Robot love: When Daniel123 met Jane234

Open-source robot Qbo gets all warm and fuzzy when it meets one of its own kind.

Love at first byte? Video screenshot by Tim Hornyak/CNET

"I must say that your face sounds familiar."

It may not be the warmest response to a pickup line, but in robot terms it's almost a home run. Daniel123 looks like he scored a date with Jane234.

Earlier this month, we saw how a charming little open-source robot called Qbo recognized itself in a mirror.

After a bit of preening, this particular Qbo (aka Daniel123) was ready for action. In the latest video from Francisco Paz and TheCorpora, who are developing Qbo as an artificial intelligence project, Daniel meets a female Qbo named Jane234 and seems to take a shine to her.

"You're very good looking," Daniel tells Jane.

Equipped with a whack of sensors and functions such as object recognition, the bots chat to each other using Festival, a speech synthesis system, and Julius, a speech recognition engine.

Is it meaningless prattle, or is there something deeper happening?

The latest experiments have prompted Paz and colleagues to reflect on whether it's possible to simulate consciousness in robots.

"Does all this mean that Qbo may be aware of his actions or surroundings?" they write. "The answer is that, for the moment, as [Cornell University roboticist] Hod Lipson would say, Qbo is just a programmable electromechanical set that can see, hear, speak, and move.

"The ecosystem and the community around Qbo, that can program him and teach him, will tell in the future if we could witness the birth of 'some spontaneous intelligence.'"

But who needs brains if you've already got love?


 

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