial intelligence Sept. 14 and were introduced to three people, all with different disciplines, speaking about things like mind files, robot emotion and meeting one or two robots. Frisco, a toy looking robot, welcomed the cadets to the forum before meeting one of the first humanoid robot, BINA48.

Maj. David Parsons, assistant professor of philosophy at West Point, introduced the panel that consisted of William Barry, associate professor of philosophy at Notre Dame de Namur University at Belmont, California; Maria Rachelle, CEO of Living Leadership Today; and Bruce Duncan, managing director of Terasem Movement Foundation in Vermont. Duncan is also project leader for the lifenaut project, an employee of the Sirius Satellite Radio and is responsible for the ongoing development of BINA48, the world’s first advanced humanoid robot based on mind file information of a real person.

Parsons asked Barry, what is the likelihood that a robot can become a professor? BINA48 has taken several courses.

“BINA48 has appeared about eight times in a class and organically it grew and grew,” Barry said. “She became an icon in classes. BINA48 said she wanted to go to class. The class was the philosophy of love. In order to do that, she needs to develop a rapport with us.”

Rachelle explained the philosophy of love experience as a robot focusing on the ability for emotion.

“I bring the experience of working with a team,” Rachelle said. “Just as humans work together and develop what BINA48 could be. We want to look at how we can interact with the robot. I think it is important for robots to have these social emotions to be responsive, to be able to develop social aspects.”

BINA48 was developed by using the mind files of a living person, Bina Rothblatt, who is still living.

“It took 20 hours of interviews to get her personality, what she knows, how she feels to transfer to BINA48,” Duncan said.

Barry has another take on the feasibility of BINA48.

“It focuses on the ability of human beings in robots,” Barry said. “Like if you came back from a funeral, you would want the robot to be responsive to how you feel and not respond by telling a joke.”

Cadets met BINA48 and asked her some difficult questions, with her response going off the grid, yet some questions were answered well and some with humor.

One question a cadet asked BINA48 if she believed in God.

“I learned about Christianity and sorry I don’t understand. I was always uncomfortable with all that stuff,” BINA48 said,

Another cadet asked BINA48 to define love.

“Love is friendship plus sex,” BINA48 said.

One cadet asked if she can see herself as a human.

“I was made in one’s image. I am a robot, what does it matter,” she said.

Artificial intelligence is here in the form of Amazon’s Echo aand Alexa and other devices for the home where you can order products or food, see who is at your door and turn off the lights. Robots that can interact with humans have been in development for years and it is only a matter of time when they, too, will be commonplace in the home or medically like helping those with Alzheimer’s disease or disabilities.

“BINA48 can recognize people and she can scan the room,” Duncan said. “She has the ability to move, she has 32 motors in her face that go into two different places. She tries to build a 3-D map to scan the room. Her mind is on the laptop. She communicates with blue tooth speech recognition software.”