Imagine if you could download your personality into a robot’s brain and then have it go on living even after you’ve died. That’s the idea behind Bina48, a robot that lives in a house in Vermont and converses with people in sometimes startling fashion. EndGadget was so enthralled they say that Bina is one robot you’d really want to hang out with. CNET is a little less impressed wondering if preserving a person’s personality is really that great of an idea. Mail Online thinks it is and imagines all of us one day being able to sit down with a likeness of and have conversations with notable people such as Abraham Lincoln or Mother Teresa. Bina48 can be seen in action in a video interview posted on YouTube by the New York Times.
Bina48, EndGadget explains, is the brainchild of David Hanson of Hanson Robotics, a company that gained some renown last year when a video of one of its robots, a facsimile of Albert Einstein, went viral. He resides in an old fashioned home in rural Vermont and that’s where he works on Bina48, who calls herself simply Bina. The personality behind the robot was gleaned from a real live person named Bina Rothblatt, who is still living and agreed to provide as much personal history as is conceivably possible. Thus, Bina48 has the same history as the real Bina, up to the point where their histories diverge of course. In addition to supplying facts about events in her life, Ms. Rothblatt also provided her views on things, feelings about experiences and other bits of information that people amass over a lifetime, go here now.
CNET notes that the idea of downloading a human personality has been around as long as people have written science fiction. Though in such stories, the idea is to move the entire conscious entity that exists in our brains, thus transferring the person, as it were, not just reams of data. Still, as can be seen in the video, Bina is clearly capable of coming up with remarks that catch people off guard, causing them to forget they’re talking to a machine, not a real person. That fact is bolstered by the fact that she doesn’t have a body, she’s simply an animated bust that speaks and responds as anyone else would that was forever stuck in a single spot on a tabletop.
Equally noticeable when watching and listening to Bina are the obvious lapses in conversation threads, which serve to remind us all that though we’ve come a long way in making robots ever more humanlike, we still have some way to go before they really could be confused with the real thing.