Our feelings about automation are quite positive. We believe that robots free human beings from work that is dull, dirty, and dangerous. Automation increases productivity and makes it possible for ordinary people to own items that improve their lives. And yet we still have to click through to read an article called “Inside the terrifying future of shapeshifting robots that will manipulate your emotions.”
Terrifying futures, including terrifying future robots, and the stock in trade of science fiction writers, so we can’t be too surprised at the suggestions that there is a terrifying future and it features robots.
The article was a bit of a let-down. You have to be pretty easily terrified to get the full effect from the innovations they’re reporting.
The closest we’ve been to shapeshifting robots is industrial robots that can change out tools on the ends of their robotic arms. “Shapeshifting” is a word we associate with werewolves, at the very least.
This is a let-down, too. It turns out the shape-shifting they have in mind is the use of pneumatic actuators to show the major cross-cultural emotions: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise. These are the facial expressions that most people can easily recognize on faces from different cultures.
Things like sardonic glee or stoic acceptance are more advanced.
A Japanese robot has been built (or at least the face has been completed) which can show those basic expressions with 29 actuators.
However, there is further shapeshifting mentioned in the article. English physicists have come up with an idea to create a surface for soft robots which is itself made of nanorobots. Controlling the external shape of the nanorobots could adjust the shape of, for example, medical delivery robots to be more suited to specific applications. They could, for example, change from a sphere containing the medication into a long oval containing the medication.
Manipulate your emotions
It’s not enough that these shapeshifting robots make the future terrifying. They’re also going to manipulate our emotions. Frankly, we think the person who wrote that headline knows quite a bit about manipulating emotions.
However, another set of Japanese researchers created a hand-held robot that can read text messages. The tiny robot can lean in, thus simulating sympathy, can even add an exhortation after the message telling the recipient not to get upset. 94 Japanese subjects in the experiment were able to control their anger and thoughts of revenge with this help from the robot.
We’re not terrified by this, either.
If you’re feeling terrified by the condition of your Rexroth motion control systems, we can help. Call us for all your Rexroth electrical drive and control support and service needs.