Scientists Developing Robots That Are Ironic, Funny

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Scientists Developing Robots That Are Ironic, Funny

It was a Tuesday night at New York’s People’s Improv Theater, otherwise known as the PIT, the improv incubator that has launched comedians like Hannibal Buress and Kristen Schaal. The audience was filled with tech folks. Improv and tech don’t often intersect, but Google engineer Brandon Diamond’s new show Comedybots, in which engineers build robots to participate in improv, had pulled the tech people out of their dimly lit coding caves and into the PIT.  

The team performed two montages, improv-speak for a scene based on an audience suggestion, and a life-size, silver, goggly-eyed robot performed along with them. It occasionally fell off the robotic platform it was wheeled in on, but that just made it funnier.

“The next level of human-robot interfacing is relatability,” Diamond told The Daily Beast.

Research shows that people tend to be afraid of robots, mainly out of concern for a future where robots occupy positions that once belonged to people.The latest McKinsey report, all doom and gloom, warned women that robots could put 160 million of them out of a job if they don’t re-skill as soon as possible. One Baylor University study found that American society has a growing population of technophobes, people afraid of one day losing their jobs to robots.