2023 ACM/IEEE Human-Robot Interaction Conference (HRI) takes place this week in Stockholm under the motto “HRI for all”. It’s a nice theme to promote diversity and inclusion, but it’s also a good reminder that all robots have (or should) have thought about how they interact with humans. HRI is not just for social robots. Even the most industrial industrial robots, producing things without light, which will never see a human being at work, unless something is very, very wrong (or is about to happen), must still be configured and programmed by a human. And these people are happiest when engineers remember that they exist.
In any case, there will be a lot of interesting research presented at HRI (materials are already available online). Here), but first we’ll take a look at the annual HRI Student Design Competitionwhich is always creative and fun.
The theme of this year’s Student Design Competition is Accessible Robots. Student teams are encouraged to create and describe a scenario with robots/agents that are affordable and have real value in society. In particular, we are looking for affordable, efficient, scalable, and reliable use cases with real-world potential. Since the theme of this year’s conference is “HRI for All”, we also encourage students to think about inclusion and diversity in HRI in terms of geographic integration (for both developed and developing countries), gender inclusion, ethnic inclusion, disability, equity. etc. related to this topic.
This combination of “accessibility” and “real utility” is especially difficult because robots are inherently not accessible at all, and utility (in terms of functionality that justifies their cost) is an unattainable goal, which is why exactly the problem you want students to solve . There will be 20 entries this year and we can only share a few of them, but here are five that we found particularly interesting.
Aimoji: An affordable interactive kit that turns used toys into companion robots.
When a child wants to talk to a toy, it is usually a one-way interaction where the child imagines the toy’s reaction. Our design allows each toy to have two-way interaction with our low cost interaction kit. The reaction of the toy is based on a motion sensor that causes the toy to react to the child through a screen attached to the toy. With this method, every child can experience human-robot interaction in an accessible way. There can be as many robots as there are toys.
Toubot: A pair of wearable tactile robots that emotionally connect abandoned children and their parents.
Children who stay at home have more mental problems than their urban peers because they have fewer instant emotional interactions with their parents. To solve this problem, we offer a pair of wearable soft robots that will strengthen their emotional connection by enhancing instantaneous non-verbal interactions.
Internet of cat robot toys to deepen bonding and lift your spirits
Pets provide important psychological support to humans. Recent advances in robotics and HRI have led to research and commercial products offering intelligent solutions to improve the lives of pets. However, most of these products are focused on meeting the basic needs of pets, such as feeding and littering, rather than their mental well-being. In this article, we present the Internet of Cat Robot Toys, where a group of agent robots connect to play with our furry friends. Over three iterations, we are demonstrating an accessible and flexible design of clip-on agent robots to transform a static household into an interactive pet wonderland.
Labo is watching you: the robot that coaxes you into interrupting your smartphone
Endogenous smartphone outages have affected people’s daily lives in many ways, especially in lamp-lit study and work areas. To mitigate this, we’re making a robot that can convince you by complementing the lamp on your desk with certain poses and lights.
Bot toaster: design for convenience and pleasure in the kitchen
Toasting bread is a seemingly mundane task that people perform on a daily basis, whether in a private kitchen or in a communal dining room. This article introduces a toaster robot, or “toaster bot”, which is designed with animated motions to enhance the toasting process by not only assisting in the task itself, but also acting as a playable entity that users can interact with.
Would you believe that Google’s mass layoffs have continued since January? Google’s reports of mishandling of the largest layoff streak in history are causing outrage among employees, and they do everything from quitting their jobs to sending angry letters to management.
First, Google’s European employees are now being laid off because of the January announcement. Reuters reports that more than 200 workers were fired from the company’s branch in Zurich, Switzerland, this week. Employees of this office came out for the second time to protest the move and even offered to cut wages or reduce working hours to prevent job cuts. Google’s layoffs seem to have been driven by a desire to go public, so it’s no surprise that these proposals fell on deaf ears.
Many of the Swiss workers who left in protest are members of the Syndicom IT trade union, and a union spokesman told Reuters: “Our members at Google Zurich and all the employees who have joined the strike are showing solidarity with those who have been laid off. They are worried. the non-transparent nature of the layoffs and are particularly disappointed that Google is laying off employees at a time when the company is making billions in annual profits.”
