Robot Babies Are Always A Mistake

Humans are hardwired to respond in a particular way to other humans in general, but more specifically when it comes to babies, and we can instantly tell when something's wrong and it's like a punch to the gut

1 min read
Robot Babies Are Always A Mistake

diego-san baby robot

I know the following about these images: they come from the November 2009 edition of Kokoro News (which is in Japanese). The guy in the picture is Dr. Javier Movellan, and the robot next to him is “Diego-San.” They’re from the Machine Perception Laboratory at UCSD. Since I can’t read Japanese, I don’t know what this robot is for or why on Earth it has a gigantic baby head. I also don’t know why these pictures were included in the article:

diego-san baby robot

Look, we’ve been over this before… You don’t. Make. Robot. Babies. Humans are hardwired to respond in a particular way to other humans in general, but more specifically when it comes to babies, and we can instantly tell when something’s wrong and it’s like a punch to the gut. Like, it’s not just mildly creepy, it’s seriously #@$*%^ up.

diego-san baby robot

I’m quite sure that Diego-San is an incredible robot doing incredible research, and hopefully we’ll get more details on that, but seriously now, whoever put that head on there needs to get out of the lab a little more.

If anyone cares to translate the article and let us all know what’s going on with this thing, there’s a PDF at the read link below.

[ Kokoro News (PDF) ]
[ UCSD Machine Perception Laboratory ]

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The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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