New robot talks to itself to improve communication skills

Researchers from the United States trained a robot to make decisions through an internal monologue. This improved his human interaction skills as well.

The researchers explained that speech plays an important role for devices – it is useful for communication, assessing situations, and making decisions. To find out how speech can influence the actions of a robot, the researchers created a device called Pepper that speaks to itself. They then asked people to set the dinner table with Pepper according to the rules of etiquette to study how Pepper’s communication skills affect human-robot interaction.

Scientists have found that Pepper is better at solving problems by communicating with himself. In one experiment, a user asked Pepper to put the napkin in the wrong place, which is against the rules of etiquette. The robot started asking itself a series of self-guiding questions and came to the conclusion that the person had misjudged the situation. To be sure of the decision, Pepper asked him again and clarified exactly how the person’s request sounds.

By comparing Pepper’s performance with and without speech, the researchers found that the robot had a faster task completion rate when it was self-serving. Through the speech, Pepper surpassed international standards of functional and moral requirements for robots working in a team.

“People were very surprised at the robot’s abilities,” the scientists note. “This approach distinguishes a robot from other machines because it has the ability to reason and think. Internal speech allows you to make alternative decisions, cooperate and get out of difficult situations. ”

The scientists added that the inner voice enriches the interaction between humans and robots, but some researchers may consider it ineffective because the device spends more time on tasks. The robot’s inner speech is also limited by the knowledge that the researchers gave it.

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Alexandr Ivanov earned his Licentiate Engineer in Systems and Computer Engineering from the Free International University of Moldova. Since 2013, Alexandr has been working as a freelance web programmer.
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Alexandr Ivanov

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