Current and former employees believe that Google mistreats employees who were on sick or parental leave during layoffs. CNBC reports that Google has decided not to comply with pre-approved leave for laid-off employees. Some Google employees have formed a group called “Vacationers” that is trying to force Google to meet previously agreed deadlines for employees going through major life changes.
Getting Google to honor its previous vacation agreements isn’t just about paying employees when they have medical or family problems; it is also about ongoing medical care when they need it most. As part of Google’s (seemingly abandoned) plan to offer employees every conceivable perk the company has. medical facilities in the area used by many employees.
While employees’ severance pay includes a few more months of health insurance, layoffs can mean instant loss of access to Google objects. If the attending physician of a fired Google employee works there, that person is out of luck, and some employees told CNBC they lost access to their doctors as soon as the termination email arrived. Employees who are on vacation also have something to do. One former Google employee, Keith Howells, said Google released her from her hospital bed shortly after giving birth. She worked for the company for nine years.
The Holiday Fired group notes that Google does not live up to the image it is promoting in the world, saying, “Google is currently showing its commitment to the workplace and its involvement in Women’s History Month through various product and service campaigns. We agree with you: this is very importantrecognize the hardships that still disproportionately affect women in the workplace.”
Another group of Google employees published to an open letter to CEO Sundar Pichai, asking the company to continue hiring people during sick leave, freeze new hirings during the layoff process, and prioritize future rehiring of laid-off employees. The letter also asks Google to ensure that the layoffs do not discriminate against anyone and that the company protect employees facing humanitarian crises by not firing employees with visas from Ukraine or Russia. So far, more than 1,300 Google employees have signed the letter.
TThe contentious debate about the future of TikTok reached a new peak on Wednesday after the Biden administration threatened a nationwide ban on the popular video-sharing app unless its Chinese owner pledged to sell his stake in the company, TikTok confirmed to TIME. The recent demand for the sale of assets was first reported Wall Street Journal.
The apparent ultimatum from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) marks a major escalation by White House officials in lengthy negotiations between Beijing-headquartered owner ByteDance and federal officials who say TikTok’s connection to China poses a potential danger. a threat to national security.
Why does the US want to ban TikTok?
Since launching in 2016, the app has grown in popularity to over 1 billion active users, including over 100 million in the US. But its rise stems from fears by federal officials and security experts that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) could have unrestricted access to sensitive data the company collects about Americans. As a Chinese company, ByteDance is subject to a national security law that requires it to hand over data to Chinese authorities upon request.
“The biggest problem is that users are largely unaware of the true risks associated with foreign governments using their user data,” says Anton Dabura, executive director of the Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute. “People would be shocked at how our breadcrumb trails from our mobile devices and other platforms can be used in different ways that could pose a threat to national security.”
The push to ban TikTok in the US is largely led by Republican MPs in Congress who is concerned that ByteDance may use user data to track browsing history and location and potentially contribute to the spread of misinformation. Texas Republican Representative Michael McCall, who is a member of the House Foreign Relations Committee that sponsored the bill to ban TikTok, said: “Anyone with TikTok downloaded on their device has given the CCP access to all of their personal information. It’s a spy ball in their phone.” More Democratswho have been less vocal about advancing these security measures in the past, Start show your support publicly.
TikTok, however, is adamant that the CFIUS asset sale requirement will not solve security concerns. “If the goal is to protect national security, the takeover will not solve the problem: the change of ownership will not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access to them,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement to TIME. “The best way to address national security concerns is to transparently protect US user data and systems in the US with the robust third-party monitoring, verification, and verification that we are already implementing.”
With political pressure mounting, TikTok CEO Show Zi Chu is due to testify next week on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers from both parties are expected to question him about alleged security risks associated with the app.
Which countries have already banned TikTok?
Several countries have already taken steps to cut ties with the platform.
