Artificial intelligence is everywhere these days.

Programs and devices, thinking and/or speaking.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether you’re talking to a real person or just a simulation of one.

Fortunately, nature has created a being that can sort out the actual from the duplicate.

Yes, researchers at Yale University have been testing whether dogs will take commands from robot voices.

Here’s how it worked: they put robots in a room with dogs and, after some time to get acquainted, had the robot call the dog’s name and tell it to sit.

They did the same thing with voices from speakers, to try to see what all the dog was responding to.

And dogs will, in fact, listen to robots, though under certain circumstances.

The dogs were much more likely to follow commands from a robot that was in the room with it rather than a speaker, though even the most effective robots still got less cooperation from the dogs than actual people.

Robots using visual cues, like pointing, didn’t necessarily make a difference with the dogs, even though dogs do follow such cues from humans.

And those robot dog toys? Dogs don’t really see those as fellow dogs.

So where could this research lead?

Maybe someday we’ll have robots designed for dogs, so when we’re away at work or on vacation, there’s still someone the dog knows and trusts to take it on walks, or play with it.

Or maybe it’s just helping us better understand what dogs respond to, so we can communicate better with them.

Above all, the idea of getting a robot and a dog to talk to each other is just too good to not try.

At this point in 2020 very little surprises me, but this one surprised me: the website Geekologie posted a video of, somehow, a motorized Porta-Potty.

Just going down the street, perfectly normal like.

I just report these things, I can’t always explain them.

Dogs Obey Commands Given by Social Robots (IEEE)

Ridin’ Dirty: Porta-Potty Cruising Down The Street (Geekologie)

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Moxie the dog photo by bullcitydogs via Flickr/Creative Commons