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Carnegie Mellon Robot Invites Humans to Play Mean Game of Scrabble

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Victor the gamebot plays Scrabble with students at Carnegies Mellon University.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a social robot designed to help scientists understand what it will be required for people to enjoy interacting with a robot.

Credit: Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers have developed Victor, a social robot that was designed to help scientists better understand what it takes to get people to enjoy interacting with a robot.

"We believe that for autonomous robots to be accepted, they will have to conform to the social conventions of people, rather than the other way around," says CMU professor Reid Simmons.

Victor features a torso topped with a mobile head on which a video screen displays his animated face. Victor currently resides in the CMU student lounge and challenges people to games of Scrabble.

The researchers are studying whether changes in mood or emotions affect the desire to interact with robots and how personalization might affect the willingness to interact over time.

The researchers say they gave Victor a personality designed to encourage human players to interact with it. Simmons says the robot's personality is "edgy enough to be engaging, but not so much that people don’t want to play." He notes they made sure that Victor is not a strategic player, avoiding double- and triple-word scores and only using an 8,600-word vocabulary, instead of the entire Scrabble dictionary, which contains 178,000 words.

From Carnegie Mellon News (PA)
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