It seems as though researchers from Osaka University in Japan haven’t learnt from movies like Blade Runner, The Terminator, or I, Robot because they’ve just created a hyper-realistic child robot capable of reacting to pain from an electrical charge applied to its skin.
The group of researchers programmed their robot, named Affetto, to gasp and wince ‘in pain’ when an electrical current is sent through its artificial skin. They’ve programmed the robot to visibly display the feeling of pain with the hopes that it will instil empathy when it comes to artificial intelligence, science and technology.
Another reason researchers programmed a pain response into Affetto is to develop a quick and easy way for humans to recognize if their ‘robot helper’ is about to experience a failure. What this means is that if you task your robot helper to do some heavy lifting, for example, the robot could make grunting sounds and straining facial expressions when an object is too heavy for its load capacity, or just before it’s about to fail. A warning beep is easy to ignore, whereas hearing or seeing or hearing pain would elicit a much quicker and sympathetic response from humans.
Affetto has been in development since 2012, and started life out as nothing more than just a hairless, animatronic doll, with its life-like features being added in 2018. Along with feeling pain, Affetto is able to display real-looking facial expressions and react to touches by either smiling, grimacing, or frowning.
Watch as Affetto winces in pain as researchers repeatedly shock him.