“A computer genius dubbed the “robot whisperer” is teaching her machines to be more human so they can work better alongside us. Madeline Gannon says this includes her one-tonne droids learning to be cheeky, friendly or even bored.”
“You get the sense Gannon is already a step ahead of us when it comes to relating to machines. The notion of robots as living, if not breathing, creatures permeates her vocabulary when she talks about them. She thinks of them as “creatures, not things,” refers to them as having “body language,” and populating different “robot ecologies.” It’s a conscious attempt to reframe them as more lifelike.”
“Anyone who’s been up close and personal with an industrial robot will tell you that these machines have an uncanny, almost unsettling presence. Rationally you know that they’re programmed automatons, but when they start moving — huge metal arms swishing through the air with inhuman precision and speed — some primeval part of your brain lights up like a switchboard and calls start pouring in.
“Danger, danger!” they say. “You need to get the fuck away from this predator now.”
Madeline Gannon is someone who delights in this discrepancy. She’s an artist, coder, and designer who, for the past few years, has been exploring how humans relate to robots; programming machines that react to our presence and that use mechanical body language of their own to communicate back. In that fecund little valley that divides our rational and and instinctive reactions to machines, Gannon’s work thrives.”
“In this segment, taped live at the Carnegie Library of Homestead Music Hall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Ira talks to two roboticists. Madeline Gannon, a Carnegie Mellon research fellow, artist, and roboticist for NVIDIA, trains industrial robots to use body language to communicate, while Henny Admoni, psychologist and assistant professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, teaches assistive technology to anticipate the needs of its users. Both talk about the relationship between humans and robots, its future, and what it will take for that future to be bright.“
"They call her the robot whisperer. Working out of her studio Aton Aton, a research studio at the cutting edge of the robot human interface. It’s a place most people don’t feel so comfortable with, especially if you’ve seen the beta robots emerging out of the studios of companies like Boston Dynamics, running at dizzying speeds, jumping over walls and terrifying the beejezus out of people. However Gannon wants us to understand there is a much softer side to these automated machines."
"Broadly speaking, the goals of robotics and artificial intelligence research is to design robots that become more independent and intelligent thinkers, while equally more agile and mobile. With the new installation Mimus, artist and robotics researcher Madeline Gannon trained a common industrial robot to not only exhibit no pre-planned movements, but also get “bored” while roaming freely around its enclosure."
"Playing on the fear that robots will steal our jobs – five million of them in the next five years, according to the World Economic Forum – Pittsburgh-based designer Madeline Gannon has reprogrammed this 1,200kg lump of steel to make it seem curious about the world around it. 'I wanted to show that robots could be a companion species,' she says. 'We might overcome our anxiety by establishing a bond with the machines.' Its behaviour is eerily lifelike. Just as you think you’ve struck up a bond, it gets bored and moves on to someone else."
"Nearby is the robot installed and programmed by Madeline Gannon. With its pivoting, articulated arm whirring and buzzing, it responds to visitors, sizing them up, coming close, dancing around with puppyish enthusiasm and then retreating back on itself and going to sleep. It is unsettling and intriguing, seemingly alive in its actions yet utterly mechanistic, an example of how we anthropomorphise even a technology that will cause mass unemployment."
"Madeline Gannon has a taught gigantic, dangerous robots to follow her round like a puppy."
"This definitely isn't terrifying at all."