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Scientists working for Facebook developed an expressive robot that can learn human reactions by watching Skype. According to New Scientist, the robot’s animation is controlled by an artificially intelligent algorithm, a bold idea that could possibly change the landscape of human interaction.

Despite the test proving successful, the strength of the research has yet to be verified. Reports state that the animations were quite basic, and “it’s not clear whether a humanoid robot powered by this algorithm would have natural-seeming reactions.”

This algorithm picked up human-like reactions after studying hundreds of videos of Skype conversations. During tests, the robots managed to pass as humans.

“To optimize its learning, the algorithm divided the human face into 68 key points that it monitored throughout each Skype conversation. People naturally produce nods, blinks, and various mouth movements to show they are engaged with the person they are talking to, and eventually the system learned to do this too,” the website states.

In addition, the AI was able to study videos of humans speaking, and then express its own reaction in real-time. For example, if someone was angry or mad, the bot would tilt its head or become reactionary; it also managed to mimic laughing and copy head movements.

“The Facebook team then tested the system with panels of people who watched animations that included both the bot reacting to a human, and a human reacting to a human. The volunteers judged the bot and the human to be equally natural and realistic,” researchers stated.

Despite the test proving successful, the strength of the research has yet to be verified. Reports state that the animations were quite basic, and “it’s not clear whether a humanoid robot powered by this algorithm would have natural-seeming reactions.”

Robot learning from Skype

Experts also state that copying facial expressions is not the key to AIs learning the characteristics of humans, because that will also take emotions and expressions derived from a thought process to form a more human-like existence.

More leading tech firms are now switching over to voice and facial recognition software. Apple recently announced the launch of its new iPhone X smartphone which comes with a facial recognition access platform instead of a fingerprint scanner or PIN code.

Apple have also managed to develop an “animoji” which can copy human facial expressions. The user can send the emoji to their friend using his or her voice and facial expressions.

Facial recognition scanners are also being used more in home security systems, public access points, and other devices to better identify the user. It is estimated that by 2040, there will be at least a 70% increase in those using voice and facial recognition software globally.

Despite the criticisms of Facebook’s recent tests, the study will most certainly make a bold impact in the tech industry, and alter the way AI and facial recognition software is developed. Apple’s new software will also provide a solid base for other tech firms to develop their operations toward a more technologically sophisticated future.