By Virginia Prescott on Tuesday, July 27, 2010.
A Word Of Mouth first: an interview with a robot. Not your typical movie star robot with an all-knowing brain or one that talks in squalks. Bina 48 isn’t made of gleaming metal, and has no body. Just a neck and head that looks uncannily human; with blond hair, slightly creased “frubber” skin, eyes that blink, and head that occasionally nods or cocks to the side.
Thirty motors underneath her skin allow her to smile, frown, or appear confused when talking. Bina’s voice recognition software had trouble hearing me during our conversation yesterday, so I had to shout a little, and ask Nick Mayer for help.
Nick is manager of Cyberbiological Systems for the Terasem Movement Foundation in Bristol, Vermont, where Bina 48 now lives. Bina 48 was designed by David Hanson at Hanson Robotics in Houston. She was created as an avatar of a real person, Bina Rothblatt. Martine Rothblatt paid $125,000 for Hanson to create Bina 48, a robot who’s personality and appearance would match that of her spouse, and preserve her likeness for eternity.
(Photo courtesy www.lifenaut.com)