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Robot Kansei Gets In Touch With Its Emotions

It is able to frown or smile according to a flow of artificial consciousness
By: Alina Plesu, Technology and Science Editor 

Expressing feelings is something not even all humans are entirely capable of.
And now a humanoid robot named Kansei is able to frown or smile according to a flow of artificial consciousness.

Kansei's ability to communicate feelings makes it one step closer to recognizing when humans are happy or sad, an important characteristic for machines expected to one day help care for the elderly, clean house, or greet people at a reception desk.

Kansei, which stands for "sensibility" and "emotion" in Japanese, also contains speech recognition software, a speaker to vocalize, and motors that contort artificial skin on its face into expressions. The robot could even one day learn to distinguish and articulate whether foods taste good or bad.

Takeno and his team built a software program that extracts word associations from a database of 430,000 words, in order to give Kansei an artificial consciousness. The word database was built from sentences gleaned from the Internet, which is a type of large-scale, convenient and constantly updated database in itself.

The software program then assigns values to the world associations, calculates the values, and then prompts the robot to express whether something is pleasant or unpleasant based on the value.

Its program will produce both negative and positive values. But after everything is calculated, if the negative values are greater than the positive, Kansei will frown. If the positive values are greater, Kansei will smile.

"Kansei is a comprehensive concept useful for the design of human interface. It includes sensibility, sensitivity, feeling and emotion," said Shigeki Sugano, professor of mechanical engineering at Waseda University in Tokyo and an expert in humanoid robots.

Well, I guess that kind of brings Data this side of the screen, so Star Trek is more science and less fiction these days...