Warning Will Robinson! Robotic girlfriends hit the market

Artificial intelligence should enable robot to speak, carry on conversations

The world's first robotic girlfriend has hit the market.

We've been hearing a lot about robotic arms on the space shuttle, as well as robotic snakes and robotic birds and bugs . But now we're hearing about a robot worthy of being considered a companion.

A New Jersey-based company, TrueCompanion.com, has unveiled its talking robotic girlfriend . This is no life-size doll. Roxxxy the robot is designed with artificial intelligence and life-like synthetic skin. At 5 feet, 7 inches tall, the robot can't walk or move its arms and legs, but it is designed to not only talk but carry on a conversation.

The robot, partially designed by Douglas Hines, a former engineer for Bell Labs, also is designed to have sex.

And while that may catch some people by surprise, a British researcher predicted two years ago that people would one day have robotic companions that they could fall in love with and marry. David Levy, a British artificial intelligence researcher who wrote the book, Love and Sex with Robots , said people will be marrying robots by 2050. He also said late in 2007 that people would be having sexual relations with robots within five years.

So far, it looks like Levy's predictions are on track.

TrueCompanion.com didn't offer information on how complex a conversation Roxxxy can carry on. The company noted that the robot can remember the owner's name and "express her love to you and be your loving friend. She can talk to you, listen to you and feel your touch."

Levy had said in a previous interview that getting robots past walking with jerky movements will be the easier part of building artificial companions. The diffucult part, he noted, will be creating an artificial intelligence system good enough to mimic a flowing, sophisticated conversation.

"There are already people who are producing fairly crude personalities and fairly crude models of human emotions now," Levy said in 2007. "This will be among the harder parts of this process... Human/computer conversation has attracted a lot of research attention since the 1950s, and it hasn't made as much progress as you'd expect in 50 years. But computers are so much more powerful now and memory is so much better... so we'll see software that can have interesting, intelligent conversations."

Levy also estimated that robots will be able to have interesting conversations -- not yet at the level of a college graduate but enjoyable -- within 15 years. In 20 or 30 years, however, he expects them to carry on sophisticated conversations.

The company, which has worked on Roxxxy for the past two decades, said on its Web site that engineers are working on a male robotic companion called Rocky.

TrueCompanion.com hasn't responded to questions about how much the robots cost.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld . Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin , send e-mail to sgaudin@computerworld.com or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed .

Tags robotstruecompanion.com

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?