The Singularity might not be far away now!
Scientists in Singapore have created Nadine, the most human-like robot to have stepped on the face of the earth thus far. Nadine is a doppelganger robot who has been named and crafted after her creator, professor Nadia Thalmann, and was unveiled recently at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Not only can you have intelligible conversations with Nadine, she has own her “personality,” “range of emotions,” and “mood swings,” just like any normal human would.
Nadine has also been programmed by her creators to recognize faces and remember information. If you meet Nadine once, she is not going to forget you!
Described as a robot with a “soft skin and flowing brunette hair”, Nadine smiles when greeting you, looks at you in the eye when talking, and can also shake hands with you. Although the scientists at NTU conceded that humanoid robots will have many uses in the years to come, Nadine will — at least for the moment — be employed as a receptionist at the university to test her skills.
A video of the humanoid in action sees her answer questions from her creator in a pseudo-emotional computerized Scottish accent, reports the Daily Mail.
“You are a beautiful and attractive social robot,” says Professor Thalmann, to which Nadine replies: “Thank you. You look attractive too.”
Nadine can also react to negative sentiments. For instance, when Professor Thalmann says “I hate you,” Nadine retorts quickly, but without being overly dramatic: “Tell me more about that.”
Watch the video below, where Nadine is seen having a conversation with professor Nadia Thalmann.
Powered by intelligent software similar to Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana, Nadine “can be happy or sad, depending on the conversation” and she “also has a good memory,” with the ability to recognize people she has met and remember what those people have said before, according to a report published by ABC News.
Although Nadia Thalmann appeared to shrug off suggestions about Nadine being a precursor to the much-touted singularity — an era that will enable us to transcend our biological limitations and amplify our creativity — the professor said that “social robots” like Nadine can help counter problems of shrinking workforce and aging populations, apart from becoming trusted companions of the elderly.
“As countries worldwide face challenges of an aging population, social robots can be one solution to address the shrinking workforce, become personal companions for children and the elderly at home, and even serve as a platform for healthcare services in future.”
And, of course, even Thalmann couldn’t resist bringing in a Star Wars reference.
“These socially intelligent robots [like Nadine] could be like C-3PO, the iconic golden droid from Star Wars, with knowledge of language and etiquette.”
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) December 30, 2015
The unveiling of Nadine, who has been touted as one of the most “human-like” robots to have been created, brought about a range of reactions from users on social media, with many describing her as “potentially dangerous,” “creepy,” and “scary.” Some suggested that the invention of Nadine was the first step towards “dystopia.”
— DC_SCOTT (@Wolfman_Scott) January 2, 2016
— Isabella Thermes (@IThermes) January 2, 2016
But most experts appeared indifferent to such sentiments, saying the fears are bound to dissipate over time as the technology becomes more popularly used.
Only time will tell if human-like robots like Nadine can be the solutions to many of the world’s problems, but it is certainly another step by technology towards what could arguably be a mechanized future.
[Image via Ruptly TV/YouTube]