Our relationship with machines (and with computers, their less brawny cousins) gets closer with every passing year, and for some decades now we have been coming to terms with the idea that we may one day develop emotional relationships with advanced versions of them, much as we do with life forms like dogs and cats. At the same time we have begun to understand that bonds are built as much on physical acts like touching, and on the emotions they trigger and modulate, as on intellectual acts like conversation.
Nicholas Stedman‘s “ADB” — a snake-like robot whose acronym stands for “After Deep Blue”, the IBM supercomputer that famously defeated chess grand master Garry Kasparov in 1997 — is particularly interesting in this regard. Inspired by Karl Sims “Evolved Virtual Creatures” (exhibited at SIGGRAPH in 1994), ADB senses touch and seeks greater contact with the toucher, which has its human handlers cradling it like a baby. Read more on the development of ADB on Stedman’s blog.