Make Magazine has voted Keepon the #1 Robot on their top 10 favourite robot list. It’s no secret that I love Keepon. There’s something about the simplicity of the idea that makes me smile every time I see him.
Here’s the breakdown of the top 5/10 (for a complete list see the original post):
That’s right, Keepon beat R2-D2, a laudable achievement. But then, Keepon is a real robot.
If you haven’t had a chance to see Keepon in action, check out this video (I use it in my Roboethics course, it’s so good):
Check out the rest of the Make Magazine post to see more videos on the top ten list.
Robots like Keepon are designed to engage our emotions and cause us to form relationships with them as a result. For anyone interested the field of robotics/computing that deals with this kind of design is affective computing. I posted about IBM’s Watson not long ago, which is another example of affective computing in action.
Though Keepon seems harmless, there are some interesting ethical issues that are worth keeping in mind with respect to affective computing. One of the main ones is asking in what circumstances it might be problematic to coax people into emotive responses to robots/machines. It may be harmless with Keepon, but with more complex computers like Watson, getting us to “like” the machine might be a way of getting us to ignore the motives designed into the system, such as profit.
It’s a conversation worth having sooner rather than later, given that Watson and Keepon are hitting the shelves (albeit different shelves) very soon.