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SUNDAY: Kansei, Japan’s emotional android

Japan Looks to a Robot Future

At a university lab in a Tokyo suburb, engineering students are wiring a rubbery robot face to simulate six basic expressions: anger, fear, sadness, happiness, surprise and disgust.

Hooked up to a database of words clustered by association, the robot — dubbed Kansei, or “sensibility” — responds to the word “war” by quivering in what looks like disgust and fear. It hears “love,” and its pink lips smile.

Dude, we’re not in the Uncanny Valley any more; researchers at Japan’s Robot and Science Institute are taking us for a stroll through the freaking Leatherface Valley with Kansei, a creepy new robot with a vocabulary of over 430,000 words that’s designed to react emotionally to whatever it’s discussing. If you’ve been waiting for a robot that can turn that frown upside down this is it — researchers have taught Kansei how to smile when it’s happy and frown when it’s sad by using word association software to build an artificial intelligence program that allows the bot to make judgements about whether it likes something or not.

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