The Actroid was designed to serve as a receptionist and an information booth attendant. She has an intensive AI geared towards question-and-answer sessions and resembles an attractive go-go dancer from outer space because, you know, she was designed by a Japanese guy.
She's primarily used for Japanese science and robotics conventions, and knows over 40,000 phrases in each of four different languages. She can respond 2,000 different ways to an infinite variety of questions which, because she's mostly at science and robotics conventions, have thus far only consisted of "Are you anatomically correct?" "Will you have sex with me?" "Can you have sex with people?" and finally "What about just handjobs?"
Why It's So, So Creepy
The Actroid is fairly tame on the creepy scale ... just as long as she remains immobile. She kind of resembles a high-end wax figurine of a big-boned Caucasian transvestite utterly failing to pass as a cute Asian girl, and that's not so bad. Nothing we wouldn't see on a typical business lunch with our fellow Cracked employees, anyway. It's when she starts moving that you get both barrels of the Uncanny Shotgun:
The disturbingly fluid movements punctuated by the jarring stops, the bizarre, puppet-like posturing and a facial expression that says, "I'm a hip, young, urban professional that hungers for the lives of your babies," creep us out exponentially.
And that's all before she starts rapping. Yes, apparently, she raps. Because everybody knows that sudden, unexpected free-styling in casual social situations is a surefire way to set even the most anxious soul at ease.
We honestly don't know what could possibly make us more uncomfortable than an Asian girl poorly rapping in response to an innocent question, but Japan does: An Asian tranny robot that looks like it want to eat human children in response to an innocent question.
WD-2 is a shape-shifting "Face-Bot" meant to simulate the subtle intricacies and nuances of human facial expressions. It operates under the theory that there are 17 key points of mobility in the human face, and that by lending greater versatility to these points, a robot can perfectly mimic the ever-changing expressions of the human face without appearing unnatural or disconcerting. The robot provokes a more human level of interaction by "driving a motorized shaft into the face and twisting at the desired point to create a convincing emotional response."
One can only hope, desperately, that they mean the shaft is driven into the robot's face, and not yours.
Why It's So, So Creepy
Watching a convincing mock-up of a human face shift bone structure, shape and size rapidly totally puts us at ease. It looks like there are dozens of small creatures burrowing just beneath its skin, and it couldn't be happier about it!
In addition to its unsettlingly convincing facial expressions, the WD-2 also features cold, dead eye-sockets, a sickly, inhuman paleness, and just a bit of a knowing smirk. For other examples of things sporting these features, please see every supernatural villain ever created:
But it actually gets worse from here! You see, the WD-2 not only mimics facial expressions, it also mimics specific faces. There is a 3-D scanner and projector located in the rear of the machine that copies the texture, skin tone and even hair style of people watching it. This data is then projected onto the face up front, which has since reconfigured itself to match the overall shape of your head.
After this process, the robot can then match your every movement on the fly--while speaking, laughing, yelling--anything. To put it more succinctly:
THIS ROBOT STEALS YOUR FUCKING FACE.
The CB2 is another project developed by the human-hating Professor Ishiguro at the Science and Technology Department of Japan's Osaka University. It's a 4-foot-tall, 100-pound baby with the physical and intellectual abilities of a 2-year-old. It was built with cameras for sight, microphones and speakers for speech and hearing, and over 200 tactile sensors to simulate a sense of touch and feeling. It was designed to ... facilitate human understanding ... of ... no, come on, what the fuck could this thing possibly be designed for?
There are zero practical uses, and the only thing it can teach you is acute horror. This robot was designed to say only one thing: Fuck you rest of the civilized world, love Japan.
Why It's So, So Creepy
It's a giant baby with the power of a robot.
Every single letter of that sentence is horrific. It looks like you defrosted a frozen infant in the microwave and then forgot about it for a few days. It has disproportionately giant, black eyes, like a shark. It has gray, baggy skin that hangs flaccidly from its bulging form, like a decomposing corpse.
It speaks in a cooing, infantile voice, asking you for love and attention and thanks to its advanced tactile, audio and visual sensors, it can stumble across the room after you if you don't respond. And here's Professor Ishiguro's research assistant, poking it in the Goddamn face again.
Listen, kid, we know you're probably an unpaid intern just trying to get some kicks out of an otherwise shitty situation, but could you just stop provoking the terrifying robots?
These things are built to respond to outside stimuli, and you do nothing but piss them off all day. If you don't heed our advice right quick, you may find yourself standing in a darkened lab, the other assistants having long since left for the day. The fluorescent lights in the hallway spill a wan illumination across the tile floors. You've forgotten your keys--again. You've been particularly absent minded lately. A blue light shines in the darkness. Ah, you've even forgotten to shut off the robots! You start towards the light, making your way by feel in the pale dusk of the dim office, but the light is gone. Or no ... it's just off to the left now. You locked the robots in the supply cage, didn't you? The light is closer now. You make out a form in the darkness, small and indistinct.
"Daddy," it coos. "Love me!"
Oh, it's just the CB2. You must've left the latch open. You really need to start getting more sleep.
"CB2, deactivate." Your voice seems unusually flat in this empty room.
"Daddy, love me!" It takes another staggering step forward.
"CB2 ... deactivate!" What's going on? Is the voice recognition software failing?
"Daddy ... LOVE ME!" The steps are quickening now, you turn to back away but another silhouette blocks the door behind you.
"Who's there? Oh! Professor, thank God! I think something's wrong with the CB2! Professor? Profe--"
"Oh no! No! This ... this can't be happening!"
"Stay back! Please, stay back! NO! NOOOOO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"
"A-ow ... ow, hey! Fuck! Ah, ow, stop! Stop, ow, quit ... QUIT POKING MY FACE!"
You can find more of Robert's stuff at IFightRobots.com.
If you liked that, check out Robert's look at five less-creepy robots that are nevertheless total assholes. Or enjoy his guest column from his blog I Fight Robots (noticing a man vs. machine theme in Robert's work?) that takes you through 5 Reasons GTA IV Is The Worst Great Game Ever Made.