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| September 22, 2019

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Robot Conditioned to Love Goes Awry

Robot Conditioned to Love Goes Awry
Christian Mc Karthy

In this hugely technology-dependent age of ours, the only thing missing may be a robot capable of evincing the most profound of human emotions – love.Or maybe not; as researchers have successfully programmed a third generation humanoid robot, Kenji, capable of loving. Yes, you read that right – a robot capable of loving.

Much to the thrill of researchers at Akimu Robotic Research Institute, Kenji was successfully eliciting the emotion of love, and vocalizing it through a 20-watt speaker embedded in his chest that has only pre-recorded sounds of dogs and cats. As per Dr.Akito Takahashi, the principal investigator on the project, Kenji may well have been the “final step in one of the fundamentals of singularity”.

Kenji, along with several other robots, was conditioned to elicit emotional reactions to external stimuli and his first demonstration of love happened to be on a stuffed doll that he would embrace for hours at a stretch.However, what first started as simple insistent questions about the doll when it was out of sight gradually turned into intense love for almost anybody Kenji set his eyes on. This seemed to be the direct outcome of several months of self-iteration within the complex machine-learning code.

Things went out of control one evening when Kenji refused to let out a young female intern from the lab enclosure and blocked the exit with his huge body. He also hugged her repeatedly. The young intern had been spending long hours with Kenji on a daily basis, checking his systems and loading new software.The intern could escape only after two senior members temporarily deactivated Kenji. This particular and other such behavior patterns have been termed as ‘not rational’ by
Dr. Takahashi.

The impulse to immediately bond with anybody who meets his gaze has continued ever since the female intern incident and it may lead Dr. Takahashi to permanently decommission Kenji. Even though the permanent decommissioning of Kenji may seem to dampen the initial enthusiasm, Dr. Takahashi perceives it as ‘only a minor setback’. He is optimistic about the day when humans will not only live alongside robots but also ‘love and be loved by them’.

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