Christopher Mims

A View from Christopher Mims

'Lovotics': The New Science of Engineering Human, Robot Love

“After industrial, service and social robots, Lovotics introduces a new generation of robots, with the ability to love and be loved by humans”

  • June 30, 2011

If you think the debates between fans of various mobile and computing platforms are tiresome, just wait until fanboys are actually, romantically in love with their devices.

An early version of the Lovotics test platform

Bi-directional love between a human and a robot – realistic, genuine, biologically-inspired love – is the goal of Hooman Samani, an artificial intelligence researcher at the Social Robotics Lab at the National University of Singapore. He calls this new discipline Lovotics.

Across nearly a dozen papers, he has developed a comprehensive artificial intelligence simulation of the emotional and endocrine systems underpinning love in humans, allowing his robots to be “an active participant in the communicative process, [adjusting] its affective state depending on its interactions with humans.”

Like humans, Lovotics robots experience global state changes brought about by “hormones”

Samani’s robots are equipped with both an emotional and a hormonal climate. They display a spectrum of emotions, from happiness to disgust. Based on the videos Samani has produced, they appear to experience something akin to jealousy, and are only content when being stroked by their human companions.

Usability testing and good design are key to creating robots that inspire love

For simplicity’s sake, these robots resemble over-size Tribbles. They trill like R2D2, vibrate, move about and flash LED lights in order to qualify their moods.

Whether or not this work “could lead to a revolution in the way humans and robots interact and love each other,” it’s fascinating to watch a researcher pole-vault right over the question of whether or not humans can ever accept robots into the realm of whether or not we will find them as indispensable as pets, friends and – dare we say it – lovers.

Hear more about robotics at EmTech MIT 2017.

Register now

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Basic.
  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly magazine delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.