There are plenty of issues to think about when designing robots, but I'd bet not many people working in robotics think about how to make sure their robots have social skills. The NY Times is running an interesting interview with Dr. Cynthia L. Breazeal who is the author of Designing Sociable Robots, a book on this very topic. She's also displaying a bunch of robotic flowers that respond to the humans around them at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York. For all the Star Wars geeks, you'll be happy to know that she claims she was inspired by R2D2 and C3PO. One interesting point she makes is that her work in making robots sociable has actually made her learn a lot more about how humans interact than how to make robots sociable. Of course, that's pretty much the same thing that Will Wright set out to do a few months back with his very simple robot.
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