Can a robot learn to recognize and speak a human language? New outcomes from researchers from the University’s School of Computer Science and printed in PLoS ONE, show it can begin to develop essential language skills through conversation with human beings.
In the same way that an infant chooses up the regularity of sounds in speech, the childlike iCub humanoid robot called DeeChee has acquired some simple word forms. Inspections carried out with DeeChee by Dr Caroline Lyon, Dr Joe Saunders and professor Chrystopher Nehaniv as part of the iTalk project, have revealed how language training might emerge.
Like an infant, DeeChee can only chat and perceives speech as a string of sounds. But after humans talk to DeeChee as if it was a small child, the robot adapts its output to the most generally heard syllables. It “talks” word forms such as the names of simple colors and shapes.
Although DeeChee is learning to create word forms, it does not know their meaning – and education meanings is another part of the iTalk project’s research.
Teaching DeeChee to speak using techniques similar to those used to teach children is an essential part of the training process of the human-robot cooperation which could have a meaningful impact on the future generation of interactive robot systems.
A study that is printed in the science journal PLoS One demonstrates how the robot can read simple words for colors and colors with non-scientist human aides. The aides would spend a few minutes with the robot and cubes with colored sides trying to teach it words as if it were a toddler.
The authors said “Since our work involves the addition of a human language by a robot, we are motivated by the process in humans. Thus the foundation of our experimental work is a real-time interactive situation where human associate speeches to a robot, practicing his or her own casual words”. They added, “Words can appear from babble using a mathematical learning process not particular to language illustrates that this stage of language achievement does not require hard-wired grammar departments.”
DeeChee is related to a child that is among 6 to 14 months old. When the aides would spend time with the iCub robot, it would begin to expand it’s thesaurus from, “random syllabic babble to creating some notable word-forms, the names of simple shapes and colours,” the designers stated in their study.
Whenever the robot was able to recognize a word and repeat it back, the enlistee would appreciate DeeChee with words like, “well done” or “good.” By using reliable support, the robot would save the words within its glossary.
“Learning needs cooperation with a human, and robot representation evokes proper reactions in a human teacher, which incorporeal software does not,” computer scientist and study leader Caroline Lyon said.
The iCub robot still has a long way to go before it acquires any fluent type of language, but researchers say it could be the origin of creating robots.net that can speak casually to us.