A robot with a political agenda? You should see his poker face

Robots with facial expressionsWould you be more apt to communicate with a robot if it made facial expressions? That's exactly what a university research team in Japan believes, and the team is well on the way to creating it. Take a look at the story on CNET Networks' "Japanese robot likes sushi, fears president."

Here's the lowdown:

Japan's latest robot, called Kansei and created by a university research team, can pull up to 36 different facial expressions based on a program which creates word associations from a self-updating online database of 500,000 keywords. The English keywords then trigger the most appropriate facial expression, which ranges from happiness to sadness, anger and fear.

As the title of the news story indicates, Kansei has a fairly common response when it hears the word "president."

When the robot hears the word "president," the online database picks up associated words such as "Bush," "war," and "Iraq" and creates an expression which the researchers said is meant to mix fear and disgust.

Do you agree with project leader Junichi Takeno, a professor at Meiji University's School of Science and Technology, that relevant facial expressions are "going to be a key to improving communication between humans and robots," or is this just a cutsie marketing ploy to help sell an expensive new gadget? Join the discussion.


Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox