Watson Nao is a self-learning "concierge robot" powered by IBM's question-answering computer system of the same name. During Nvidia's GTU technology conference, we were shown a demo of Nao in action from IBM Watson's chief technology officer Rob High. According to Hugh, one of the keys to endearing artificially intelligent robots to humans will be their ability to sing and dance authentically. We'll let you be the judge...
Nao is a multilingual humanoid robot that gets its smarts from IBM Watson; a sophisticated deep learning AI program that famously won the TV quiz show Jeopardy against two former champions in 2011. Watson/Nao robots are currently being trialed at Hilton hotels as a sort of miniature concierge. Guests can ask Nao a range of questions and the robot will process the query before phrasing an appropriate response.
The chief difference between this and other automated assistants is that you're free to phrase questions however you wish. Watson's speech recognition software is sophisticated enough to comprehend questions posed in natural, everyday language. This allows Watson-powered Nao robots to carry out believable conversations, albeit while adhering to the question/answer format.
In the video below, a Watson Nao robot demonstrates its conversational skills and ability to smoothly gesticulate. Then things get annoyingly weird. Prompted to sing, the pint-sized diva belts out a few lines of Taylor Swift's Shake It, complete with theatrical head tilts and sweeping arm gestures.
If you think that sounds bad, brace yourself: it gets much, much worse. Watch the video if you dare:
So what do you reckon? Adorably cute or a risible abomination that needs to be killed with fire? Share your views in the comments. Gizmodo travelled to GTC 2015 in San Jose, California as a guest of Nvidia.