Robots and Emotion: Tetchy the Turtle Meets HAL-9000

The most advanced robots in the very fine movie I, Robot had the ability to interpret the emotions of the human beings around them. They did it by analyzing the stress patterns in the voices they heard. In phrasing it just that way, the film pays homage to an earlier computer who did just the same thing - the HAL 9000 computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Today, Affective Media Limited in Scotland is working to help computers better understand people in various stages of emotional stress. Affective Media even has an online demo with an animated character named Tetchy the Turtle, who accepts voice samples and analyzes them.


(From Affective Media)

Once you have given Tetchy a four-second voice sample, it works on processing your sample. Eventually, the turtle begins to imitate your emotions, feeding them back to you.


(From Tetchy the Turtle)

Dr Christian Jones, the chief executive of Affective Media, puts it this way:

"When you are depressed or sad, the pitch of your voice drops and your speech slows down. When you are angry, the pitch rises and the volume of your voice goes up. We betray our emotions as we talk in dozens of subtle ways. Our recognition system uses 40 of these. It ignores the words you use, and concentrates exclusively on the sound quality of speech. It can tell your emotional state the very first time it hears your voice."

Affective Media is planning for a future in which it will be important that machines are able to understand the different states of their human colleagues. "Soon we will talk to our cars. We will give them voice commands to turn on CD players, heaters and fans," said Jones. "Using emotion recognition, those commands would also show if we are angry, frustrated, or sleepy."

HAL-9000 was sophisticated enough to run all of the mechanical systems of a space ship. HAL was also able to tell whether or not the human astronauts were up to the task of making decisions. Here is the famous exchange between Dave Bowman and the HAL-9000 (as found in the novel) that may presage the future of human-computer interaction:


(HAL-9000)

"Hal, switch to manual hibernation control."

"I can tell from your voice harmonics, Dave, that you're badly upset. Why don't you take a stress pill and get some rest?"

"Hal, I am in command of this ship. I order you to release the manual hibernation control."

"I'm sorry, Dave, but in accordance with special subroutine C1435-dash-4, quote, When the crew are dead or incapacitated, the onboard computer must assume control, unquote. I must, therefore, overrule your authority, since you are not in any condition to exercise it intelligently."

"Hal," said Bowman, now speaking with an icy calm. "I am not incapacitated. Unless you obey my instructions, I shall be forced to disconnect you." (Read more about HAL-9000.)

Just as Tetchy the Turtle is being designed to show emotion, science fiction robots have been written that way for years. Read about Marvin the depressed robot from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. And you may also appreciate the comments of the robot cab driver from Philip K. Dick's classic short story A Present for Pat from 1952. Read more about Affective Media at Mind what you say - this robot will know how you feel.


(From HAL's Brain)

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/23/2004)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 8 )

Related News Stories - (" Artificial Intelligence ")

Watch 'Do You Trust This Computer' For Free Today
Thanks for making this available, Elon.

EA Created AI That Taught Itself To Play Battlefield
Harmless fun for computer scientists.

AI Tool Lynx Insight And The Cybernetic Newsroom
'The structure,... was once a great homeostatic newspaper, the New York Times. It printed itself directly below us...' - Philip K. Dick, 1963.

Evorus Your Crowd-Powered Conversational Assistant
'...the DS [Daily Schedule] was suddenly transformed into a valued confidante.'

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Swarm Of Mindless Robots Works Together
'Very tiny pseudo insects that... can unite to form a superordinate system.'

SpotMini Robot Dog, Autonomous And On Sale In 2019
Great, an autonomous slamhound. It is cute, though.

RoboFly Is Laser-Powered, Adorable
Don't swat this fly!

MSG Sphere Las Vegas, ala Star Wars
'The smoky globe, hung in the vault, was shot with colored light...'

Tetraplegics Dominate Avatar Races
Well, just speaking brain-to-computer...

MIT Ampli Blocks Build Biomedical Devices
Damn it Spock, I'm a doctor not an engineer!

UberAIR Asks For Skytaxi Landing Prototypes
You know you want to ride in one.

Boring Tunnel Almost Ready
Your underground future is calling!

Handheld Human Skin Printer
It outputs a thin wad of uniflesh.

Healthy Fast Food Courtesy Of Robot Chefs
'The electric cook was stirring empty nothing in a pan, with a zeal worthy a dozen eggs.'

Mass Production Of In Vitro Meat From One Sample
They're Assimilating Our Culture, That's What They're Doing

Amazing 'Hybrid' Solar-Powered Sea Slug Does Photosynthesis
Thank goodness for Star Trek.

Retinal Prosthesis Uses Organic Printing Inks
We can rebuild you - well, your eyes, maybe.

Should You Submit Your DNA To A Database?
Consumer DNA services are often inaccurate.

Squid-Like Robots Soon To Be 3D Printable
'It was a chemotactic artificial jellyfish designed to slither...'

Humans Evolve Deep Diving Abilities
Sounds like '60s sci-fi to me.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.