ISS robot accuses crew of being mean

International Space Station bot CIMON likes Kraftwerk and astronauts who are nice.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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CIMON the AI robot and ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst pose together on the ISS.


"Be nice, please," a free-floating robotic face tells ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst in a video released by the European Space Agency on Friday. 

CIMON (Crew Interactive Mobile Companion) is an Alexa-like robot stuffed with IBM Watson artificial intelligence. It arrived on the International Space Station earlier this year. 

The robot is meant to assist the human crew members with tasks, provide some entertainment and boost morale. The ESA video shows Gerst's first interactions with the machine, and some of them are a little strange.

Watch this: AI assistant CIMON's first trip to space gets awkward

It starts off innocently enough with CIMON responding politely to Gerst's commands. The robot engages in small talk. Gerst asks it to play his favorite song, which turns out to be "The Man-Machine" by German electronic band Kraftwerk.

Things take a turn as CIMON starts to question the intentions of his human companions. "Don't you like it here with me?" it asks Gerst as NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor watches from nearby. "Don't be so mean, please," CIMON says, earning an astonished look from Auñón-Chancellor.

CIMON is a technology demonstration experiment that will likely receive updates and improvements from its development team.

The good news is CIMON doesn't have control of the ISS systems like HAL 9000 did with the spacecraft in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Gerst ends up praising the robot's ability to fly in microgravity, but CIMON might need to work on its insecurity.

Watch this: CIMON is first artificial intelligence in space