Scandinavian MANScandinavian MANScandinavian MAN
Style, innovation & equality
Presented by Samsung Connected Living

Robot learning with Danica Kragić Jensfelt

We asked three leading minds within fashion, technology, and architecture about the future of living. Meet Danica Kragić Jensfelt, the Professor of Computer Science at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and the member of the Board of Directors of SAAB AB, H&M Group and Institute for Future Studies.

Words Konrad Olsson Photography Morgan Norman

Danica, how will developments in robot science affect our living situation the coming years?

— We commonly talk about robots taking over dirty, dull and dangerous jobs. Repetitive jobs that are boring for humans, and that commonly have a negative impact on the human body. We would also like to see more robots in health applications, serving as physical and cognitive support to humans.

What is the focus of your work at a the moment?

— We have several projects that involve development of methods for intelligent robotics systems. We're working towards using robots that can move about in the environment and that can detect and interact with humans and various types of objects. For example, robots can be used to lift heavy things, they can be used to empty and fill shelves in warehouses, work in collaboration with humans to do things that may be difficult for humans — exerting high forces, making repetitive straight line motions, etc. We also develop methods for tracking human body posture to understand better what and how people do in their daily routines. This can then serve as an inspiration to develop motion models for robots so that they can perform various tasks in a way that is similar to humans.

What innovations do you see coming to the consumer?

— Many of the innovations are coming even without us being aware of them. Any system that is based on some type of measurements can be adapted to an individual and provide better service. For the future, I would actually like to see a fully automated traffic integrated with the smart-city concepts so that every single citizen independent of age or health condition has the access to cheap and safe transport. Health applications, such as constant health monitoring and working preventively can also lower the cost for the whole health system. Insurance companies are already making a lot of their pricing with the help of AI and we will continue to see more of it. Applications in eductaion that provide a better understanding of knowledge level of every individual can thus also be used to provide the more appropriate tutoring. And finally, a robot in every home — but that idea does not come from me. It was already stated by Bill Gates almost a decade ago.

How will developments in AI and robot science affect the fashion industry?

— There are already excellent examples in making warehouses more automated as well as making the logistics processes faster and more accurate. Then, there is a huge possibility in terms of optimising production and avoiding overproduction by predicting what customers may want to wear next season. Working on informing the customer about how and where garments were produced, what the material is, etc, can also help customers to make more sustainable choices. There is also lot of potential when it comes to making the market for used clothes better, do more of and better recycling and reuse of clothes. But for that, we need a customers in the loop. The fashion industry can only come halfway and the customer needs to show that they care: buying less, taking care of the clothes, sharing, remaking, repairing.

How can AI be a force for good when it comes to health and well being?

— To start with, we aim to make systems that are better informed than a single human, relying on appropriate and relevant data. Making sure that there are no biases in data, and that we work preventively when it comes to diseases — predicting what will happen instead of treating it once it happens. If the process can be automated in a suitable manner, it will come to use to a much larger portion of the society.

How close are we to general AI?

— We still have a long way to go in my opinion. AI is already better in tasks that can be explained and modelled in an appropriate manner and where lots of data is available. But general AI requires common sense reasoning and we have only scratched on a surface so far.

Are you worried or hopeful when it comes to AI?

— Always hopeful but we need to continue to make efforts to educate the whole of society about AI, its implications, appropriate use and development of software. Every citizen should make an effort to ensure that the technologies is not only blindly applied and used but that this is done with care. Always reflecting over the outcome and making sure that the technology is used for good purposes.