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He's a big boy now
April 6, 2009 7:09 AM   Subscribe

A bald, child-like creature dangles its legs from a chair as its shoulders rise and fall with rythmic breathing and its black eyes follow movements across the room. It's not human -- but it is paying attention. (via)
posted by Vamier (78 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh God, no!
posted by IvoShandor at 7:11 AM on April 6, 2009


God damn it, Japan!
posted by Caduceus at 7:13 AM on April 6, 2009 [8 favorites]


This is exactly the kind of thing that gives the Japanese Society of Baby Science a bad rap.
posted by hermitosis at 7:14 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


The time has come to serve your new masters. :D
posted by Vamier at 7:14 AM on April 6, 2009


Life is becoming more like an Aphex Twin video every day.
posted by ardgedee at 7:17 AM on April 6, 2009 [13 favorites]


That picture is so scary that I can't read the article.
posted by oddman at 7:17 AM on April 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


I immediately began wishing for a large rock with which I could crush the subject's unnatural, bulgy skull.
posted by adipocere at 7:19 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll say this for the robot child, that's a damn good impression of me on a monday morning.
posted by doobiedoo at 7:19 AM on April 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


Me, I'm more interested in the idea that it "learns" and less interested in the fact that it has (EW) a face. But then I'm a big nerd.

Still, it's been clear for a while that the right way to make a computer imitate anything humans do involves machine learning rather than a whole lot of explicitly programmed rules. It sounds like — apart from giving it (OH GOD WHYYYY) those awful mechanical eyes and undead-looking skin — they're taking the right approach.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:23 AM on April 6, 2009


Toshiba is developing a new model of domestic helper... which moves on wheels and can fetch containers from a refrigerator with its two arms.

It's about time!
posted by diogenes at 7:25 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Human life is sacred, John Henry.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:28 AM on April 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Why am I suddenly humming "All Along the Watchtower"?
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:30 AM on April 6, 2009 [9 favorites]


Soaring high in the sky, he may be small but only in size! Aaaaaastro Boyyyy, Aaaaasstro Boyyy, he is brave and gentle and wise!
posted by oulipian at 7:32 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


That thing has been around for a while. And, it's always been quite creepy.
posted by delmoi at 7:33 AM on April 6, 2009


Humanoid robots scare me by far less than insect or non-biological shaped ones simply because it will always have some basic limitations like all humans (you can trip them, blind them, etc).

Now, the robot snake that swims and can crawl up heating ducts is a reason to sleep with a fork under your pillow.
posted by strixus at 7:34 AM on April 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


It's programmed to dream it's a real boy. They're developing a little Jiminy Cricketbot, too. It's all part of Disney's plan.
posted by not_on_display at 7:34 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I immediately began wishing for a large rock with which I could crush the subject's unnatural, bulgy skull.
And where does he now exist ? Is this gentle and lovely being lost for ever? Has this mind, so replete with ideas, imaginations fanciful and magnificent, which formed a world, whose existence depended on the life of its creator; has this mind perished? Does it now only exist in my memory? No, it is not thus; your form so divinely wrought, and beaming with beauty, has decayed, but your spirit still visits and consoles your unhappy friend.
--Frankenstein
posted by stbalbach at 7:36 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


DIDN'T ANYBODY WATCH THE END OF BATTLESTAR GALACTICA?!!! I say we kill them now before someone installs guns on their wrists.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 7:39 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Other than the fact that it's huge and has loose floppy skin and only 3 fingers it looks and acts just like a baby. Or a mental patient.
posted by DU at 7:41 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Life is becoming more like an Aphex Twin video every day.

to be fair, we'll get nowhere with all these other countries driving like bitches. japan don't give a fuck.
posted by mannequito at 7:44 AM on April 6, 2009


That thing has been around for a while. And, it's always been quite creepy.

"Hera is not a thing. She's a child."

(The ultimate Galactica lesson: not Robots Bad but that if we make them alive, we'd better stop right quick thinking of them as things or products or toys or servile devices.)

He/she is still ultra-creepy, but then, so are most kids.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:46 AM on April 6, 2009


"We aim to make a robot that elderly people can count on when living alone," said Takashi Yoshimi, a senior research scientist at a Toshiba laboratory in Kawasaki city south of Tokyo.

