Thursday, 30 October 2008

Robots with feeling...

One of the more memorable aspects of visiting the incredible innovative environment which is the MIT Media Lab is always the robots they have on show.  This has been true of all my previous visits and was no different today this time.  

Robots which just do mechanical tasks that humans and then simple machines used to do previously, such as welding pieces of cars together, are already relatively accepted and therefore unimpressive to many people.  Robots that take movement further and are mobile and appear to solve more general problems tend to seem more impressive to more people.  

But robots that can appear to empathise with humans and even exhibit aspects of emotional understanding and expression themselves are more impressive still to almost everyone.  This often has an emotional effect on visitors and people who meet such robots for the first time.  It is most impressive of all when the inventor and constructor who has built the robot feels emotionally affected by the result of his/her work, ... by the appearance, actions and behaviour of the robot.  This is beginning to happen.  It will be very important in the future.

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