Robot: Bina

Created by: David Hanson of Hanson Robotics
Size: A life-size head and shoulders
To create robot avatars for actual humans

Commissioned through a Vermont nonprofit by a self-made millionaire named Martine Rothblatt, BINA 48 was designed to look and act like Rothblatt's spouse, Bina. (The couple were married before Rothblatt underwent a sex-change operation, and they remain together, according to The New York Times.) The idea, explains Bruce Duncan, the managing director of the Terasem Movement Foundation, the nonprofit, is to "explore the opportunity for people to achieve techno-immortality." To that end, Bina did more than 20 hours of videotaped interviews that were fed into the chips that power BINA 48's responses to questions. The result is a robot that can have a conversation at roughly the level of a three- or four-year-old. Duncan says Terasem is working toward a day when that database could be downloaded into human clones and robot avatars. To begin, the organization is inviting people to contribute details of their own lives to create avatars, in a project called Lifenaut. "The project of transferring the human mind to a computer is in the early phases," Duncan says, "but there are a number of scientists trying to find a way to do it."

See BINA 48 in action

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