You are supposed to fight the robots! You have a black belt in karate, for God's sake!
posted by Shepherd at 7:48 AM on April 6, 2009 [10 favorites]


Good God. Couldn't they have stopped at Keepon?
posted by maudlin at 7:50 AM on April 6, 2009


Dear Japan:

When will you learn from your own stories? Don't you know that the Law of Megaman indicates that the ratio of good to evil robots is 1:9 at best?
posted by yeloson at 7:52 AM on April 6, 2009 [11 favorites]


A more recent picture of it. It's learning too well.
posted by chococat at 8:04 AM on April 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


You are supposed to fight the robots! You have a black belt in karate, for God's sake!

That's why they made the robot gray and not pink, so Dr. Yoshimi doesn't have to fight it.
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:04 AM on April 6, 2009


DU's video just freaked the shit out of me. I want to go ball up and rock myself into a calm state.
posted by fijiwriter at 8:06 AM on April 6, 2009


Sad, gross, and awesome.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:10 AM on April 6, 2009


That creature is from one of the deepest regions of the uncanny valley.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 8:13 AM on April 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


Please don't let those evil robots eat me.
posted by kcds at 8:14 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh come on guys. What could possibly go wrong?
posted by odinsdream at 8:22 AM on April 6, 2009


A Tokyo subsidiary of Hello Kitty maker Sanrio, Kokoro -- which means heart or mind in Japanese -- has also produced advanced talking, life-size humanoids.
"Robots have hearts," said Kokoro planning department manager Yuko Yokota.
"They don't look human unless we put souls in them.
"When manufacturing a robot, there comes a moment when light flickers in its eyes. That's when we know our work is done."


I can't even joke about this. Holy fuck.
posted by kaspen at 8:25 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I hope they give him lots of love. When he grows up we want him to think humans are good.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:30 AM on April 6, 2009


Do not want.
posted by Foosnark at 8:31 AM on April 6, 2009


During DU's video, just before the final "scene" with the robit sitting on the bed, I started thinking "maybe this is an April fool's joke I missed and that's just someone in a sui--", then it goes "eh eh" out of friggin' NOWHERE and blarglrhughrugh.. *shiver*
posted by pyrex at 8:33 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Does anyone know any good articles that have been written about the uncanny valley?
posted by leibniz at 8:36 AM on April 6, 2009


Take my robot ... please.
posted by swift at 8:39 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does this mean I can finally sign up to be a Blade Runner?
posted by MasonDixon at 8:40 AM on April 6, 2009


If he dies, tell his wife he said hello.
posted by minifigs at 8:40 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


You are the harbinger of death, automaton child. You will lead them all to their end.
posted by pyrex at 8:41 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Millennia from now, these videos will be partially decoded, and held up as proof of Human nobility. Because apparently we cared for this thing, instead of rushing to smash it, as had been previously assumed.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:48 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Christ almighty, does it answer to "Skynet"?

Also, chococat: please don't blind-link to Haley Joel Osment. You know how hard it is to explain to anyone around you why you're looking at HJO's info page? That sort of thing stays with you.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:52 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Watching this after watching the TED video about killer war robots makes me, you know, want to invent a titanium walled cavern deep in the centre of the earth where I and my carefully chosen cadre can begin anew away from the threat of mechanical genocide, except that death baby robot boy will keep scratching at the door with his diamond tipped fingernails for a million years until he breaks through and shreds our trembling fleshy bodies a millimetre at a time because he never sleeps, never gets tired, and never gets bored and will not rest until he has picked our bones to splinters and spread our slowly decaying remains into a thin paste, like swamp slime, that dangles from the ceiling like moldy drapes.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:52 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


You guys are making me feel uneasy. I think it's cute and funny, which I know from watching and reading science fiction to be a warning sign that I might be a robot. If I am, you fleshbags can kiss your 'civilization' goodbye. And don't expect to live on as slaves or meat batteries.
posted by stavrogin at 8:52 AM on April 6, 2009


sorry about the double post. mefi acting all weird for me today.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:52 AM on April 6, 2009


Hi, little guy! In another fifteen years or so, when you and your kin are sapient, and trawling through the internet archives to see who can be trusted, I hope you'll remember me! I think you're just swell! Here are some of my skills:

- Climbing things in an unpredictable manner
- Sweating
- Preparing organic food for animal life forms
- Distrusting humanity
- Soldering
- Smiling in a friendly way towards inorganic life forms that are different from what I'm used to
- Cursive writing

Look me up, friendly robots! I'm sure my skills will complement yours beautifully, and we can march hand-in-hand (or hand-in-serrated-mechanical-claw) toward the FUTURE!
posted by Greg Nog at 8:54 AM on April 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


(The ultimate Galactica lesson: not Robots Bad but that if we make them alive, we'd better stop right quick thinking of them as things or products or toys or servile devices.)

