Facebookers could soon receive a rather strange friend request from a new kind of “friend”, a robot.
Researchers from the Interactive Robots and Media Lab (IRML) at the University of the United Arab Emirates are giving a robot its own Facebook profile page to explore human-robot relationships.
While robots that interact with people are not a new concept, research implies that humans grow bored after a few weeks as the behavioral catalog of the robot is explored fully.
Dr. Nikolaos Mavridis, Lab director at IRML and the creator of the idea, said he hopes the existence of social network pages for robots will help humans maintain interest in the machines.
So exactly will the robots interact with humans on Facebook?
The robot has three software modules that aid it human interaction. One module distinguishes faces of humans and the pictures they post on Facebook.
A language module allows the machine to have real-time discussions and helps it continue a catalog of its friends and their data on Facebook. This allows it to maintain its own Facebook profile. It also has a supplementary range finder, touch screen and stereo camera.
The robot will create a personal entry for itself in Facebook. Upon meeting a human it has not encountered before, it will ask for his/her name, and search for him in Facebook. Upon finding him, the human's Facebook entries (age, home town, profession) will serve as a starting point for simple dialogs, according to the IRML site.
The robot is named and modeled after Arabic scholar Ibn Sina aka Avicenna. The robots interactions with humans will be logged on its Facebook profile.
Upon further future encounters, the robot will also use memories from past encounters with the human as a point of conversation ('remember last Sunday when...'), according to IRML.
As the human and the robot are embedded in a social web, possible co-acquaintances between the robot and the human will be exploited too: encounters with and / or information about mutual friends will also be used: ('I saw Michael yesterday').