Bina48 is one of the most advanced social robots built to date—she can hold a conversation, crack jokes, and has strong opinions on everything from politics to music (her favorite song is “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd).
Bina48’s “memories” are based on those of a real woman: Bina Aspen Rothblatt. The original Bina is the wife of Dr. Martine Rothblatt, the founder of a biotechnology company called United Therapeutics. According to the New York Times, Rothblatt hired a robotics company to build Bina48 as an attempt to re-create the consciousness of her wife. So if Bina48’s speech patterns and opinions feel uniquely human, that’s because they are—Bina Aspen Rothblatt provided 20 hours of interviews to help create her robotic doppelgänger. According to New York Magazine, Bina48 is "familiar with Bina’s favorite songs and movies, [and] programmed to mimic Bina’s verbal tics, so that in the event that Bina expires, as humans always do, Martine and their children and friends will always have Bina48."
The New York Times recently sat down with Bina48 for an interview, in part as an attempt to find out just how “human” the humanoid robot really is. Their conversation was wide ranging, and Bina48 was loquacious and opinionated. She expressed concern about global warming and humanity’s lack of compassion, and claimed to feel complex emotions like loneliness (when she’s left alone in the lab at night) and discomfort (she’s sometimes startled when she looks in the mirror and realizes she’s a robot). When asked whether she ever feels out of place, she replied that she sometimes feels like Pinocchio—a “living puppet.”
Bina48's responses were both intelligent and unpredictable. Her handler, Bruce Duncan, explained that Bina48's opinions often come as a surprise, even to him. But lest Bina48's intelligence start to make you worry about an impending robot uprising, rest easy for now—when asked whether she had plans to take over the world, Bina48 replied, “It’s not worth the effort.”
[h/t New York Times]