Alive Enough

  • The Scaredy Crab brings attention to a highly debated argument when it comes to animals and their grasp on conciseness. This project takes this issue one step further, challenging a robot to trick the user into believing it has conciseness. In order to trigger empathy from the user, The Scaredy Crab reacts to the threat of physical abuse. The Scaredy Crab is easy to relate to because it plays on two different emotions that humans commonly feel: joy and fear. 

    This robot's behavior is partially based off a The Scaredy Crab's. It has a shell and scurries around obstacles as a The Scaredy Crab would. The user gets attached to the playful side of this robot, but when they accidentally appear to be stepping on it or threatening it in any physical way, the robot scurries away as an actual animal would. This robot is made with 2 sets triangular wheels going each way, allowing it to switch directions and play around the user. The robot has a sensor attached to the front to direct it and another attached to the body to detect any physical threats. The The Scaredy Crab causes the user to emotionally attach to the robot and realize how quickly humans can feels empathic toward something that isn't even human.

  • We are making a robot that mimics human characteristics within an interaction, especially when reacting to abuse. The device is supposed to trick the people who have it, that it has some sort of consciousness and for them to create an emotional attachment to it. The robot will also act like a human and respond to a certain type of abuse in a way that people would. The idea for the mediator came to me the second the topic was proposed and I had the vision for something that I thought could be special. I immediately began to formulate an entire plan and vision for the project, with a dream for everything this could do. I not only wanted it to react to abuse and be cool, but also help people and benefit others in a way I believe in significantly. The entire thesis was for the mediator to regulate a fight, reacting when the volume and tone of voice was too loud around it. When hearing this it would first cuddle up and almost protect itself, but then quickly become restless and begin to slam its fists on the table, quieting with a loud noise and aggression. My least favorite image, when thinking this through, was a young child sitting there and witnessing his or her parents fight, helpless and feeling alone. The robot would try to appeal tho this empathy and make people more aware of their surroundings, as they will realize that if they make the robot feel a certain way, it is probably the same for the people around them. Although, will become firm and get them to quite by action and almost scold them. This will almost act as a way to help people love more, fight less, and control themselves when angry. My vision was also that it would create relief for a child who is going through a horrible situation like that and will have someone/thing who is feeling the same emotion and is there for them. It will change the way people fight and interact and hopefully help teach people and improve their actions through the power of love and empathy. What is wood, with moving head and arms, will hopefully be able to improve one of the biggest problem in the world, hatred.

  • EmotaBot is robot that evokes empathy in users by reacting to neglect in a way that imitates conciousness.

    In the developing world of AI (Artificial Intelligence) the concept of conciousness is a prominant topic of discussion. The question everyone is asking is "can machines have conciousness?." Unfortunately, the answer isn't so simple; conciousness is defined by many different abilities and cannot just be measured as a binary answer. For our project, we were tasked with reproducing some of these defining abilities in order to give our robot the appearance of conciousness; specifically its ability to react to abuse. When placed in a confined space, the robot will become increasingly uncomfortable, until it becomes completely panicked. Throughout the process, it expresses its grief with a series of movements and changes in expression. This scenerio is inspired by pet neglect. Pets are often left in their carts/cages by their owners when they become too burensome. We wanted to recreate this situation because we were interested in the passivity of this kind of abuse.

    Our project is a spherical bot with an ultrasonic sensor to evaluate its surroundings. It rotates 360 degrees on a stepper and the face moves up and down on a servo. In addition, the face has two micro servos above the eyes for eyebrows, giving it the ability to emulate facial expressions. Our robot is entirely 3D printed with lasercut acrylic circles placed over the outer shell of the bot in order to let an RGB LED shine through. The light will be yet another indicator of the robot's mood.

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  • Artificial intelligence is becoming ubiquitous in today's society from the factory floor to our homes. Sometimes learnt and others hardcoded, the intelligence that informs the behavior of devices such as self driving cars, toys or nursebots functions in a narrow, pre-defined domain. "Alive Enough" is an exploration of what makes something conscious and why us thinking that something is conscious has an effect on us when we interact with it. 

    As a way of exploring what consciousness is, we will have class discussions and assign nightly readings and videos. We will also have expert, Freedom Baird, speak with the class. Students will then design and fabricate a robot that in some way makes "us" think that it is conscious. These robots will respond in some way to physical abuse, e.g., pinching, being held upside down, yelled at etc. as a way of understanding how a toy's response to this abuse creates an effect on the user/abuser.

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