The robot that acts like Keanu Reeves
Researchers in England have been working on robot that can skillfully mimic facial expressions. The only problem is that its expressions are in the range of Keanu Reeves'.
If you were going to design a robot to look like a real human being, which famous face would be your model?
Would you go for an Angelina Jolie because, well, she's already been Lara Croft and somehow the distance from video game character on your telly to robot in your living room is shorter than the walk to your garage?
Or might you prefer a warm-hearted intellectual such as Kanye West, the Marquis de Sade, or Ann Coulter?
Well, the University of West of England and the University of Bristol, as part of a project called Human-Robot Interaction, have been working to perfect an (allegedly) human-looking robot.
You know, one that can manage a few facial expressions, move its lips, and criticize you day after day.
Jules, as the robot is named, has a camera in his head that is connected to little electronic motors in his skin, and he copies the expressions his camera captures on an actual human's face. In a sense, he's like a ventriloquist's dummy. Without the ventriloquist in sight.
Yet if you watch the video above, you may think the same strange thoughts that passed through my mind: First, "Oh look, they've cloned Keanu Reeves." And second, "Why is he talking about destroying humanity?"
Jules, or Neo Keanu, seems keen on destroying three parts of the United Kingdom: Weston, Gloucester and Wales. Gloucester is quite nice in a twee English kind of way. Weston is a rather sad seaside resort. And Wales, well, it is the center of Britain's drug trade, so perhaps this is a robot on some kind of moral quest.
However, the more you watch him, the more you question whether he is real and whether Keanu Reeves isn't.
It is all just slightly disturbing. Surely there were several moments during The Matrix when you wondered whether Keanu was one of them rather than one of us. Perhaps you have felt that about some of his other movies too. Well, that is what it's like having Jules around.
It makes me fear for the future. Or, at least, raise a stiff eyebrow in mild concern.