TOKYO – Having developed hugging simulators and remote kiss transmitters, Japanese scientists unveiled a robot that simulates feelings of rejection in users too shy to go out and be rejected in person.
“Market research indicated no one would ever want to actually hug our target demographic of sad, repulsive losers,” said Nobuhiro Takahashi of the Kajimoto Laboratory. “The better our hugging simulators worked, the less authentic they felt.”
So Kajimoto engineers designed the Nega-Roid, a humanoid robot that replicates the emotional devastation typical of failures in love and friendship.
“Now this I can believe!” said Riku Ibaraki, a 23-year-old trial user who refuses to leave his mother’s Tokyo apartment.
The Nega-Roid works by sending biochemical cues to the user’s brain. A spray of dopamine from the bot’s hips induces pleasure, simulating the hope and desire of approaching a potential mate. Then electrical impulses are transmitted to the user’s thalamus, the brain region associated with disappointment.
Scientists arrived at the chemical-electrical one-two punch after a long development process.
“The trick was in finding the right levels,” Takahashi said. “Too much dopamine, and users would be blissed out. Too little, and there’d be no emotional cost once the thalamus kicked in. It would feel like getting turned down by a poor person: humbling, but eh.”
Excessive voltage levels would have conditioned users to avoid craving affection altogether, discouraging repeat uses of the Nega-Roid.
“We want our clientele to be caught in a feedback loop of delusional fantasy and crushing self-recrimination – just like in real life!” Takahashi said.
When asked why Fajimoto Laboratory doesn’t simply make sex robots, he laughed and said, “Our target customers don’t know what sex is.”
Early test runs of the Nega-Roid have proven successful. Once it arrives on the market in late 2013, the robot should be a hit among the hikikomori, a generation of tech-savvy shut-ins whose social skills are so deteriorated, they have contributed to Japan’s rapid birth rate decline.
“Everyone gets rejected,” said 33-year-old Hitoshi Fujioka. “But I’ll always have my Nega-Roid, even if it won’t have me.”