Arborealization and the Ping Pong Robot (from Omron)!

OMRON’s ping pong robot is a demonstration

Interesting. OMRON, maker of the blood pressure measuring device that I recommend to patients, is moving into human-augmenting AI. Purely as a demonstration project to showcase technologies, they built a Ping Pong robot that will play with you to:

  1. Rally with you
  2. Assess your ping pong skill
  3. Assess your emotion from facial recognition
  4. Use the “net” as a screen to tell you what it is thinking and doing
  5. Coach you to be a better player, using what it knows about you

From the video, it is not infallible, but it will rally with you, it will serve the ball, it will give you a ranking, it will speed up or slow down based on how you are doing and feeling, it will note that ‘we are having fun!”

Part of the idea of “arborealization” of technology (a made-up word), this is a term I heard about a decade ago. In short, with technology acceleration powered by Moore’s law and the constant doubling of computing power, tech acceleration is NOT in just a single direction (eg: self-driving cars, faster personal computers), but in ALL directions (eg: ping pong robots, poetry-composing AI, symphony-composing AI, deep-sea diving AI, Google Duplex being able to book an appointment by telephone for you, etc).

Still, weak AI and strong AI are different things. Pointing software at a difficult single problem (Weak AI solution) is very different from building an AI that can tackle ALL problems (Strong AI). I’m reading Life 3.0, a easy-to-read NYT bestseller that is the latest foray into describing the exploding fields of AI and general intelligence.

CMIO’s take? I need one of these robots in my basement ping-pong room. Humans are so disappointing; no one will take me up on my nightly ping-pong challenge.

Author: CT Lin

CMIO, UCHealth (Colorado); Professor, University of Colorado School of Medicine

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