Bill Gates Is Skeptical of AI. But After This Little Robot Left *Me* a Personal Love Letter, I Can't Help But Disagree.
Maybe the epic Microsoft co-founder just hasn’t met Cubic yet?
Bill Gates is apprehensive of artificial intelligence (AI). In a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” this week, the tech entrepreneur said he is worried about the potential threat AI poses to humankind. “I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don't understand why some people are not concerned.”
Not to say that Gates doesn’t know what he is talking about. But I do humbly wonder if he has ever had a wee little robot talk fondly about him before.
Because I have. And it’s kinda the best thing ever.
The team at Palo Alto, Calif.-based Cubic Robotics wanted to get my attention. And -- take note, PR firms -- they did. I fell for their pitch hook line and sinker. In the video they sent me below, little robot Cubic says it wants to be an entrepreneur when it grows up and that, to learn about entrepreneurs, it reads all of *my* stories at Entrepreneur. Clever, and admittedly a bit ego-boosting.
Have a look:
“Hey Cubic. What if Catherine wrote about you?” asks Ivan Crewkov, the chief marketing officer at the tech company. To which the little robot (I am subconsciously personifying this square cube, by calling it “little”) responds, “That would be incredible. Do you think she will?”
The video is endearing, but it also demonstrates, in 30 seconds (PR tip No. 2: reporters are always on deadline and always busy and always behind) how Cubic works. After the exchange, Crewkov asks Cubic to email me.
That’s the idea behind this device: It’s a digital personal assistant. But it also has some amount of “personality.” The device has raised more than its $100,000 goal on the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. Campaign backers can purchase their own little Cubic for $195 with expected delivery in November.
Cubic syncs with all of your various social media accounts and technology devices and gives you friendly reminders, offers to email people, orders take out. Have a look at the video, embedded below, which walks through a day with two people using Cubic.
It’s a bit future-forward, Jetsons-feeling. The idea of being automatically reminded by a cute little dude that I am dressed inappropriately for my commute to work does sound pretty helpful. Cubic sits in that spot between exciting and maybe a tiny bit uncomfortable -- somewhere like where Joaquin Phoenix wanted you to stew his movie, Her, in which his character falls in love with an operating system.
Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.