November 29th, 2011
02:47 PM ET

Celebrate robot week with 'The Next List'

By The Next List staff

Editor's Note: The CNN show "The Next List" is featuring roboticist Heather Knight this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. We're celebrating by bringing you posts about robots all week! Check back on the "What's Next" blog for more, and follow the show on Twitter. We're @cnnthenextlist.

Meet Heather Knight. She’s a social roboticist - a fancy term that means she makes robots that can interact with humans.

She and her sidekick robot, Data, get into all kinds of shenanigans together: They have a standup comedy act; they take acting classes together; they dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”; and they generally overturn any notion a person might have of a roboticist - and a robot. Check out Data’s acting here. (He also does a mean Shakespeare!)

You probably won’t meet another engineer like Heather. Many roboticists spend the brunt of their time in a lab. Heather conducts her research in theater, comedy clubs and public spaces around the United States. She collaborates with actors, comedians, choreographers and artists. Why? To figure out how people relate to technology, and to gather research that will help her field make technology that is usable and enjoyable to the masses (think Siri on the iPhone.)

Heather is fascinated with the relationship between art and technology – and the role that charisma plays in bonding people to that technology. She envisions a world where robots replace computers and where technology is no longer isolating. She hopes for a day when the reality of a person sitting alone in a cubicle staring at a computer for hours no longer exists. Heather wants to help people flourish by creating great, usable technology - and she’s having a lot of fun while she’s doing it.

soundoff (21 Responses)
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    December 7, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Reply
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    November 3, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Reply
  3. Dan

    this was a great show ! it's nice to see something like this on the news and the girl was really smart and pretty !!

    December 27, 2011 at 3:01 am | Reply
  4. Mark

    Wow – What a TERRIBLE news magazine show this is. CNN has hit a new low and is is so far out the news or information business now. Is this aimed at 8 year olds or this this just the tired apple commercial it appears to be? Kudos on booking the 'hot' robotics 'expert'. She's only been everywhere for about a year. More Dido-esque mandolin pre-lap on the piece please!

    December 25, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Reply
    • Mark

      Can't you make your point without being sarcastic? It's Christmas dude!

      December 25, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Reply
      • Mark

        You're right. I apologize for the sarcasm. Not to excuse it – Its just that I got on board with CNN in Iraq #1. And shows like Erin Burnett and this are why I have to now get off. Its a cold long walk to BBC or Al Jazeera.... And don't call me dude.

        December 25, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  5. James W Smith

    I want one of these robots. How do I go about obtaining one? Saw the segment on 'CNN'. I thought Heather' perspective was insightful. I am recovering from a surgery. I can see enormous benefit from a contact that could remind me of things I need to do w/o dragging a box or tablet around. 'with the right programming, this thing could have a social relationship as part of it's reportroire; effedtively learning a person's voice tone; sentence structure and concluding "mod" and ways to support them: even plan of action ideas for challenges?!

    December 4, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Reply
    • Britt

      If you don't work for a University the company has a developer page, Universities have their own program

      December 4, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Reply
      • Sandhya

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        March 20, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  6. James P

    Just watched the show on CNN's The Next List. Forget SIRI, how do I get a date with Heather? Congratulations on a very interesting show. So she didn't invent the robot. But she's using it in creative ways, and wants to help find ways to use robots to make human lives better. Plus she's smart, gorgeous, caring and has the best smile. It was a positive show that made me feel better about our present and our future. Thanks.

    December 4, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Reply
    • Art S

      totally agree! smart, positive and pretty. Good for USofA and kudos to CNN

      December 4, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Reply
  7. Abe

    How about discussing the fact that she did not design the robot and that it is from Aldebaran. A very non-technical and useless blurb of an article.

    December 4, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Reply
    • Britt

      Abe makes a good point, the robot was in most every scene. But his real name Nao, was not mentioned and the company name only once

      December 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Reply
  8. Stevo

    Wow she is hot and smart. WINNER..

    December 1, 2011 at 10:21 am | Reply
  9. Clayton Clark

    The robot shown above is the nao, it's a customizable robot the can be programmed in many different ways

    November 29, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Reply
  10. patrick james

    I want one! 🙂

    November 29, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Reply
  11. maxx

    OMG i saw the exact same robot at the science fun night

    November 29, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Reply

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