Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Pleo - Autonomy Made Adorable
Pictures, Videos, and more Information on Pleo.
After watching the Demo.com video of Pleo I slipped into deep thought over the most powerful trait that a toy or robot can have. That trait is the concept of autonomy. The primary dictionary definition of autonomy is:
- The condition or quality of being autonomous; independence.
The reason I am stressing this is as a preface to the wondrous feeling that came over me when I watched the Pleo video. When I started watching the video I had put on my skeptical technical hat. I sat with my arms crossed and an expression on my face that was the picture of carefully guarded optimism.
About the time the 2 minute and 45 second mark in the video rolled around, I caught myself in a strikingly different state of mind, right when you see Pleo playfully nipping and holding on to Caleb Chung's finger. My hands had dropped to my side, along with my jaw, and I was astonished to witness how my feelings had changed. I had completely suspended disbelief and realized I was watching the video not as a technically inclined adult, but as a child watching a Pixar movie that had brought my favorite fantasy pet to life. Except, this was no animation and the adorable cuddly creature in front of me was a real true-to-life three dimensional artificial life form named Pleo. I defy you to suppress the involuntary grin that will come over you when you watch Pleo's tail curl up as Caleb stroke it's lower back.
Being a manly macho kind of guy I soon, with difficulty, retracted my feelings and started reading once again about Pleo's legion of advanced sensor nets and evolutionary and revolutionary learning technologies. But I save the discussion of those features for another time. Because none of that will matter to you when you watch Pleo. The only thing that will matter is the irrepressible desire to pet it. Companies will argue for decades to come over who was the first company to produce a truly autonomous robot or artificial life form. But I think there will be no doubt that we will remember Pleo as the first artificial life form that made us believe it was autonomous.
More coming soon...