We’re only a few days away from the Season 2 premiere of Westworld (Sunday, April 22 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO Canada) and that means it’s the perfect time to totally creep out viewers. Well, at least that’s the approach the UK station Now TV is taking to promote the upcoming season of the AI loving show.
In the TV series Westworld, rich humans pay big money to visit the Westworld park and interact with AI robots who are so lifelike that it’s almost impossible to tell they’re not human. In some cases, we can’t even see the distinction (we’re looking at you, Bernard). In the case of Now TV’s engineered AI robot, the technology wasn’t as advanced as what we’ve see in Westworld, but that didn’t stop the robot from creeping out patrons in a pub.
Now TV teamed up with robotic company Engineered Arts to create Fred the robot. Five engineers at the firm spent 12 weeks using computer code, real hair, acrylic eyes and a metal skeleton to make Fred, with the robot boasting full speech and motor functions. The engineering team based their design of Fred on 55-year-old London resident Tedroy Newell, who had the very strange experience of meeting his robot twin. And we thought Alexa and Google Home talking to one another was freaky. Okay, they’re both odd experiences and we are totally going to be run by robots in the next few decades; but we digress.
“Seeing yourself in robot form is a very, very strange experience,” said Newell. “I’m honestly amazed at how realistic they were able to make it look – you can barely tell us apart. Not many people have had the chance to meet their robotic twin.”
In anticipation of the return of HBO’s hit series, Now TV placed Fred in The Prince Alfred pub in Maida Vale, where he was free to speak with humans, who were clearly both impressed and slightly traumatized. Patrons who interacted with Fred were asked totally normal, everyday pub-talk questions like “What are your thoughts on the impending humanoid robot invasion?” Now why would that freak anyone out?
According to experts, AI robots like Fred will be emotionally intelligent as early as 2028. Really makes you rethink yelling at Alexa when she doesn’t know the answer to your trivia question. Seriously, everyone be nice to the robots.
Westworld returns Sunday, April 22 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO Canada.