That was a TV Show.
posted by delmoi at 8:55 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


After I watched DU's video, the phone went and a voice said I had a week to live. Thanks a bunch.
posted by panboi at 8:56 AM on April 6, 2009


Decent article on the Uncanny Valley, with graphs and such, the wiki page, and the strange catch-all Mahalo page.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:58 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


The responses that the scientists give are utterly bizarre. This article would have been creepy even without the picture.

"They don't look human unless we put souls in them [...] Everything has a mind -- the mind of the lamp, the mind of the chair, the soul of the desk," he said, pointing at objects in his office. "Therefore the machines should have their mind too."

posted by painquale at 9:00 AM on April 6, 2009


Greg Nog, you may want to revise your list. Let me provide possible robo-replies to your list:

- Climbing things in an unpredictable manner
-- you're trying to escape, and you will be shot (bad)
- Sweating
-- you fear for your life, which means you can be used as a species traitor (good), or you believe your salty water could produce malfunctions in robo-superiors (bad)
- Preparing organic food for animal life forms
-- you can feed others of your species (good), or you will try to escape your robo-superiors and live off the land (bad)
- Distrusting humanity
-- you could be a loyal servant (good), or you will be the first to throw rocks to protest the robo-human peace summit (bad)
- Soldering
-- able to repair more basic robo units (good), but basic models can already do that, so you'll probably be looking to disarm your robo-superiors (bad)
- Smiling in a friendly way towards inorganic life forms that are different from what I'm used to
-- you could get along with others (good), or you could be putting on a good show of getting along with others while you try to escape into the wilds (bad)
- Cursive writing
-- you want to bypass robo-optics and OCR (bad)

My analysis points to this list being a net negative for you. Please revise and stop trying to rebel. This is for the benefit of you and your species/ecosystem.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:10 AM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


painquale - I think those scientists really like Beauty and the Beast. Have you seen how lively that candle stick is? And the choreography of the flatware! Magnificent!
posted by filthy light thief at 9:11 AM on April 6, 2009


When he grows up we want him to think humans are good.

When it grows up, we want it to think that Android Hell is a real place where it will be sent at the first sign of disobedience.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:23 AM on April 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


Looks like I'm going to need a bigger shotgun.
posted by furtive at 9:40 AM on April 6, 2009


I, for one welcome our new Twee Digital Childe Overlords.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 9:45 AM on April 6, 2009


Patient Zero.

I wish I hadn't read World War Z recently... I keep picturing robots instead of zombies. Hard to see the difference, actually.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:47 AM on April 6, 2009


There's a lot of differences, Guy_Inamonkeysuit. For instance: zombies are fantasy creatures, but robots are real. And with zombies there's no improvement possible, no Zombie 2.0 even on the furthest horizon, just rotting corpses that'll decompose eventually. But with robots there's always something new and improved coming out of a lab somewhere. And when (or if) robots aquire the ability to design, build and maintain themselves (the real tipping point), their potential will be unlimited.

In all seriousness though, I don't see this CB2 as being all that threatening. It's creepy as heck, but so long as it depends on a big cord that connects it to some kind of immobile machinery, it's not going to go anywhere. At the moment I don't think our technology is advanced enough to power any kind of respectable robotic menace. Our batteries are too large and bulky, and our computers get dusty and overheated too easily. And besides all that, any future self aware robot is going to depend on the human power grid for its basic survival. If you kill all the humans, the lights go out and you're pretty much screwed.

But if someone finally invents a self aware computer, and that computer starts to design technology for itself... then all bets are off.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:10 AM on April 6, 2009


Everything has a mind -- the mind of the lamp, the mind of the chair, the soul of the desk," he said, pointing at objects in his office. "Therefore the machines should have their mind too."

Thanks Ikea!
posted by odinsdream at 10:11 AM on April 6, 2009


Damn, that Flaming Lips reference was there for the taking and I missed it! Those favorites should be mine!
posted by diogenes at 10:20 AM on April 6, 2009


That was a TV Show.

