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Marco Tempest and EDI at TED2014 (via TED & Marco Tempest)


Any fans of Artificial Intelligence films can validate the human fear that robots will one day overtake our world, when and if robots ever gain the capacity to think. One man expanded upon this theory and built a robot that mimics the human body gestures that he believes would make robots seem human. Meet Marco Tempest’s EDI.


EDI (pronounced Eddie) stands for Electronic Deceptive Intelligence. It is a robot created by Tempest, a techno-illusionist, that is meant to emulate humans in a way that develops trust. Tempest argues that humans build trust with one another based on a number of factors that include facial expressions and body language. If robots can exhibit faces and body movements similar to humans, they can gain our trust, although “deceptively.”


Tempest presented EDI at TED2014 as a concept. The robot is pretty box-like, but it does exhibit some realistic features, such as seven-axis arms, a 360-degree sonar detection system and a screen for a face, which can show different cartoon-like facial expressions. Tempest intended for the robot to be able to scan its surroundings, like a person, and execute an appropriate response – AKA, think.


Tempest has received a lot of criticism from people claiming that EDI is not technologically advanced enough to pull the wool over our eyes. Well, duh. Sure it’s no Robogirl aesthetically speaking, but if people catch the concept behind what Tempest is saying, we may need to reexamine our dependency on body language for character analysis as a society – or rather, consider how robot interactions would change.


While it is highly improbable that robots will ever exhibit creative or imaginative thought (or so we hope), what makes EDI’s “thought patterns” any different than our own? We see a stimulus and respond in one of a handful of ways, almost every time. If robots can mimic this pattern, they appear to us as predictable and trustworthy, according to Tempest. It is what he calls electronic deceptive intelligence.


Tempest also argues that technology in our world today is synonymous with magic, as it makes the impossible possible. A far stretch (depending on which philosopher you ask, of course), but what would happen if robots and humans became indistinguishable? Tempest, at the very least, is attempting to answer that question.



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