Having a real baby of my own, it's easy to imagine there being a market for a robot baby that never requires attention but is always eager to offer affection to reciprocate emotions.

The creators of the Child-robot with Biomimetic Body, or CB2, say it's slowly developing social skills by interacting with humans and watching their facial expressions, mimicking a mother-baby relationship. ...

"Babies and infants have very, very limited programmes. But they have room to learn more," said Osaka University professor Minoru Asada, as his team's 33 kilogram (73 pound) invention kept its eyes glued to him.

The team is trying to teach the pint-sized android to think like a baby who evaluates its mother's countless facial expressions and "clusters" them into basic categories, such as happiness and sadness.

I think Asada's projection for the future of artificially intelligent robots is quite reasonable:

In coming decades, Asada expects science will come up with a "robo species" that has learning abilities somewhere between those of a human and other primate species such as the chimpanzee.

With Japan's wealth and demographic shift towards the elderly, it's the perfect market for this kind of robot.

Electronics giant Toshiba is developing a new model of domestic helper, AppriAttenda, which moves on wheels and can fetch containers from a refrigerator with its two arms -- a potentially lucratic invention in fast-aging Japan.

"We aim to make a robot that elderly people can count on when living alone," said Takashi Yoshimi, a senior research scientist at a Toshiba laboratory in Kawasaki city south of Tokyo.

Sign me up.

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