David Hanson, the roboticist who brought us the creepy cybernetic substitute son Zeno, is now offering an empathetic smiling Einstein bot for our general horrification.
Seriously, the guy is obviously a genius, but everything he makes scares the crap out of me. In this case his Einstein head, debuted in Long Beach, CA at the TED exhibition and covered by Reuters, runs a "machine empathy" program developed by the Institute for Neural Computation at UCSD.
Using two cameras, cleverly hidden within Einstein's big grey eyes, the bot recognises a face then gazes into it, looking for feedback on 13 parameters like an eyebrow raise, a nose wrinkle, and of course a smile.
This is apparently the fourth creepy Einstein that Hanson has cooked up, but the first with this advanced software, and the first with 32 motors to mimic face muscles. Clearly it has the "drunk grandpa" look down, but I still want to see it do "sad puppy" and "I understand the workings of the universe and you don't."
Says Hanson, "This is a robot that can understand feeling and mimic." Here's a couple more of the Dallas-based maverick's machinations:
• Zeno the robot Hanson named after his own son
• Jules, the bald emo man-baby
OK so what comes next, you brilliant weirdo? One thing's for sure, I'd hate to read your dream diary. [Reuters]