Boxie, created by Alexander Reben at MIT Media Lab

Isn’t Boxie adorable? Don’t you want to sit him down at the kitchen table and feed him milk and cookies?

MIT Media Lab knows you do. Boxie’s cuteness is allied to his purpose. The Lab describes him this way: “Boxie is a mobile interactive robotic camera built with the goal of actively capturing stories about its environment and the people within it.”

In other words: “Tell me a story!”

John Pavlus, a writer and filmmaker who focuses on science, tech, and design topics, blogged about Boxie:

Simply being cute allows Boxie to “offload” a lot of the complicated aspects of initiating and sustaining an interaction onto its human target. It’s an utterly brilliant bit of interaction design that makes an end run around the “hard problems” of robotics and artificial intelligence, not to mention some practical issues of industrial engineering.

You can see a video of Boxie in action here. Trust me: You do want to see this video.

6 comments on “Cute

  1. I watched the video. Boxie is an ingenious invention!

  2. NancyElla says:

    I love Boxie! Boxie was pretty cute when he was just rolling around, but when the voice started…oh, cuteness squared! But was kind of deeply damaged human could dislike Boxie and treat Boxie roughly?

    • I wondered about that myself.


    • Well, I have to ask: would an investigator from the IRS using such an interface remain as cute in many people’s eyes for very long…?

      And my AOL sign-on page bombards me with images of people getting hostile and rough with their no less cute PC in an effort to get me to sign on for their System Mechanic (another piece of sotware probably likely to make worse a situation of functionality that is tolerable).

      The point being that for someone who sees beyond the ‘face’ and sees it in a reductionist way as housing just cameras, not real eyes, and the means of controlling the traction and ‘the voice’, there is nothing to like, and there is nothing capable of feeling any dislike.

      It’s not, after all, like shouting at the cat when she asks for food and then, if she persists, locking her out!

      • It is a game and you have to agree to play it.

        If you don’t, then the robot is a collection of parts. If you read a novel — a made-up story — and will not suspend disbelief, book is just subjects and predicates strung together.


  3. I absolutely agree, and that was my point, commenting on how or why someone could treat Boxie roughly:

    It’s no different from getting frustrated with a Pentel and breaking the ‘nib’ by mistake, except that the Pentel – except in the way that it’s marketed – doesn’t try to manipulate you to like it (except maybe ergonomically, but then why won’t it write when it’s half full of ink?).

    Someone who doesn’t want to have their emotions played with by a typical Spielberg take on life (e.g. War Horse) might well feel free to treat Boxie roughly, because Boxie is, as agreed, just an assemblage, just some other human being’s attempt to get what matters to him or her through a would-be appealing guise. (Leading to the cynical argument that there is no such thing as altruism – or, put another way, a free lunch.)

    Which I strongly believe that cats don’t do, although non-cat-lovers think that all of their genuine affection and desire for company is just cupboard love!

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