The Machine Nurturer

Walk into room 922 of the artificial intelligence lab at M.I.T., and you may notice a winsome robot in the corner trying desperately to get your attention. When Kismet is lonely and spots a human, it cranes its head forward plaintively. It flaps its pink paper ears and vocalizes excitedly in a babylike patter. Kismet's handlers call this an "attention-getting display." You would have to have a heart of stone to ignore this cute little aluminum...thing.

From a physical standpoint, Kismet isn't much of a robot. It can't walk and grab things, as many robots today can. It doesn't even have...

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