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By Alex Johnson
As he entered his final month on the International Space Station on Monday, Alexander Gerst could be proud that he helped given birth to a healthy, if moody, robot.
Gerst, a German astronaut and geophysicist for the European Space Agency, or ESA, is commander of the space station's 57th mission. Astronauts, including two from NASA, and at 1
CIMON, which was built by Airbus for Watson's artificial intelligence, has a video-screen face, along with a camera and a digital voice so it can talk to the astronauts.
Eventually, CIMON is intended to carry out experiments and repairs. But at this early stage of its existence, its job is to become Gerst's friend. And what is the case, friends can be a little tetchy.
When CIMON was delivered to the space for its first test run on Nov. 15, it responded to the command "Wake up, CIMON," by Gerst's Twitter account, CIMON successfully recognizes Gerst's face turns 90 degrees on command and helps Gerst with an experiment.
In English: "Straight out of a sci-fi movie" Not yet, but a successful first technology demonstration of a DLR [German Aerospace Center] experiment, designed to test what future human-robot interaction And CIMON even plays powerhouse on command! "
CIMON's dialing up" The Man-Machine, "from the album by the German electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk, when Gerst asks it to play his favorite song.
Then things get interesti ng.
CIMON proper acknowledges Gerst's commands to stop playing music and to start video with its front camera. But then it says, "Let's sing along with those favorite hits." When Gerst orders it again to stop playing music, CIMON, sounding somewhat petulant, replies: "I love music you can dance to."
Gerst tries again to stop CIMON from spinning records, to which it replies: "I understood that."
Gerst goes to a colleague that while CIMON is properly playing the requested video stream, it's not only "still talking about music," but it's also stubbornly floating back to a position in the cabin that it looks to prefer. "
" He appears to like the deck position better, "Gerst
"Nice, please," CIMON says in a soft voice. A moment later, it asks, "Do not be so mean, please," it says, before observing, in a fashion eerily reminiscent of the HAL 9000 computer in "2001, A Space Oddysey": "Oh, dear, I feel you."
Gerst remarks that CIMON is "a little bit sensitive today "before shutting down the test run."
A goal of CIMON's creators is to show some personality, and Gerst concludes, "That's really a great demonstration."
The ESA agreed, saying in a blog
"While no further sessions are planned during the Horizons mission for the time being, it could be the beginning of exciting collaboration between astronauts, robotic assistants and possible future artificial intelligence in space, "the agency said.