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Chapter 2. Robot Evolution > Domestic Robots

Domestic Robots

Just as nearly every robot engineer and pundit has a slightly different theory about which robot evolutionary path will be taken in the end, they also have different takes on where and how the first permanent settlement of robo-kind will be established. On the battlefield? In the corporate office? In every nook and cranny where humans fear to tread (toxic waste dumps, inside volcanoes)? In the gladiator arena? How about your living room?

Robo-Pets

Sometimes it comes out of nowhere. Who would have thought that Furby, a big-eyed mechanized fuzzball, would become history’s first household robot. In the winter of 1998, otherwise reasonable adult humans went feral over Furby, rushing toy store shelves to scoop up limited quantities of the interactive doll. Furby was ingeniously designed, with simple sensors under its fur, and a motor that animated its eyes and mouth. It didn’t learn, but it gave the impression of learning by using a clock timer in its microcontroller brain to create seemingly random behaviors, unique personality quirks (every Furby was different), and speaking skills that appeared to improve over time. Legions of Furby owners, both children and adults, were awestruck by the apparent sophistication of the critter, ascribing to it all sorts of lifelike behaviors it did not possess. And, just when the proverbial fur was settling over Furby, in scampered AIBO.


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