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Almost Human|赶超人类

At Aizo Chuo Hospital in Japan, employees greet newcomers, guide patients to and from the surgery area, and print out maps of the hospital for confused visitors. They don’t take lunch breaks or even get paid. Why? They’re robots!
A robot is a machine that can complete complex tasks without human control. The child-sized machines at the hospital are just a few of the thousands of robots that help people around the world.
Robots have long worked in factories, helping to build cars and electronic appliances1. But today’s robots are a far cry2 from the clunky machines of the past. They don’t just do the jobs of people—they actually look and act a lot like people.

Kansei, a robot from Japan, has a silicon face covering 19 movable parts. The robot can form up to 36 facial expressions in response to different words. Kansei quivers3  in fear at the word war and breaks into a smile when it hears the word sushi.
Researchers in Europe are going one step further with iCub, a “baby” robot. They are teaching it to speak and hold conversations.
The ability to interact is crucial4, or necessary, for robots that will one day work closely with humans, says Chris Atkeson, a professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania. “It is important for robots and all machines that interact with people to understand what you say and how you are feeling and respond with appropriate emotions,” he told WR News.
Japanese scientist Minoru Asada agrees. He is building a robot called CB2 that acts like a real toddler5. “Right now, it only goes, ‘Ah, ah.’But as we develop its learning function, we hope it can start saying more complex sentences and moving on its own will,”Asada says. “Next-generation robots need to be able to learn and develop themselves.”

Helping Humans
Robot communication will allow the machines to help people more in the future, as the number of human workers declines in some countries.“We are going to have so many more old people and not enough young people to take care of them,” Matthew Mason, director of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, told WR News.“Technology can help the old people live at home longer, instead of going to nursing homes6.”
That would be a big help in Japan, which has an aging population. Already, more than 370,000 robots work in Japanese factories. Other robots perform tasks such as planting rice and tending the country’s rice paddies7. Japanese officials estimate that one robot can do the work of 10 human employees.
Aizo Chuo Hospital patient Hiroshi Asami, 81, isn’t thrilled8 about the prospect, or possibility, of robot workers.“The robot just told us to get out of the way!” he exclaims9 after almost running into10 one of the hospital’s robot workers.“It’s a robot. It’s the one that should get out of my way. I prefer dealing with real people.”

在日本的Aizo Chuo医院,雇员问候新来者,把患者引领至门诊处或离开那里,为困惑的来访者打印医院的地图。他们没有午间休息,甚至没有报酬。何故?他们是机器人!


机器人的沟通能力使它们能够在将来对人类有更大的帮助,因为在一些国家工作人口的数量在下降。“我们的老年人口将大量增加,而照顾他们的年轻人却不够了,” 卡耐基·梅隆大学的机器人学研究所主任马修·梅森对《读者周刊》新闻栏目说,“科技能帮助老年人在家里生活更长的时间,而不是去养老院。”
Aizo Chuo医院的81岁患者麻美博对机器工人的前景或可能性并不感到兴奋。“机器人只是命令我们走开!”他在差点撞上医院的一个机器工人后惊呼,“那是个机器人。应该走开的是它。我更喜欢与真人打交道。”


1. appliance [?藜?謖plai?藜ns] n. 器具,设备
2. a far cry (from) 遥远的距离
3. quiver [?謖kwiv?藜] v. 颤抖,发抖
4. crucial [?謖kru?蘼?蘩i?藜l] adj. 至关重要的,决定性的
5. toddler [?謖t?蘅dl?藜] n. 学步的小孩
6. nursing home 养老院,疗养院
7. paddy [?謖p?覸di] n. 水稻田
8. thrilled [?夼rild] adj. 兴奋的,激动的
9. exclaim [iks?謖kleim] v. 惊叫,呼喊
10. run into 撞上,遭遇
11. rock [r?蘅k] v. (口语)用于表示强烈赞许
12. rev up 使加速;激发
13. quacky [kw?覸ki] adj. 发出嘎嘎声的
14. paddle [?謖p?覸dl] v. 划水,涉水

15. trumpet [?謖tr?蘧mpit] n. 小号;喇叭
16. slipper [?謖slip?藜] n. 便鞋,拖鞋
17. vacuum [?謖v?覸kju?藜m] n. 真空吸尘器
18. rover [?謖r?藜uv?藜] n. 外星探测器
19. hardware [?謖h?藁?蘼dw?藓?藜] 金属器皿
20. quizzical adj. [?謖kwizikl] 古怪的