A Nice Gesture by Jeroen Arendsen

A Nice Gesture by Jeroen Arendsen

A mix of posts on gesture, HCI, perception or robots and some personal information.

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Furry Things that Purr are not Robots


It purrs, it’s furry, and a bad example of a ‘robot’.

In the words of Wowwee, the creators of these cuddly toys:

WowWee Alive™ Cubs are life-like, huggable baby animals that feature plush bodies and animated facial and vocal expressions triggered by users’ touch. Forget trudging through a bamboo jungle or embarking on a safari to catch a glimpse of these wild animals — now, children and animal-lovers alike can nurture a lovable WowWee Alive Lion Cub, Panda Cub, Polar Bear Cub, and White Tiger Cub in their very own living rooms.

Is it important whether kids or other people call these Cubs robots or not? No, not really. But once in a while I feel the need to draw some lines in the dust. And for my definitions I like to follow categories that come naturally to the perception of the innocent. Therefore, if we ask ourselves ‘what are robots’, a good answer would be ‘the things that are called robots by kids’. Any category of objects has fuzzy boundaries (e.g. see Rosch, 1978, and Wittgenstein), yet some cases (examples) are more prototypical for the category than others. In this case we could say that a Cub might be considered a ‘robot tiger cub’ (a good case of ‘robot pets’, under ‘robots’…) but certainly not a prototypical ‘robot’.

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