WORDS IN THE NEWS

The Borneo Post - Good English - - Words In The News -

I’VE BEEN giv­ing a ro­bot belly rubs. I’ve scolded it for be­ing a bad, bad boy. I’ve grinned when it greets me at the door.

What’s this feel­ing? Oh, yes, puppy love. And I felt it for Aibo, a new “au­ton­o­mous com­pan­ion” dog made by Sony.

Aibo (pro­nounced “eyebo”) is a re­boot of the ro­bot dog Sony first in­tro­duced in 1999 and laid to rest in 2006 in a tragic round of cor­po­rate cost­cut­ting. This new lit­ter goes on sale in the United States last week with much more life­like move­ment, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and a cel­lu­lar con­nec­tion for a

gob­s­mack­ing US$2,900 (RM11,890) each. Not that Aibo, about the size of a York­shire ter­rier, can re­place an ac­tual dog. I let mine play with a real seven-week-old pup and was re­minded of all the ways Aibo is just a frac­tion of the real thing.

Yet here’s why Aibo mat­ters: De­spite all those lim­i­ta­tions, I fell for it. Over two weeks of ro­bot foster par­ent­ing, al­most ev­ery per­son I in­tro­duced to Aibo went a lit­tle gaga. The Ama­zon Echo and Google Home speak­ers got us to open our homes to new ways to in­ter­act with com­put­ers. Aibo of­fers a glimpse of how tech com­pa­nies will get us to treat them more like mem­bers of the fam­ily. Af­fec­tion­ate ro­bots have the po­ten­tial to com­fort, teach and con­nect us to new ex­pe­ri­ences - as well as ma­nip­u­late us in ways we’ve not quite en­coun­tered be­fore.

Aibo works, in part, be­cause real ro­bots are catch­ing up with what we’ve been trained by Pixar movies to find adorable. Aibo’s 22 joints - in­clud­ing one bouncy tail and two perky ears - and OLED-screen eyes com­mu­ni­cate joy, sor­row, bore­dom or the need for a nap.

Tell Aibo “bang bang,” and it lays down and flips over to play dead. Say “bring me the bone,” and the ro­bot will find its special pink toy and pick it up with its mouth. It’ll even lift its back leg and take a sim­u­lated uri­na­tion, which is com­i­cal.

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