ICRA conference: Sentimental machines ensure good vibrations

Good or bad vibrations are a frequently used metaphor to describe moods that are otherwise elusive: Apparently signals are transmitted that cannot be identified in detail, but still have an effect on the mood. Joffrey Becker from the Paris Collège de France presented the approach at the workshop Sentimental Machines As part of the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in front. The concept is to be examined more closely in a project entitled “The Apprentices”.

The researchers want to create a common vibration space for three robots and a human audience. The vibrations generated by the movements of the robots are to be converted into sound, and the noises of the people in turn into vibrations that the robots can perceive. The project, which is still in preparation, is inspired by approaches to interspecies communication on a non-symbolic level. The researchers expressly refer in their study about the usual ones in Thailand Fight between rhinoceros beetlesin which the beetles are animated by the human spectators to fight against rivals by vibrating the wooden base.

When asked what new kinds of relationships could develop between humans and robots, however, Kate Devlin (King’s College London) concentrated on sex – which is not always easy: She reported difficulties for the second conference Love and Sex with Robots to find a venue in London in 2016. After all, there was widespread response in the press, albeit with sometimes adventurous headlines. Her favorite, Devlin says, is the headline in this regard Sex Robots May Literally Fuck Us to Death been. However, she does not share such fears.

There are only a few companies in the world that work on sex robots, according to Devlin. The best known is probably RealDoll who offers the Harmony robot. It is still in the prototype stage and essentially consists of a head. Devlin reported on a visit to the company where she was impressed by the level of craftsmanship in the manufacture of the machines. Artificial intelligence (AI) is particularly interesting, as it allows users to create their own personality.

The combination of robotics and sex does not have to be limited to human-like robots, as was the case with the first at the end of 2016 Sex-Toy Hackathon showed, with which then again good vibrations played an important role. Devlin is “cautiously optimistic” about intimate relationships between humans and robots. She is not afraid that this will replace interpersonal relationships, says the researcher. Rather, completely new types of relationships are likely to develop. Art is required here.

Stavros Didakis (New York University, Shanghai), for example, has shown himself in his interactive installation Ubiquitous Colonies 1.0 from natural parasites as well as from the Illustrations by the zoologist Ernst Haeckel get inspired. The artist Louis-Philippe Demers from the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, on the other hand, primarily deals with what he calls “kinesthetic empathy”. Emotions manifested in movements, he says. He researched this in several installations and performances. So in The Blind Robot Let robotic hands scan people.

In the participatory robot performance Inferno dancers were equipped with exoskeletons. A workshop participant commented on this in the chat: “I was one of the dancers in ‘Inferno’. In fact, we didn’t know what was going to happen. Unique experience. ”And the latest performance Repeat is based on the movements of warehouse workers.


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