“Socially interactive” robots are being developed that can interact naturally with people, such as turning toward a person to give the impression of paying attention. The goal is to have such machines perform assistive tasks from hugging to encouraging stroke victims to perform important exercises or children with autism to imitate behavior. Researchers designing what such robots will look like also have to avoid the “uncanny valley” — a phrase based on the idea that people are most comfortable with robots that look either completely human, or identifiably not human.
Also in today’s links: blaming quants, mapping science, imaging religion, and more.
- “Quants” who tried to make mathematical sense of the madness of Wall Street have taken some of the blame for the current economic
crisis. But these former scientists who went on to do quantitative finance say they have been the first ones to acknowledge the limitations of their models.
- Researchers have mapped out the chain of connections created as readers click through online scientific journals. The creators say this map gives a better view of science than other indicators, such as citations, although not everyone in the field agrees.
- Despite all the advertising out there for cell phone deals, one survey of consumers in San Diego found that the average price paid was $3.02 per minute in one analysis.
- A brain imaging study shows how people respond to statements about religion, including the finding that people respond to statements about God as if he were any other person. The researcher also found indications that religious belief evolved along with the ability to process complex information.