Nao and Heather Knight on CNN
Nao and Heather Knight on CNN
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Tuesday, 06 September 2011

The Nao robot as standup comic? At the moment only with a little help from its friends.

Is there no stopping this robot?

With the help of Heather Knight the "social roboticist" Data, aka an example of the Nao robot, has managed to get a slot on CNN. Data, and yes he is named after the Star Trek character, is a standup comedian robot and he is "coached" by Heather Knight. 

The video clip below includes Heather talking a little about how she puts the performance together and the importance of interaction. She also mentions that other star of the small screen, Watson, and strangely the "robot singularity". Perhaps this is just a sign that the wider media always lumps robots together into one item and always attempts to find the fear factor - even when the robot is so cute as to make you feel that you have failed, not it, when you don't laugh at its feeble jokes.




This isn't just fun however, although it does look like a whole lot of fun. The idea is that Data can gather the audience response to his mostly terrible gags and work out how best to deliver them. In the CNN clip he simply asks how he is doing, but in an earlier TED video - see below - the audience are given colored cards to hold up as feedback.

For the future the idea is to make that feedback more varied and natural - either the robot has to learn to recognize responses in people's faces or the people will have to learn to use a smartphone app to let it know how well it is doing.

At the moment Data gets a lot of help just from the novelty value of being a robot. It will be more interesting to see what happens when he gets his own TV show. I would predict cancellation before the end of the first series.



More Information

Fourth generation robot Nao

New Nao robot and $15 million investment

Aldebaran to open source Nao robot




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