Rock, Paper, Robot

Posted at 7:30 AM, Jun 28, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-28 07:30:58-04

(WTVR) - Researchers at the University of Tokyo have developed a robot that cheats at rock-paper-scissors by detecting the gesture you’re about to throw. It’s the automated equivalent of your jerk friend hesitating a moment before committing to their move — except that it happens at superhuman speed.

Designed at Ishikawa Oku Laboratory, the robot utilizes a high speed camera to recognize which shape the human hand is making and within one millisecond chooses the correct gesture to trump it.

So what does the World Rock Paper Scissors Society think of the robot?

Douglas Walker, Managing Director of the World Rock Paper Scissors Society, says he doesn't consider it cheating, saying humans also try to determine what sign an opponent will throw.

"The highest level rock paper scissors players actually do look at people's hands," he said.

The RPS Society did have one criticism of the robot; its vertical paper sign, which is technically bad form.

The correct form being an open palm or open hand, palm facing down.

The same Japanese lab has designed cloth folding, pen spinning, and even egg-catching robots.

Chess used to be king when it came to AI research, but projects like the R-P-S robot point to a different kind of intelligence — a physical kind. We’re used to thinking about intelligence in terms of brains versus brawn, but as it turns out, making machines that can exercise their muscles takes a lot of smarts, too.

CBS 6 Anchor/Reporter Rob Cardwell challenged resident World RPS Society member and Morning Producer Pierce Sharpe to a match. You can watch it here: