Confession time: small children terrify me. I can’t see the cuteness that so many other people apparently do. All I see is an overly happy bundle of fear with piercing eyes that stare deep into my soul. With that being said, I guess it was only a matter of time before scientists made a robot child that’s far more terrifying than any live child.
Researchers at the Machine Perception Lab have created Diego-san, a robot that’s meant to mimic a one-year-old child. The face itself is already creepy enough, but it enters an entirely new realm of fear once it starts to move:
If you’re not completely paralyzed by fear at what you just saw, you might be interesting in the actual scientific implications of this particular robot. Here’s what the creator of the face, David Hanson, has to say:
“DIEGO-SAN”, by Hanson for the Machine Perception Lab at the UCSD Institute for Neural Computation. With a face by David Hanson and Hanson Robotics, which mounts on a body by Kokoro, this robotic baby boy was built with funding from the National Science Foundation and serves cognitive A.I. and human-robot interaction research. With high definition cameras in the eyes, Diego San sees people, gestures, expressions, and uses A.I. modeled on human babies, to learn from people, the way that a baby hypothetically would. The facial expressions are important to establish a relationship, and communicate intuitively to people. As much a work of art as technology and science, this represents a step forward in the development of emotionally relevant robotics, building on previous work of David Hanson with the Machine Perception Lab such as the emotionally responsive Einstein shown at TED in 2009.
As mentioned in the above description, here’s Hanson’s original nightmare machine – a frighteningly real robotic bust of Einstein: