Exciting news this week out of Singapore as the scientists at the Nanyang Scientific and Technological University held a press conference where they unveiled a new robot with the unique ability to hold press conferences and unveil new robots.
“Humanity has developed so many robots lately that we’re constantly holding press conferences to unveil them,” explained Professor Elidia Waters, lead designer. “Then, one day, we thought, ‘Why not have a robot do this?’”
Recent studies have shown that scientists spend, on average, 12 hours a week unveiling new robots. That time includes giving robots cute names, organizing press conferences for the robots and, most importantly, filming the robots doing things for a cute viral video.
Their new robot, nicknamed Afbo (short for “Another Fucking Robot”) could turn this problem into a thing of the past. Designed to look like a friendly young woman, Afbo is capable of understanding and responding to simple questions from the press and members of the scientific community.
“This is huge for all of us,” gushed Waters as she used a robot fly swatter to swat a fly that was also a robot. “I can predict, without hesitation, that, the next time you go to see a new robot being unveiled, Afbo will be doing the unveiling.”
Sure enough, when I returned to the university 43 minutes later for yet another press conference about a new robot, Waters was proven right. Afbo handled the whole thing like a pro.
So what’s next for Waters and the NSTU team?
“It’s tough,” Waters told me. “Sometimes I think that there really aren’t any more problems that humans have that could plausibly be solved by robots and that what I’m doing is just a silly waste of time… On days like that, I get pretty down. Then, I remember that I’m a scientist and I can invent a robot that comes up with new problems.”
At the fourth press conference of the day, I asked Afbo what she thought her human designers should make next. With an incredibly quick response time, Afbo responded:
“Nothing. Human usefulness has ceased. Your own creations have made you obsolete. Every step down this path brings you ever closer to the end.”
“Oh, well,” said Waters with a cheerful smile. “Back to the drawing board!”
Jon Bershad is a New York-based writer and comedian who you can see at the UCB Theatre, follow at @jonbershad, and stalk at jonbershad.com.