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A Robot That Kills
March 17, 2011 7:23 AM   Subscribe

Heather Knight is currently conducting her doctoral research at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute and running Marilyn Monrobot Labs in NYC, which creates socially intelligent robot performances and sensor-based electronic art. One of Heather's robots, Data, is an aspiring stand-up comic. He also has a twitter page. Heather and Data were recently featured on Marc Maron's WTF podcast. In addition to working on her robots, Heather also collaborated on the OK GO Rube Goldberg video.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates (17 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not the most impressive demo I've ever seen. The robot (which was the impressive bit) is off-the-shelf, and I have no idea what kind of adjustments it was making to its delivery of canned jokes.
posted by Nahum Tate at 7:37 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I agree. I was ready for something pretty great but it didn't even pause to let the laughter die. How well can it be monitoring ambient sound levels?
posted by DU at 7:42 AM on March 17, 2011


I feel like a nice cool glass of Rolex. Does anyone else feel like a having some Rolex?
posted by odinsdream at 7:43 AM on March 17, 2011


The original Marilyn Monrobot
posted by jammy at 7:45 AM on March 17, 2011


Looking at the paper, it appears that the "jokes" are stored text/body movements in the robot, and are selected by a Support Vector Machine based on the inputs of crowd volume and visual feedback (limited, audience must raise red/green paddles) on a separate computer. The model works on a joke at a time, she talks about going to Markov model as a next step.

This is somewhat interesting, but it seems like 5 pounds of substance in a 10 pound package. If as DU said, it was listening to ambient levels to time jokes, and trying to time when to speak in a conversation/crowd, that would be a neat trick. The cutesy twitter feed doesn't help.

Personal bias, I've been somewhat disappointed in the humanoid robotics field. They always seem to be trying to be slightly better versions of Animatronic Presidents of the United States. I'll take self driving cars any day.
posted by zabuni at 7:48 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of Heather's robots, Data, is an aspiring stand-up comic.

Did anyone else read that and envision a Neil Hamburgerbot horking up oil?
posted by fleetmouse at 8:00 AM on March 17, 2011


Man, that robot was still 100 times funnier than the ventriloquist on WTF.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:00 AM on March 17, 2011


Man, that robot was still 100 times funnier than the ventriloquist on WTF.

Yeah. That guy made me extremely sad. I didn't even understand why Maron was laughing. Everybody else was silent, or chuckling nervously. Awk. Ward.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:13 AM on March 17, 2011


Sorry, but this is Media Lab level of fluffy vacuousness. Who doesn't get a TED talk these days? I mean, Tony Robbins? Seriously?

There should really be some sort of collection of not-even-wrong TED talks, a la Regretsy

retarTED?
posted by leotrotsky at 8:17 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, that robot was still 100 times funnier than the ventriloquist on WTF.

The robot and the ventriloquist just kind of added up to an overflowing, sad suck bowl of the type you rarely hear on WTF.

And yeah, it was weird the way you could hear Maron busting a gut at the ventriloquist.
posted by COBRA! at 8:46 AM on March 17, 2011


I thought Heather rather appealing.
posted by bz at 9:53 AM on March 17, 2011


can't help but note her engineering & computational achievements were only good enough for TEDWomen, not TED.
*sigh*
posted by liza at 11:43 AM on March 17, 2011


I was at the live WTF show and I walked out an Otto and George fan. He does a sad sack character, but it wasn't awkward.
Most of the people in the room were laughing and enjoying his set. He comes off like a mope, but it's a professional mope.
Heather held her own but the robot is kind of ridiculous. I'm not sure if there's more to it, but it reads like a woman controlling a toy via laptop with a text to speech app.
posted by BillBishop at 12:27 PM on March 17, 2011


can't help but note her engineering & computational achievements were only good enough for TEDWomen, not TED.
*sigh*


Is there any reason to consider TEDWoman a lower-tier of TED? Couldn't it be woman-only *and* at the same quality level?
posted by rocket88 at 2:09 PM on March 17, 2011


Yeah. That guy made me extremely sad. I didn't even understand why Maron was laughing. Everybody else was silent, or chuckling nervously. Awk. Ward.

I love knowing that other MeFites were not only present, but present and being like "WhyTF is Maron laughing?!" I also found Otto and George off-putting, sad and schticky. I sort of read Maron's laughter as a quasi-nervous laugh that was sort of saying, "well, this is awkward and unfortunate because this act is totally wrong for this crowd and now I'm a little uncomfortable, too." Not sure if I am rationalizing or what.
posted by Rudy Gerner at 2:32 PM on March 17, 2011


Couldn't it be woman-only *and* at the same quality level?

Theoretically. But in practice only if TED were male-only.
posted by Justinian at 3:08 PM on March 17, 2011


There should really be some sort of collection of not-even-wrong TED talks, a la Regretsy

Well, for an alternative, there's always BIL.
posted by arm's-length at 9:22 PM on March 18, 2011


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