Fijit Friends (that debuted at February's Toy Fair and are made by Mattel) can sing,
dance, giggle, and tell jokes. With soft, tactile skin and an LED face, these friends respond
to noise, movements, and tummy poking. Fijits react to over 30 specific voice commands,
have about 150 phrases, and can interact with mobile apps, TV commercials, and other
outside stimuli. When bedtime comes, they can become a nightlight.
These little interactive robots were specifically designed for young girls from six years
old and up. Since young girls seem to like to chat a lot, it’s only natural that they are going
to want someone to talk to but, of course, their human buddies can’t be around them 24/7.
NOT WORKING OUT
Foxconn — an electronics manufacturer from Taiwan with huge
factories in China — generates about 40 percent of the global consumer
electronics revenue by creating things like iPhones and computer
components on giant assembly lines staffed by humans. Until recently,
you've probably never heard of Foxconn, but a series of worker suicides
made people take a hard look at where our electronics were coming
from. Foxconn has made some improvements (including nets around tall
buildings), but by all accounts, the core of the problem (the work)
remains "repetitive, exhausting, and alienating."
Foxconn has announced (at an employee dance party of all places)
that they're planning on buying some robots to replace their human
workforce. And by some robots, they mean one million robots over the
next three years. So, for every one robot Foxconn currently has working
at their manufacturing plants, they're going to buy a hundred more.
At this point, it's not sounding like Foxconn is trying to augment its
human workforce with robots to make things easier on the humans.
Foxconn employs something like 1.2 million people, and it's not too
much of a stretch to imagine that one robot could probably work as efficiently as 1.2 humans. This could be a shift from
"mostly human" to "mostly robot," with about a million jobs in the balance.
A chatbot is a computer program that's intended to fool people into thinking
that it's human. Historically, this has been a tricky thing to do, and for the last 20
years there's been a $100,000 prize and gold medal waiting for the first computer
program that can carry on a conversation that’s indistinguishable from a human’s.
Arguably (very arguably), this could also be the first computer program to
demonstrate an artificial intelligence.
Cool tidbits herein provided by Evan Ackerman at www.botjunkie.com, www.robotsnob.com, www.plasticpals.com, and other places.
24 SERVO 10.2011