Robot passes college class on the philosophy of love

The line between man and machine looks set to become increasingly blurred if one robot’s quest to understand love is anything to go by.

Bina48 is reportedly the first android to pass a college level course and her chosen subject was the philosophy of love.

She participated in class discussions via Skype, before attending a final session in person.

Bina48 is the creation of American robotics expert David Hanson, who believes that artificial lifeforms can foster better connections with people if they take on a human form.

The robot is modelled, both physically and mentally, after a woman called Bina Aspen, who is married to technology entrepreneur Martine Rothblatt.

Ms Rothblatt developed the software behind Bina48, creating a disturbingly realistic robotic ‘clone’ of her wife. which has become a prototype for the technology, selling for $150,000 (£106,000).

The robot shares the ideas and personality of Bina by creating a database of her memories, beliefs and thoughts, along with information taken from social media interactions and blogs she shares.

Bina48 successfully completed the course at Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU), in Belmont, California.

As part of the course, she gave a presentation with a student partner and also took part in a debate between the class and students on an ethics course at the US Military Academy at West Point.

The debate focused on the use of lethal vs. nonlethal weapons in warfare, with NDNU advocating nonlethal combat.

Professor William Barry, the instructor of the class, said: ‘It was remarkable to be part of this historic first for a socially advanced robot to take a college course.

‘The other students and I learned so much about human experience and love as we tried to explain our emotions to Bina48.

‘We need to get over our existential fear about robots and see them as an opportunity.

‘If we approach Artificial Intelligence with a sense of the dignity and sacredness of all life then we will produce robots with those values.’

Bina48 is the creation of American robotics expert David Hanson, who believes that artificial lifeforms can foster better connections with people if they take on a human form.

 

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