Segments in this Video

Introduction: The Intimate Machine (01:59)


Alan Alda aims to explore how personal computers could become "intimate machines." He will examine research aimed at making computers and machines as sensitive as human companions.

Friendly Characters (08:47)

Alda visits an MIT lab where he gestures to a computer with the help of lab equipment. Computer scientist Justine Cassell explains why researchers are developing ways for computers to understand gestures. Tim Bickmore demonstrates the latest advances in computer gesturing and AI.

Virtual Playmates (07:57)

Cassell's daughter Geneva plays with a program named Sam; Cassell explains its functionality. Sam inspires children to be creative by collaborating with them to tell stories. Hannes Vilhjalmsson introduces Pete, a program that can speak and gesture based on input.

Alpha Wolf (11:18)

Dogs inspire computer scientist Bruce Blumberg's efforts to make computers more sociable. Silas and Duncan are virtual dogs that respond to gestures and commands. Alda helps demonstrate the virtual dogs' learning capabilities.

Getting to Know Us (07:38)

Ted Selker demonstrates the capabilities of computers that track external information with sensors. By keeping track of what people are doing, Selker hopes computers will be able to anticipate what they want. Roz Picard explains the future of this sensing technology.

Advancements in Sensing (04:50)

Six years later, Alda returns to the media lab and Picard demonstrates the progress of her sensor devices. Alda interacts with a computer that can read facial expressions.

Leonardo the Loveable (07:41)

Alda learns about the development of Rodney Brooks' "It." The project attempts to make a computer easier to relate to by giving it a human face and expressions. Meet the scientists who designed the most expressive robot ever built.

Teaching Leonardo (04:15)

Roboticist Cynthia Breazeal explains the goals and challenges of the Leonardo project. Animatronic artist Stan Winston hopes that robots like Leonardo will make acting easier and more believable.

Credits: Scientific American Frontiers: The Intimate Machine (01:29)

Credits: Scientific American Frontiers: The Intimate Machine

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Scientific American Frontiers: The Intimate Machine

3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



We call them personal computers, but our interactions with them are utterly impersonal, via a keyboard and mouse. In this episode of Scientific American Frontiers, Alan Alda gets to communicate with computers that know who he is, where he is, what he's doing and even how he's feeling. The ultimate such computer--actually a cute and cuddly robot--is being developed in a unique collaboration between Hollywood and MIT.

Length: 56 minutes

Item#: BVL151389

Copyright date: ©2002

Closed Captioned

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