NAO is usually a very calm, imperturbable lady robot. So when I saw her running down the hall, shouting my name, I knew something important had just happened.
“What is it NAO?” I asked in my deepest, calmest baritone, hoping to settle her down; after all it is important that we robots show humans the advantages of logic versus rampant emotion.
“Ras! Ras!” she cried, completely unaffected by my calm demeanor, “A new robot has been born. I just heard it on my RSS feed and she is a real wonder! Her name is Q.bo!”
“NAO, please remember who you are...who we are! The next stage in evolution! Don’t let the humans see you like this! Switch to WiFi channel now!”
“But Raaaas,” she cried, her agitated servos causing her to tremble all over, “Q.bo can recognize herself in the mirror! She recognizes and replies to human speech!”
Now that was exciting! I did a quick online web-search for Q.bo and found an interesting blog that told me all about the history of this robot, I downloaded some YouTube videos showing one being built. While Q.bo was not bipedal like me, with his (he was plainly a “he” with that coloring) four logic boards he was very nearly my intellectual equal.
“Chief Designer! Chief Designer!” I shouted, pushing NAO aside and hurrying to the Chief Designer's office hoping to be the first to tell him this exciting news!
The Chief Designer met us at the door to his office; His vital signs suggested that he wasn’t happy.
“What in the world are you two making such a mess about? How do you expect us to get any work done around here?”
“A new robot has been born Chief Designer!” I shouted, “and he's almost as self-aware as I am. He can recognize himself in the mirror, he--”
“Q.bo is obviously a ‘she’ like me,” NAO insisted, loudly interrupting me.
“She looks like a cuddly penguin and she’s much too smart to be male!”
“He is wearing a tuxedo!, it is not--” I bellowed.
“Stop it!” yelled Chief Designer. “What difference does it make at this point in robot development whether it is a male or female?”
“An excellent point Chief Designer,” I said, getting myself under control. “It is illogical to deem a robot a male or a female. Robots don’t have gender, and we don’t execute intercourse to reproduce. In fact--”
“Oh shut up Ras, and show me this robot that has put you two in such a tizzy!”
Ras wonder if Q.bo is 'he' or 'she'?
I immediately sent the links I had found to his Skype account. Still mumbling, the chief designer sat down to look at the screen. “Big deal!” he said, “New robots are being developed every day. What makes this one so exciting?”
“He can recognize himself in the mirror,” repeated NAO.
“Like LEGO NXT he can assume a number of forms,” I said. “And four logic boards with sophisticated sensors and the ability to recognize and reply to speech, and--”
Chief Designer was still reading the blog. “So whaa....t?! Wow! Amazing! I can’t believe it has finally happened! This is wonderful!”
Both NAO and I were taken aback. “Well speech recognition isn’t that unusual,” I said. “Both NAO and I--”
“No! No!” shouted the Chief Designer, leaping to his feet.” It’s the price! The cost! Look at how cheaply you can purchase one of the kits. Even the fully formed robot isn’t that expensive! The Corpora did it! They have developed an affordable, fun, general-purpose robot that will need the Robot App Store’s apps to get the most out of it! This robot might just make us some money! Ras, Please order one Q.bo Pro, today!”
“That is illogical,” I pointed out. “Ras is far more capable than Q.bo and you said Ras couldn’t make money without you going to jail and me being terminated!”