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Japanese prof thinks robots need emotional sensibilities

Aside from providing the world with great gadgets, entertainment devices and robots -- the Japanese have now answered the question that every robot enthusiast since Isaac Asimov has been trying to answer: how do we improve robot-humanoid interaction? Professor Shuji Hashimoto, director of the humanoid robotics centre at Waseda University in Tokyo, has a theory: robots need a solid dose of those Japanese manners (don't we all?) encompassed in the Japanese word kansei, which includes feelings, mood, intuitiveness and sensibility. Hashimoto spoke to a conference on "socially intelligent robots" at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield, UK last week, saying that "Robots are going to need similar emotional capabilities if they are to cooperate smoothly and flexibly with humans in our residential environments." How would that translate from the theoretical academic ivory tower to the living room lab of a domesticated robot? According to NewScientist, who covered Hashimoto's UK talk, "if a robot's owner is sweating and has a racing pulse, say, the robot will sense this and decide that now might not be the time to offer them the TV guide or tonight's dinner menu." Still, we're sure that Hashimoto wasn't talking smack about our new favorite polite robot, the EMIEW -- otherwise we might have to sic a legion of BEAR robots on him.

[Thanks, Matt]