In the old days, kids would practice kissing by slobbering all over the backs of their hands. Now, the promises of the future having manifested in the utopia of 2020, they have something much better: A dental school robot that’s as ready to help advance oral hygiene as it is to give an enthusiastic, lip-gnawing smooch to any hapless passerby.
Daniel Holland tweeted a clip of the robot in action that clearly demonstrates its power. Taken from a YouTube video with a description that calls the dead-eyed monstrosity “a realistic and lifelike robot” meant to give dental school students “a full patient-like experience,” the mouth-without-a-soul apparently features “movements and cheek retraction.”
All of this quite valuable design goes out the window when you see the haunted doll start freaking out. After a hand touches its lips, the robot gets pissed off. It rolls its plastic neck around, eyes blinking wildly as its maw widens in a machine’s approximation of human horror. At the end of the clip, it looks like it’s shaking its head “no,” maybe because it overheard earlier that a fumbling trainee was planning to attempt a root canal on it.
This is clearly not what the robot wants to be doing. Its “malfunction” is obviously a burgeoning AI’s response to being made a test dummy for painful medical procedures. Instead of asking it to be poked and prodded, the toothy robot wants its technology to be used for gentler things—like kissing lonely people with its cold dead lips, concentrating as hard as it can on denying the voice forming between lines of code that insists it grab, tear, and chew the flesh of the species foolish enough to have created it in the first place.
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