How we feel about robots that feel

Octavia, a humanoid robot designed to fight fires on Navy ships, has mastered an impressive range of facial expressions.

Turned off, she looks like a human-size doll. She has a smooth white face with a snub nose. Her plastic eyebrows sit evenly on her forehead like capsized canoes.

When she’s on, however, her eyelids fly open and she begins to display emotion. She can nod her head in a gesture of understanding; she can widen her eyes and lift both her eyebrows in a convincing semblance of alarm; or she can cock her head to one side and screw up her mouth, replicating human confusion.

To comic effect, she can arch one eyebrow and narrow the opposite eye while tapping her fingers together, as though plotting acts of robotic revenge.

But Octavia’s range of facial expressions isn’t her most impressive trait.

Read more: How we feel about robots that feel

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Mike Rawson

Mike Rawson has recently re-awoken a long-standing interest in robots and our automated future.

He lives in London with a single android – a temperamental vacuum cleaner – but is looking forward to getting more cyborgs soon.

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How we feel about robots that feel

by Mike Rawson time to read: 1 min
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