Feeling robots?: Well, as long as you believe they feel something, it's true for you, right?
Many of us would consider "feeling" and "robot" contradictory terms, but to address the growing void in the lives of many people, the Feelix (acronym for FEEL, Interact, eXpress), a robot that simulates bonding and emotional display is being developed at the University of Hertfordshire.
One of the first machines - a box on wheels - is already showing imprinted behaviour, the Engineer magazine reported. Like a human baby, it has become attached to its "mother" and follows her around.
Dr Lola Canamero, who is co-ordinating the project, said: "The goal is to build machines that can develop social, functional skills to interact with humans."
Some of the robots will also be given artificial heads capable of producing facial expressions.
There are similar projects under way in Japan. Here's an interesting attempt to explain the Japanese cultural fascination with these toys.
It's amazing what human beings will do in order to avoid interdependence with other human beings.
Toronto-based Canadian journalist Denyse O'Leary (www.designorchance.com) is the author of the multiple award-winning By Design or by Chance? (Augsburg Fortress 2004), an overview of the intelligent design controversy, and of Faith@Science. She was named CBA Canada's Recommended Author of the Year in 2005 and is co-author, with Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of the forthcoming The Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul (Harper 2007).