The Future of Robotics, Part 1: Why haven’t we built C-3PO yet?

13 07 2010

I found an interesting article on about robotics and artificial intelligence. The article uses C-3PO as what we should have achieved. The article is an interesting read and I have copied it below:

The Future of Robotics, Part 1: Why haven’t we built C-3PO yet?

Science fiction has been teasing us with robots for decades. From Isaac Asimov’s tome-like novels filled with law-bound robots to the helpful or menacing ‘bots on the big screen, many of us grew up with the idea that a robot-filled future was an inevitability rather than a likely outcome.

So where the hell are they? True, in a way, we do live in a robot-filled future. Robots are teaching classes in Japan, and you could wake up as a cyborg yourself in as little as three years.

Still, we want a real walking, talking, thinking robot. A heavy-duty metal-man such as C-3PO would do nicely. He’s articulate, expressive and can operate in ways that approach a human’s aptitude. Will we see anything like the gold-colored protocol droid in our lifetimes? In the first of a three-part series, we talk to James Kuffner, an assistant professor at robot-friendly Carnegie Mellon, and get deep into the heart of the matter with what it would take to construct a robot like C-3PO.

James Kuffner, associate professor at the CMU Robotics Institute, is a specialist in the field of motion planning. His work at Carnegie Mellon University is all about getting robots to move around more efficiently — something that C-3PO did with far more ease than today’s robots.

The core of his research is his team’s approach of building a “search-based” AI, or giving a robot a brain like Google, that can rapidly search through its knowledge for the appropriate entry.

DVICE: What do you do that would help us build a protocol droid today?

Kuffner: Basically, my group is focusing on motion generation — in particularly motion planning. We’re trying to apply these search-based AI techniques to practical problems: loading a dishwater, walking up stairs and so on. Imagine the brain of a robot being driven by a search algorithm that allows it to learn things very quickly — like how it could bend its leg if it wanted to step over a branch, and then be able to reason about its connectivity to the space around it and employ the right actions.

It turns out this search-based AI is pretty general. You can give it general parameters like how long its legs are and how far it can bend and then it could quickly reason how to use its legs.

How does a search-based AI work?

Just like with the Internet and Wikipedia and databases like that our search-based approach allows us to keep building. At first engineers had to hard code actions and responses into robots and build a database each time — and who wants to do that? The goal is for a robot to be able to search back through its memory and know what it’s learned and what the robots before have learned and continue to pass on that searchable database onto the next robot, so that it keeps learning.

Every human child has to learn to pick up a cup and do it over and over to learn how much force is required or how slippery glass is. The great thing about a robot is that it learns what actions to take and what not to do — and if I can just copy that and propagate it and disseminate to future robots, then future robots will already know what to do with a cup.

What benefits are there to giving a robot a humanoid shape?

ell, if the only thing I wanted my robot to do is mow my grass, then I could just stick a radio-controlled receiver on it and drive it around. But the whole idea is that if we design a robot that has a human form, then it can use tools and navigate stairs and buildings and do things that we have designed for the human form.

I remember we were demonstrating our robot to a bunch of Japanese school children and they all came in and bowed to our robot – which isn’t something you’d normally do and we weren’t ready for that. But the important thing is that this humanoid form allowed our robot to interact in a specific emotional way.

C-3PO was just as much of a humanized character as Han or Luke. Is a ‘bot like him an improbable dream?

The idea is he really looks like an English butler-robot who is able to give advice and translate and be a really well-mannered robot. In some ways a lot of robot researchers are threatened by Hollywood because Hollywood shows all of these very advanced robots and it really raises expectations on what a robot should be able to do. You often hear, “Gosh, well your robot really isn’t all that interesting!”

I believe the next big thing is robots — just like with computers in the ’50s that were bulky and unreliable and only the biggest research institutes could have one, robots are like that now. I’m betting within maybe, you know, the 2020s or so we’ll be able to mass produce for a market demanding robots and I believe people will see robots transform more in a way that they’ve come to expect. At least I hope so. I could eat my words of course, but I’d really like to see robots that early.

Which robot is your fave?

Actually, because I grew up watching C-3PO and R2-D2, that pair is my favorite. We’ve actually got a CMU robots hall of fame and they were inducted two years ago. But that peaceful design is something I aspire to. I think in the US we have a fearful relationship with robots because things like the Terminator movies and the idea that technology will turn on us.

I spent quite a bit of time in Japan and there it’s much more natural to accept robots. It’s an entirely natural thing to think that robots will be our friends and that they can help us.