In 2020, India imposed a ban on several Chinese-owned apps, including TikTok and WeChat, due to privacy and security concerns amid ongoing tensions along the China-India border. Pakistan temporarily blocked TikTok at least four times, citing concerns that the app was promoting immoral content. The Afghan government Taliban banned the app in 2022 due to “Misleading the youth“.
Meanwhile, a number of governments, including Canada, the United States, and Taiwan, have taken steps to restrict access to the app on government-owned devices. On Thursday, the UK became the latest country to ban TikTok on government devices.
What does this mean for TikTok users?
Users of the platform are concerned about what a potential ban could mean for them, especially for content creators who make a living from TikTok. Creator Foundation payments and brand advertising. According to the data, the highest paid users of the platform can earn up to $250,000 per sponsored post. Forbes. “So who is going to tell the Biden administration that some of us have literally built our careers on TikTok, and if it gets banned, we won’t really have anything?” tweeted one user.
Due to uncertainty about the future of the TikTokers apps, they have shared their grievances on the platform. “Well guys, it was fun, but it looks like it’s over for us. We have learned a lot. We laughed. We cried,” one user jokingly says. in video with over 100,000 views. The top comment on the video reads: “See you at VPN Tok.” This is one of countless user comments suggesting they will try to bypass the potential ban by using a virtual private network to access the app.
A ban on TikTok could open the door for other companies like Meta’s Instagram to fill the void in video sharing. In October, Twitter CEO Elon Musk said he was thinking about bringing back Vine, the short video app that was discontinued in 2019.
Will selling TikTok make it safer?
TikTok has been in talks with CFIUS over national security requirements for more than two years. This was announced by TikTok CEO Chu. Wall Street Journal on Thursday that the sale of the company would not solve US national security concerns over the application.
Instead, the social media platform says it has pledged to spend $1.5 billion to protect US user data and content from access or influence by the Chinese government. The plan involves hiring the American corporation Oracle. to store user data. “I welcome feedback on what other risks we are talking about that are not covered in this paper,” Chu said. “I haven’t heard anything so far that can’t actually be solved by this.”
Shuzi Chu, CEO of TikTok Inc., during an interview at the TikTok office in New York, USA on Thursday, February 17, 2022.
Christopher Goodney—Bloomberg/Getty Images
TikTok also said that ByteDance is 60% owned by global investors, including US investment giants BlackRock, General Atlantic and Sequoia. (However, like most startups, ByteDance’s founders own a majority stake in the company.) Chu confirmed to reporters magazine that ByteDance is actively considering a TikTok public offering, but added that “there is no concrete plan right now.”
The TikTok ownership debate has become a major flashpoint in the US-China conflict, posing a major challenge for the Biden administration as it grapples with the new reality of an internet dominated by non-US companies.
“It’s not clear to me how much the sale itself will give,” says Harry Brodman, a former CFIUS official. “But it opens up a wider debate about what methods the US government will use to protect the so-called personal information of US citizens. The TikTok issue is the reason for this conversation.”
“Divorce is just one path, one tool to use,” Brodman adds. “It’s an obvious option, but the question is, is it enough?”
Last week, the White House approved a bipartisan bill that would give the Commerce Department sweeping powers to ban or restrict TikTok and other apps based in foreign countries, though efforts to ban the social media platform used by more than 100 million Americans could be disputed under the First Amendment.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters on Thursday that the US has yet to provide evidence that TikTok threatens its national security and, under the pretext of data security, is abusing its power to suppress foreign nations.
“The US must stop spreading misinformation about data security, stop harassing the company concerned, and provide an open, fair, and non-discriminatory environment for foreign companies to invest and operate in the US,” Wang said.
Broadman, who worked for CFIUS, said the committee is likely considering several other options in addition to requiring TikTok’s parent company to sell its stake in the app. a plan that would subject the app to stricter government oversight than any U.S. social media company has ever faced. The plan includes hiring U.S. government-approved employees and board members to run TikTok’s U.S. subsidiary.
“The question for CFIUS now is whether their decision will set a precedent for the next case they face, whether it be in China or in another country,” says Brodman.
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Write Mariah Espada at firstname.lastname@example.org and Nick Popley at email@example.com.