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Algorithm Could Help Robots Predict Human Actions

Defense One reports on a new algorithm researchers are developing that “opens the door to software that can guess where a person is headed—reaching for a gun, steering a car into armored gate—milliseconds before the act plays out.”  

“Researchers, Justin Horowitz and James Patton undertook the work under a National Institutes of Health Grant… The idea was to help robots help humans — by taking the steering wheel when a driver makes a bad decision, or perhaps activating an exoskeleton when a patient with a weak arm reaches for an object. But the algorithm, broadly speaking, might also help fly a plane or anticipate the next move by a suicide bomber or gunman.”  

“To test the algorithm, they gave a joystick to five men and three women between the ages of 24 and 30. The subjects were instructed to reach out with the joystick 730 times under various conditions, including ones that obstructed their motion. The tests proved the algorithm’s ability to infer, within tenths of a second, where the subject was headed… What could you use this for? If you’re Russia, which has deployed armed ground robots to monitor missile bases, your security droids just became a lot better at discerning whether or not they should shoot and at what. If the U.S. ever puts armed robots on the ground — something Defense Department is not currently tempted to do because of the danger to friendly forces — the algorithm could make those robots safer and more capable.”

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