Nadine can already work as a secretary, administrator or receive calls in a call center. Now she works in the insurance company AIA Group support desk.
According to the design engineer, Nadine is a fully autonomous robot. She learns every time she meets a new person: she remembers what he says, builds his user portrait, adapts to his character and interests. Nadine has already seen thousands of people; she stores and analyzes information about each person and learns about users with whom she has communicated before.
“Androids, first of all, are an effective interface for computers,” explains the need for such a robot, Nadia Thalmann. - When a user works on a laptop, he has to do most of the work himself. And robots take the burden of communication on themselves; the person communicates with the physical realization of the program as he is used to communicate with other people."
Nadine has two built-in devices that allow her to communicate with people: a microphone and camera. When a person speaks into the microphone, the signals are translated into text. The text is then analyzed using natural language processing, and Nadine understands the information that they want to share with her.
Then Nadine turns to her memory module. If she recognizes a familiar voice, she searches for a person in the database and analyzes what this person told her earlier, when and in what mood he was then. Based on the user's portrait, she understands what topics to discuss, and generates new sentences.
With the help of cameras, Nadine recognizes faces, gestures, objects around her, and so on. The robot sees the person's mimicry and understands what mood he is in. This information is sent to the “emotional” module, and Nadine understands how to communicate with the user.
For example, if a user is crying, Nadine will not joke or have fun talking, but try to console him.
According to Nadia Thalmann, the robot Nadine can perform social functions and help older people. Androids will be able to replace part of the usual carers in nursing homes.
“I think social robots are most important for seniors,” she says. - Of course, we strive to be surrounded by living people — but this is not always possible. The population is aging very quickly, and in Singapore couples usually have only one child. Young people can take care of their parents financially, but they are not ready and do not have to sit with old men for days. If an elderly person has Alzheimer's disease, any nurse will go crazy when he asks the same question for the twentieth time. It seems the only possible solution is a social robot that is available 24/7. Nadine cannot get angry or tired, she reads the story of the patient, reassure him and put to bed ".
According to Nadia Thalmann evaluation, the cost of such a robot could be 10 thousand US dollars. The mass production is planned to be adjusted only in 10-20 years. In the meantime, a copy of Nadine is being built in the laboratory of the National Institute of Technology in Singapore.
“I think that over time, the production cost will decrease, and such robots will appear in every home, - Ms. Thalmann said. - People will use androids instead of laptops, smartphones and other equipment.”
According to the Nadine inventor, only very routine professions will pass to robots.
“For example, today I had to go through the reception desk to get to the office. One of the women was rude with visitors and without greeting she demanded passports from them. I looked at her and thought: “I wish Nadine was in her place.”
Also, according to Nadia Thalmann, there is now an acute shortage of data science specialists, not only analysts, but also people who could digitize or mark data.
“This is important not only in technical areas,” she explains. - For example, the human sciences work with cultural heritage, and most of the sources are not digitized. Everything is done manually; the researchers still turn to huge paper archives.”
The inventor believes that dozens of new professions will appear in the process of robotization in the future. The problem is that so far people do not have necessary skills or education. Robotization will not lead to the fact that people will not be needed anymore, but people will have to quickly adjust.
Also, according to the Nadine inventor, it is necessary to introduce more rules into androids in future, for example, keep user data safe. “There is an act on data protection in Europe, I think it should be used in all robots,” she said. - But androids are more than just robots, they work with human emotions. If an android is designed to work with older people, it should be programmed to respond softly to people's actions: do not snap or argue."
“My mother lives in a nursing home,” says Nadia Thalmann. “In the morning, the residents are given medicines, and then left to their own device till noon. The nurses turn on the TV, and the old people simply lie without doing anything. Mom sometimes asks: “Why don’t you give Nadine to me? I would have someone to talk to." Nadine could stay with her while a nurse is out. I would like to help older people who are left alone. Having only a social robot around someone is not a complete solution, but it is better than be alone."
In the photo: Nadia Thalmann and the robot Nadine.