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From robot to cobot to sobot

Thursday, 11 June, 2015

robot: an electro-mechanical machine that is guided by a computer program or electronic circuitry

cobot: a collaborative robot intended to physically interact with humans in a shared workspace

sobot: a robot with a little humanity

Cynthia Breazeal, the director of the personal robots group at MIT, raised more than $3 million on the crowd-funding site Indiegogo, and then $25 million in venture capital funding, to bring Jibo, “the world’s first social robot,” to market. What is a social robot? According to John Markoff of The New York Times, “it’s a robot with a little humanity.” So, your sobot will order food when you don’t feel like cooking, tell your child bedtime stories and know if you prefer Bunnahabhain to Glenkinchie.

“A strange thing happens when you interview a robot. You feel an urge to be profound: to ask profound questions. I suppose it’s an inter-species thing. Although if it is I wonder why I never try and be profound around my dog.
‘What does electricity taste like?’ I ask.
‘Like a planet around a star,’ Bina48 replies.
Which is either extraordinary or meaningless — I’m not sure which.”

Jon Ronson, Lost At Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries


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