Two Spanish researchers from the [MIT](http://www.mit.edu/), Xavier Puig and Antonio Torralba, have carried out a project through which they teach robots everyday tasks. How do they do it? Using the style of * The Sims * to find the best way to teach robots to help us in our routine.
It all started when the researchers wondered how they could teach artificial intelligence to perform common tasks. First, they tried to do it from videos. Although they soon realized that finding images showing step by step how to make a coffee, for example, was quite complicated.
So, they got down to work and began to work on VirtualHome, a simulation environment through which algorithms could learn to perform daily activities. Something as simple as filling a glass of water can be an arduous process for a humanoid: “One difficulty for artificial intelligence when performing household tasks is the fact that these usually include subtasks that we take for granted,” Xavier Puig, one of the creators, explained to the media.
The the main objective of the idea was for a robot to understand how a daily task is carried out and be able to replicate the process automatically. “If we have to explain how to make a coffee, we can say that you have to use milk, but we understand that for that you have to open the refrigerator, take the carton of milk and take it next to the coffee machine; an artificial intelligence system does not have that common sense,” confirmed both researchers.
The process was slow, to launch VirtualHome they needed train virtual agents with more than 3,000 complete descriptions of ordinary activities. All of them directed step by step. That is, they had to introduce in the tool one by one the explanations of how daily tasks are done.
“Each description is like a program that details the steps to follow”
The the result of all this work was a stage formed by a living room, a kitchen, a dining room, a bedroom and an office. Within that space, each and every one of the attendees performed different tasks following the patterns learned.
However, although the advances have been memorable, the creators conclude that there are many steps to take before we can have robots performing activities in our homes. The best use of Artificial Intelligence is the one we make when we are aware not only of its potential, but also of its limitations.
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