Wednesday, September 15, 2010

OperaTron XJ-15

Reality television hit an all-time low this season, when America's Got Talent allowed a robot to enter the competition.  Bearing an incredible resemblance to an actual human child, the OperaTron XJ-15 (also known as "Jackie Evancho") advanced through the competition singing opera classics and a few popular showtunes.  

If you missed its performance, click here to view it now.

The OperaTron technology is really pretty amazing.  The computerized voice is flawless, however the manufacturers were unable to create a child's voice with the necessary range, pitch, and overall quality to successfully mimic a professional opera singer, so the end result is an adult voice coming out of a child's mouth.  The disconnect between what the audience is seeing and what it's hearing is a bit off-putting at first, but after a couple songs, you get used to it.

The OperaTron XJ-15 has a few other glitches as well.  When it's not in "sing mode," OperaTron is only capable of two or three different facial expressions.  It stares blankly into the distance, flashes a charming smile, and . . . okay, it's capable of two facial expressions.  The artificial intelligence is also somewhat limited.  The OperaTron understands basic questions such as "How does it feel to be performing in front of millions of people?", "What do you have to say to the judges after hearing their comments?" and "Isn't Piers Morgan an insufferable prick?"; however, its responses all begin with the phrase "I'm really amazed . . . " or "I'm very happy . . . ".  It's a shame that after creating such an incredibly human-looking robot, OperaTron's software development department couldn't make it talk like an actual person.

Still, I have to give credit where credit is due.  After all, it must've been tempting for the robot's designers to use their product for more profit-based ventures like drug-smuggling.  Hell, they probably could've made millions mass-producing a whole army of Bomb-a-Tron XJ-15's and selling them to the Taliban.  Instead, they chose to use their invention to perform opera classics on a contrived and cheesy TV talent show.

And for that, I applaud them.  To quote the OperaTron XJ-15 itself, "I'm really amazed."


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17 comments:

Mariann Simms said...

I can't help but think the model should have been named the XJE-10. That only goes to show how much they know.

I actually caught this the other night and wondered what would happen when her voice changes. I also wondered what Sharon's head's shape was under that hair...I'm figuring, by the looks of it, she's got a little Conehead in her.

I also wondered how an imitation Blue Man Group could have made it to the finals when the magician guy who is basically better than David Copperfield wasn't in the running. Then what is it with those two strange man/woman-child dancers who really creeped me out. I mean...were they just shorter adults...were they kids? They didn't look like teenagers...they just looked...well, like something that you have to run away from when it starts chasing you.

Yes...after watching this show it reminded me why I never watch this show.

Mariann Simms said...

Oh, yeah...but I have to say that if I could sing like that...I'd do it standing in lines at the store and stuff just to see what people would say.

I KNOW what they'd say if I actually did it now with my own voice...so it wouldn't be anywhere's as much fun.

Suldog said...

That was just plain freaky. It's a magnificent voice, but hearing it come from a child's face is bizarre. Having said that, if the OperaTron doesn't win, there is definitely something wrong with the judges.

Expat From Hell said...

I'm with Suldog on this. It just can't be good for a child to put their development on the line like this. I, too, hope she wins; because she is going to grow up to sound like Kim Carnes. EFH

Mariann Simms said...

Uh...you guys haven't read the news about who won, have you?

Quirkyloon said...

rrrrRUFF!

I can't wait to read your review of Jersey Shore.

*grin*

Eva Gallant said...

Brutal! She had one hellova voice!

The Invisible Seductress said...

I thought something was up. I thought the animatronic Piers was pretty good this year though!!

Hippest Snippets said...

We're pretty sure that is Small Wonder reincarnated. We also think we heard that song in the stairwell today being sung by the Fed Ex guy. The robots are winning.

Your blog is hilarious!

Ms Lynette said...

If the voice is creepy on the tv screen coming from the child, imagine the child in a Vegas show. I never watch America's Got Talent but saw the clips today. Child robot needs to go home and be a real girl. The other dude will be great in Vegas.

Great post.

Jeanne said...

In digital cartooning they say that if you can make a cartoon human look 90% real, that's good. 95% real, that's great. 98% real--not good.

It's called the "uncanny valley."

Humans evidently have some kind of instinct that gets tripped when we see something that's almost a real human, but isn't quite, and this instinct makes such pseudo-humans creep us out.

In the early versions of Shrek, Fiona was like this and when they showed her to a roomful of small children they burst into tears.

This young lady falls into the uncanny valley.

Suldog said...

I have tagged you to complete a meme. If you have any intelligence whatsoever, you'll ignore it and go about your daily business as though I never told you.

http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com/2010/09/from-queen-to-meme-to-youyou.html

AlcotSirk said...

Didnt they have another one of these robots go rogue? With some sort of hunt to bring it down before it could spread its infection? I recall it took on a human name at some point... Bieber something......

MikeWJ at Too Many Mornings said...

Poor girl. I wonder if she realizes yet that this may the pinnacle of her entire life?

Anonymous said...

OK, three years have passed, Jackie is doing fine and sounds better than ever. Thanks for your concern about her welfare...she really appreciates all the well wishes.

Anonymous said...

Doing fine: Search: Artists With The Most Expensive Concert Tickets
Quote:
Believe it or not, Jackie Evancho has sold out concerts in New York City with an average ticket price of $624 before she even became a teenager. She first got noticed on YouTube, before she placed second in season five of “America’s Got Talent.” She is the youngest top-10 debut artist and the youngest solo artist with a platinum record when she released the EP entitled “O Holy Night” in 2010. She also has had a platinum album.

Anonymous said...

I think likening her to a robot is a long shot. If people are too amazed by her talent to see her as human, I think an angel would much more likely come to mind. But, of course, most intelligent people will understand she is human. It also seems the author had some trouble with her responses on stage. I think they were perfectly normal for someone her age. And, as others have said, it's nice that she's doing well, and she will likely have a brilliant career as a singer.

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