January 20, 2010

Hello Diego-San


So. Diego-san. A 130cm tall research android built by UCSD's Machine Perception Lab in conjunction with Kokoro LTD. in order to study infant cognitive and interaction development.

I'm sure you don't need me to tell you how creepocalyptically bad this idea seems. Instead I'll let Diego-san's father [sic], Dr. Javier Movellan, do it for me. From the comments on the Botjunkie post that raised the flag, "Robot Babies Are Always A Mistake":

We need for the robot to be able to communicate with people in a manner not unlike the way human infants communicate with caregivers. The current face design, which we did not intend to be public, is obviously generating very strong negative reactions. We are already working on the second face design. Everybody has strong opinions about why the current version generates such negative reactions: face too large, robot babies are freaky, skin texture is wrong, mixing mechanical body with biological face is scary, giganto-babies are scary ... For just about every theory examples can be given that contradict the theories. The truth is nobody really knows. It is a trial an error process. [emphasis added for the glaringly obvious parts]
One thing we do know, though, is the enabling source for this mortal threat to human civilzation. Surprise, surprise, it's Hello Kitty.

Kokoro is the animatronics, vending machine, and "shop robot" subsidiary of Sanrio. Diego-san was first published in the November 2009 edition of Kokoro News, the monthly tabloid for the latest in uncanny valley/retail entertainment information. But as Dr. Movellan mentioned above, Diego-san's v0.9 face wasn't meant for publication, and sure enough, the UCSD article has been scrubbed without comment from the current online version. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Robot Babies Are Always A Mistake [botjunkie via dt reader and new dad john]
Kokoro News [kokoro-dreams.co.jp]

1 Comment

WTF is right.

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