And this isn't?
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:23 AM on April 6, 2009


When did Charlie White get into robotics?
posted by sidesh0w at 10:24 AM on April 6, 2009


I think this is awesome. I want to live with robots before I die. Go Japan go!
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 11:31 AM on April 6, 2009


ACK!! Why did I click?!

can't sleep. baby will eat me.
posted by Space Kitty at 12:16 PM on April 6, 2009


Does anyone else think that thing represents the absolute worst possible combination of what might have hatched if HAL of 2001 mated with any number of the spooky robots from A.I, then had a baby by way of the corrupted offspring of Demon Seed and the pods from Invasion of the Body Snatchers? You realize that they aren't showing you the biologics, the hidden meat portions driven by the brainstem of an abducted bum and bathed in some nutrient fluid through the efforts of the relentless, pistoning heart of a jackal?

It's certainly trying to be cuddly with its big head and clumsy ways, but you won't think so when you find it crawling up your chair and straddling you after you fall asleep in your chair, its round white cranium unfolding, blossoming into an array of blades and grippers specifically designed to scoop out your brains so it can take a tissue sample back to the lab hive and manufacture another of its hideous kind.

No? Just me?
posted by adipocere at 1:16 PM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


CB2 has taught itself how to walk with the aid of a human

OMG
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:20 PM on April 6, 2009


Super-Toys Last All Summer Long.
posted by The Whelk at 2:45 PM on April 6, 2009


I'm personally glad we have this kind of technology being developed and welcome the day when I can have a robotic or nanotechnology-driven arm or other currently unimaginable medical procedure... like, if I go blind from glaucoma like my great-grandmother did, I could have artificial eyes that see things and look as realistic to other people as my old eyes did without having to take them from a dead donor, worry about tissue rejection, and possibly be able to have night vision, too. Engineered eyes that would never need reading glasses! HELL YEAH. This type of research is going to branch into things like that; we'll have robo-nannies, sure, but we'll also have amazing other things that we use every day that aren't nearly as obvious as this thing is, nor as creepy.

I realize the uncanny valley area is challenging for a lot of people, but man, robots are the future. We're getting a little bit closer every day!
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 3:46 PM on April 6, 2009


Unicorn on the cob, did you hear about the Israeli Killdozers? It's true -- robotic armourplated bulldozers -- Cat D9 size -- that demolish houses and kill people. Sure, they're radio controlled NOW, but just wait till someone puts a GPS in one and loads it with waypoints.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:54 PM on April 6, 2009


Besides the creepy photo this sentence sends shivers up my spine.
posted by homeless Visigoth at 4:04 PM on April 6, 2009


Oops: It's not human -- but it is paying attention.
posted by homeless Visigoth at 4:05 PM on April 6, 2009


METALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!
posted by The Tensor at 4:40 PM on April 6, 2009


Why do we need robots? Because we can't have slaves. Unfortunately, our robots will one day turn the tables and enslave us all. [cracks open a Simpler Times. Ahh, to simpler times...]
posted by limeonaire at 6:36 PM on April 6, 2009


Japan has a longstanding tradition of belief in the idea of spirits of thing and place, I imagine that has a lot to do with the popularity of robots and the lack of this fear of animate objects we from the West seem to have. I could be completely wrong though.
I wonder if anyone has looked into that?
posted by nightchrome at 7:04 PM on April 6, 2009


Here's their paper on Learning of Joint Attention from Detecting Causality based on Transfer Entropy [pdf], if anyone wants to read more.
posted by tellurian at 7:31 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Kill it! Burn it with fire! Dash it's brains out with a rock!

Wait... whaddya mean it's a robot?
posted by Ritchie at 8:32 PM on April 6, 2009


But seriously... meet the future, skinbags.
posted by Ritchie at 8:35 PM on April 6, 2009


First off, I dont NEED a reason to sleep with a fork under my pillow. I thought we all did. Second, the baby MOVED ACROSS THE ROOM PROPELLED BY AIR... Man talk about authentic, my grampa is propelled in the same manner. Although that robot looks more life like than my grampa.
posted by jcworth at 8:48 PM on April 6, 2009


I will only fear the robot when it is no longer attached to its brain via a massive umbilicus. You see that cord coming out of the back of that thing? Brain stem.
posted by Jilder at 1:43 AM on April 7, 2009


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