Watch IBM’s Watson-powered robot bust a move — and sing

IBM’s Watson just gave doing the robot a whole new twist. While dancing has never been a forte of machines, IBM’s artificial intelligence system is proving that robots really can have fun (even if it has to be programmed in). In a demo presented during Nvidia’s GTU technology conference, IBM Watson’s chief technology officer, Rob High, showed off a concierge robot named Watson Nao, whose many talents include singing and dancing — all in an attempt to humanize these humanoids. 

The multi-lingual robot is powered by IBM Watson, and the AI has come a long way since winning Jeopardy back in 2011. Now, Watson is on a mission to show that it’s more than just a super impressive brain — it’s kinda like you and me, too! Nao currently serves as a miniature concierge at a few lucky Hilton hotels, where it’s helping answer guests’ questions. And of course, also serve as a source of entertainment.

If you ask Nao to sing, the robot happily obliges (though perhaps it shouldn’t). Taking a page out of the queen of country-pop’s song book, Nao squeaks out a bit of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” and even emulates some of her famously awkward dance moves (though we maintain that Nao still has nothing on Ms. Swift). The performance comes complete with theatrical head tilts and sweeping arm gestures.

Of course, outside of its questionable singing and dancing skills, the robot is a pretty impressive feat in AI. Unlike other automated assistants, you can ask Nao whatever you want, however you want. Thanks to its highly developed speech recognition software, this robot has an advanced understanding of normal human speech patterns. This means that you can have slightly more natural conversations with Nao than you would be able to with other robots, though you’d still only be able to ask questions if you want to elicit a response.

But who knows — now that robots are singing and dancing, there may be no end to Watson’s possibilities.

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