Albert Hubo is a robot with a face modeled on Albert Einstein. Credit: Hanson Robotics

I am an admirer of Albert Einstein and there are a good number of references to him on this site. I would have loved to have met him and be able to have a conversation with him. But I don’t know how I would feel about talking to a robot version of him.

That is possible since a recent Google patent describes robot personalities based upon the voices and behaviors of dead celebrities or loved ones. The patent is about robot personalities as software that could be transferred between different robots online. They could be famous people or personalities customized to your preferences.

of human users. That lays the groundwork for a future where robotic hardware could update and switch their software personalities based on the specific human customers they’re serving.

These artificial personalities that mimic the dead aren’t all robots. You probably have seen John Wayne seeming to sell Coors Light commercials or Fred Astaire dancing with a Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner or Audrey Hepburn and Bruce Lee resurrected as digital avatars in TV commercials.

But have you heard of the “uncanny valley?” It’s that place where human-like figures (in animated films or robotics) feel creepy because they are too close to real. Have you seen that creepy zombielike digital avatar of the late Orville Redenbacher?

Then again, this commercial using a digital avatar of actress Audrey Hepburn to promote Galaxy/Dove chocolate had me thinking it was a really good lookalike doing the commercial. It is actually done with computer graphics(CGI) of Audrey’s actual face superimposed over a live model. A computerized Audrey mask.

Are you ready for the dead to return in robotic form?

 

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