What if humanoid robots went on sale today?

Persona Synthetics - Channel 4 TV

Regent Street store

With so many companies, both new and well established, working and investing heavily in the field of robotics, mostly in secret, are we likely to wake up one morning and find humanoid robots on sale in a high street store? Perhaps you would buy one to carry out tasks at home like ironing, cutting the grass, painting and decorating? Would you buy one so that you could leave it in charge of your children when you go out? Would you buy one as a companion?

This month, a team of shop-fitters appeared to be setting up an amazing new store on London’s Regent Street, but what were they selling? The store, for a company by the name of ‘Persona Synthetics’, appeared to be opening soon selling home robots:

“Experience the new generation Synthetic Human from Persona Synthetics. Not just an appliance but a deeply personal lifestyle choice: your Synth is the help you’ve always wanted. All models are fully documented and exhaustively tested before sale, with full service histories provided. At Persona, your peace of mind isn’t an optional extra.”

Many people believed that humanoid robots were going to be on sale very soon, not realising that it was part of a very clever advertising campaign for Channel 4 television’s new series Humans, which will begin in June.

It won’t be long, I’m certain, before this really happens, perhaps in the form of a new Apple Robot Store, but will people believe it, or think it is just another clever advertising campaign?

The programme ‘Humans’ actually looks quite creepy as you will see from the trailer below.

On 11th May, The Independent newspaper reported that:

… viewers watching Prometheus on TV over the weekend were deeply unsettled during the first ad break when a commercial aired announcing that robotic maids were now on sale to watch over your family.

Tucking your children into bed and helping fold sheets, the housekeeper was sinister enough to be terrifying, but subtle enough to be believable, especially given technology’s recent rapid acceleration.

Persona Synthetics robot - screen shot

There is a website for the fictional Persona Synthetics where you can read about the ‘4CX-CNS Neural Processor’ installed in each robot, the ‘all day battery’, and the ‘fully customisable personality’. However there is a warning that ‘Persona Synthetics take no responsibility for the actions of synths that have not had the latest firmware updates. Factory reset should only be carried out by Persona Synthetics Inc. staff.’

I look forward to the new series, inspired by the hit Swedish TV series Real Humans (2012). No doubt we will be hearing a lot more about it. From the comments I have read so far, it looks as if Channel 4 have a potential big hit.

Not satisfied with producing a shop front and a very professional website, Channel 4 also opened up an eBay store where they were offering two of the robots for sale to pre-registered bidders. Starting at £20,000 each, the robots were described as ‘new generation synthetic humans’ with the following functions – ‘childcare, cooking and personal training’.
eBay listing screen shoteBay listing screen shot

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