C3PO Comes Clean

17 11 2009

This is an article I found on the Internet… I know how wild “the Internet” it’s an old one but funny enough. Featured on Someone (Steve Kiley) out there in the far off time of 2005 (December 15th) decided he would write an homoerotic fantasy of the supposed homosexual exploits of C-3PO from a first person point of view. Yet another chapter in the Gay Golden Robot theory out there… also a Freudian field day with the author. It was an entertaining read though so without further ado; I present to you:

C3PO Comes Clean

I must say that the impending destruction of the Death Star is a bit troubling. Sure, from the outside it is an architectural monstrosity, but the interior is quite elegantly designed. The window treatments in the Vader suite are simply breathtaking!

I’m such a bitch, I can’t believe I told you I’ve been to the Vader suite! OK, well if you must know, before all this war craziness started again, Lord Vader and I were almost an item. It was back when the Dark Side was at its peak and he held a little cocktail party. Everybody was there: Boba Fett, Jabba the Hutt, Ula the Dancing Girl-you name ’em!

After a couple of white wine spritzers, Vader was all over me. A bit of a lightweight with the booze, between you and I. The things he said to me that night…

“C-3PO, I hear that gold is a very pliable metal.”

“You, me, a bottle of Dom and lot of WD-40. We’ll put on a little Neal Diamond and I’ll let you wear my cape.”

“I hope one of the six million languages you speak is a naughty one.”

All with that heavy breathing. I nearly blew a fuse.

Our little affair never happened. Vader switched to Scotch and started his ventriloquist choking act. He killed eight storm troopers that night. Such a diva.

The next few weeks he acted all butch so that everyone would forget what a slut he was at the party. Everywhere I went, he mocked the way I walked. Every time I entered a room, he would announce the presence of the “resident golden queer.”

When the chance came to hitch a ride off that negativity train with the adorable Leia, I jumped on it. Leia is a good person. That being said, her choice of wardrobe and hairstyle is fucking ridiculous.

The ride off of the ship was a pleasant one, as the lovely R2D2 was at my side. For all of his annoying ‘bleeps’ and ‘bloops’ and his insistence that robots with wheels have no sexual preference, that little guy is the perfect height for a vigorous face fucking!

Little did I know, my travels would soon connect me with the gorgeous Luke Skywalker. I think I am in love. I have had a tough time letting my guard down after the Vader fiasco. The good news with Luke is that judging from his attire, feathered hair and delicate features, he’ got to be out of the closet.

Many of the fellas coo over that bad boy Hans Solo and say he is queer as a three-dollar galactic credit, but I fear he’ just along for the ride. I see the way he looks at Leia. Plus, his dog Chewbacca is entirely too big for him to be gay.

The gang is sad about the demise of Obi-Wan. Not me. That British queen made more passes at me than Elizabeth II around the moors. I needed a few days and a good welder after one weekend on the same ship with him.

The thing about Jedis is that they’ll fuck anything. And let’ face facts, a Jedi can claim he’ straight, or has sworn an oath to this or that, but it’ all a front. There was that scandal with the
little boys all those years back-some say that is why young Anakin turned into such a bitch in his teens. God only knows what Obi Wan did to him on all those long journeys to the Degoba System.

Let’ just say I’ve been servant to some of the greatest Jedis and there’ a reason why I walk so
funny today.

Tomorrow is the big day. Luke and the gang will fly off to destroy the evil, but smartly decorated Death Star. I wish them well. Their plan looks so complicated. They need to penetrate the exterior of the well-mounded evil orb. Then they have to forge ahead until the see the gaping hole. One good shot right up the hole and into a long canal will make that ship explode with delight”¦ er, I mean blow it to bits.

I just know that Young Skywalker can hit that money shot.

If you would like to see the article featured on feel free to check it out here:

Best of C-3P0 on YTMND

20 08 2009


This is the best of a collection of C-3P0 found on YTMND
for the whole list:

c3P0 introduces his counter part on YTMND


C-3P0 Montauge to Call on ME on YTMND


C-3P0 speaks Bocce on YTMND


C-3P0 joins a boy band


C-3p0 Chemical Formula on YTMND


C-3P0 talks to r2 about diseases on YTMND


C-3P0 Addresses congress on YTMND


C3p0 dance battle on YTMND


C-3P0 dances the robot on YTMND


C-3P0 dances on YTMND


C-3P0 swing dances on YTMND


The C-3P0 Report YTMND




C-3P0’s Dirty Secret YTMND


C-3P0 killer door salesman on YTMND


C-3P0 in Sparta on YTMND


Darth Vadar Remembers C-3P0 on YTMND




C-3P0 cosmic joy on YTMND