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If robots can act in lots of ways, how do people want them to act, happy or sad, bubbly or cranky?

Reporting on the recent conference on human-robot interaction in Salt Lake City, Henry Fountain of the New York Times tries to address the question what humans want in their robots and concludes that it is emotions like those they encounter in other humans.

“People respond to robots in precisely the same way they respond to people,” said Dr. Clifford Nass, a professor of communication at Stanford University.

A robot must have human emotions, said Christoph Bartneck of the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. That raises problems for developers, however, since emotions have to be modeled for the robot’s computer. “And we don’t really understand human emotions well enough to formalize them well,” he said.

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