Robots Teach Each Other to Sing, Argue About Who Is Off Key


robots sing

OK, so they don't argue yet. But here's a pretty snazzy experiment in cultural development involving warbling robots:

Eduardo Miranda shuts the door of his study, leaving two "warbling" robots to their own devices. He has programmed them to blurt out sequences of random notes, and two weeks later, he returns to find that the robots are still cooing in their eerily human voices, but they have now "evolved" to sing a repertoire of 20 sounds together.

The robots have microphones for ears and cameras for eyes. One makes a series of sounds based on the human voice, and the other does too. If the first robot judges the sounds to be similar, it nods its head and they both add the sounds to their repertoire. Thus they learn to make beautiful(ish) music together. 

Since only those sounds that both robots know about are recorded, gradually their memories fill up with similar sounds Miranda likens this to the emergence of a very simplistic, shared culture.

Feeling replaceable yet? No? How about these nano Obamas (nanobamas?) to convince you that the Singularity is Near?

NEXT: I Learned It From Shooting Prairie Dogs With You, Dad!

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. He has programmed them to blurt out sequences of random notes

    And it is said in the Holy Book: Hannah Montana is born unto us, and it is tweeny.

  2. aaaarrgh…the DAARPA funded robots that are supposed to be able to hunt “uncooperative domestic humans in teh woods” is much much more interesting than singing robots.

    robots to track humans

    don’t even give me credit…I just want people to see what we taxpayers are funding.

  3. “Feeling replaceable yet?”

    YET? I started feeling replaceable the moment they figured out how to make babies without men.

    Other than doing the jobs women won’t do, what are we good for (besides, ya know, being president)?

  4. gabe, your link doesn’t work

  5. Personally, I’m a fan of the dragonfly droids that will be keeping tabs on activists and agitators. What would be really cool is if those drones could hum “The Flight of the Valkyrie” as they fly … in unison. That way they’d be scary both in concept and practice, and well worth my tax dollars.

  6. The really frightening robot is the one that can consume organic matter (such as insects) for fuel….

    ….and in case you didn’t notice, Sky Net (aka the internet) is already hooked up.

  7. I vote for replacing Barack Obama with Nano Obama! Same good looks without all that Executive tyranny.

  8. Read The Tin Men by Michael Frayn. Identical experiment, except they were boxing, not singing.

  9. The robots have microphones for ears and cameras for eyes.

    Come on. You know you want me.
    I may be a bot, but I can sing, and The Mouse says I’ll rule some day.

    Bow to me!

  10. I’m waiting for The Jack. Plug me in. Bring it on!

  11. Gabe! Is that shit real? I would freak the fuck out if I saw that thing around town!

  12. Oh, and . . . DOES NOT COMPUTE!

  13. IIRC, the Big Dog is intended as an all-terrain cargo hauler, not a hunter-killer. But that’s not to say DARPA doesn’t have HKs in development. And of course the Predator drones have already been used in that capacity, though they still require human operators.

  14. Hmmmmm . . . it’s cool for now then. I intend to side with the robots during the Great Robot Uprising anyway. Don’t expect any mercy during the robot rebellion fleshbags!

  15. Oh, holy Spaghetti Monster, we worhsip thee, we praise thee, while we wait in perfect faith for the coming of the Singularity.

  16. Jesus. How could we have been so stupid? I see the Nanobama and realize that the Libertarian Party missed a hellacious opportunity. Let me explain: Liberty is pass?. No one cares about that anymore. However, nanotechnology is tres chic. By renaming itself the Nanotarian Party, the LP would’ve taken the White House and Congress!

    Not only does the name covey smallness (as in small government), it also carries the connotation of advanced technology, which appeals to people across the political spectrum.

    Nanotarians of the world unite! Let’s get small!

  17. Pro Lib you are a romantic at heart. To believe that most voters even know what nanotechnology means shows your compassion for the human race.

  18. He did all that just to get two computers to mutually select twenty random pieces of data? Sounds more like a conceptual art piece than an experiment.

  19. I’m with Naga. I, for two, welcome our beautiful(ish) singing robotic overlords.

    As long as they refrain (pun slightly intended) from the Reasonesque prog-rock shilling.

  20. This early test of the Big Dog quadripedal robot is amazing:

  21. Naga,

    I agree that the general public doesn’t understand nanotechnology; however, nano this and nano that are all over the marketing world. I see it used with products my company sells all the time. It’s kind of like “Atomo” in the 50s.

  22. The article in new scientist magazine puts the nature of the pentagons desires into perspective.

    Multi-Robot Pursuit System

  23. oh god, we’re fucked

  24. Wouldn’t it be adorable if they actually did argue about who was off-key? Little beeps and chirps and then when things got testy they might bump each other somewhat roughly?

    Seriously though, we better figure out how to genetically engineer better humans before robots pass us.

  25. Stevo Darkly – Lulz @ the video; awesome find!

    On a more serious note, I get the concerns about a malfunctioning ED 209 blowing away unarmed civilians, but is that really any worse than the all too human police abuses that pile up on H&R every day?

  26. I think we should replace the presidential debates with those two robots yapping at each other.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.