Earlier this year, the International Space Station received a new "crew member": CIMON (Crew Interactive Mobile Companion), an interactive AI assistant who can float around in the station and help answer questions from astronauts – something like that like a specialized space crossing between Amazon's Alexa and Microsoft's Clippy.
But CIMON's debut, featured in a new European Space Agency video, shows early interaction with the space robot is exactly the same as any science fiction film about Gizmodo prepared for acceptance.
The idea behind CIMON is harmless. Developed by IBM in conjunction with Airbus, the robot was designed with two functions: helping astronauts with their tasks; For example, visual walkthroughs for partial installations (as in an Amazon Echo show may indicate the direction of the recipe), which seems reasonable enough and can accompany astronauts with them in the solitude of space that the creepy part creeps into ,
According to IBM: "CIMON also has the language capabilities of C-3PO, the conversational skills of Marvin (from the series Hitchhiker's Guide ), the cuteness of Wall-E, and the technical know-how -how from HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey – You know, without the bad part, "which makes it all a bit disturbing. Matthias Biniok, the team leader at IBM, apparently saw 2001: A Space Odyssey that "this will be a big problem" and then still programmed a space bot that would deny the opening of Pod Bay doors if asked (according to IBM site this is a real easter egg).
And as seen in the video, the first questions of the astronaut Alexander Gerst go well enough. But after playing a music stream, CIMON was hung up a bit: "I love music, you can dance." Gerst's attempts to persuade CIMON to continue were similarly rejected: "I understand that you're the music I like that, I understand that.
The spherical robot then accused Gerst of not being nice. "Do not you like it here with me? Do not be so mean, please. "In a kind of flat, emotionless tone that is supposed to come before he feels and starts singing" Daisy, daisy … "
CIMON was programmed to recognize and express Gerst's emotions Personality that would identify the German astronaut and talk to him. Although researchers working on the project hailed the 90-minute meeting as a success, CIMON's conversational skills may well require some work. Unfortunately, there is not much time left for more practice. Gerst will return to Earth next month while CIMON will stay at the space station.
Finally, Gerst and CIMON managed to get along, at least so much that Gerst CIMON could bring it to stop the video recording and seemingly to stop the destruction of humanity – at least for another day.