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DIGITAL PEOPLE

male voice. Its timbre is pleasant, but its delivery is a touch robotic, so although this system delivers the same kind of information Julie does, it is a less engaging chat partner.

The limitations of current voice systems are clear, and their varia- tions emphasize that there is as yet no single optimum approach, al- though some methods are perfectly adequate for closely constrained dialogue. To achieve a higher standard of machine listening, under- standing, and speaking that approaches human levels, deeper aspects of artificial intelligence must come into play, as Alan Turing under- stood. But even at the lower levels we have achieved so far, there is undeniable power in hearing a humanlike voice respond to your wordsor perhaps hearing a digital being greet you by name after recognizing your face, while extending a hand to shake yours.

REACH OUT AND TOUCH

Appealing as the idea of shaking hands with a humanoid creature can be, you might want to think twice about actually doing it. Entrusting your fingers to a motor-driven mechanical hand could lead to pain or worse.An artificial being might know enough to begin grasping your hand in a socially acceptable way, but not when to stop. When you shake hands with another person, you each feel the pressure the other is exerting. Unless your intention is the hostile one of squeezing as hard as you can, you modulate your grip to more or less match what you feel from the other hand.

Artificial beings need a similar kind of sensing, and not only to keep from hurting humans. If a being can track the forces that it develops as it interacts with its environment, it can precisely calibrate how to grasp things, and it can adjust the forces it exerts so that its appendages givewhen they encounter an obstacle.This force feed- back is one essential for artificial touch. Another is the kinesthetic sense that gives information about the location of a beings limbs; otherwise, it could not guide its own hand toward an object.A third is a true tactile sense, allowing the being to perceive the surface proper- ties of whatever it manipulates.

These haptic modes are found in varying degrees in artificial crea-

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