Tiny Robot's Farewell to Astronaut Friend

By James Hamblin

Astronaut Koichi Wakata said a gritty goodbye to his little, floating companion Kirobo this week after six months together aboard the International Space Station. If this video does not make you cry, you are a robot.

If it does, you might also be a robot, in that you sympathize with the outwardly unmoved but inwardly heartbroken Kirobo.

Just like that, Wakata called it over. What did Kirobo do? Sulk? Beg him to stay? No. He told Wakata not to worry. "I suppose there's just not enough space for me."

And what about Kirobo's feelings?

"I'll be all right. I'm a robot."

That is the perfect thing to say when someone hurts you and then asks if you're okay. Or to just softly repeat to yourself.

"I'll be all right. I'm a robot. I'll be all right. I'm a robot."

The mission of the Kirobo Robot Project is to solve the problems of an increasingly less communicative society by making human-robot interactions more realistic and fulfilling. At this point interactions with Kirobo seem less realistic than idyllic.

This is the video that announced Kirobo's space voyage last year:

It's the same old story, really. Man goes into space, man befriends tiny humanoid robot, man forms unexpected bond with tiny humanoid robot, man leaves after emotional farewell. They promise to hang and talk about space once they get back to Earth, but things are just so busy, you know, who has the time.

Anyway, I believe Kirobo is now in charge of the International Space Station.

Last week we learned about the impending singularity, in which artificial intelligence will subjugate humanity to do its bidding. Now this little robot is up there all resentfully abandoned and brooding, but that's probably fine.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/05/tiny-robots-farewell-to-astronaut-friend/370921/