Talking robots have a habit of being really, really creepy.
Call it the uncanny valley, or just admit you're terrified of the robot apocalypse, but either way we get genuinely scared when a machine tries to hold a conversation. (We're talking to you, Siri.)
That said, maybe if we taught the robot to talk in the first place we'd be a bit more relaxed?
Scientists at the University of Hertfordshire have managed to teach a robot the rudimentary building blocks of language just by talking to it.
According to the study, described in the open-access journal PLoS ONE, a robot similar to a child between six and 14 months old can develop rudimentary linguistic skills through interaction with a (non-scientist) human.
After just a few minutes of conversation, in which the 'teachers' spoke to the robot as if it were a child, the mechanical being moved "from random syllabic babble to producing some salient wordforms", according to the paper.
The participants were not researchers and were asked to use their own words, rather than any prescribed lines.
Caroline Lyon of the University of Hertfordshire, said the research could help us understand how humans learn to speak.
She said: "It is known that infants are sensitive to the frequency of sounds in speech, and these experiments show how this sensitivity can be modelled and contribute to the learning of word forms by a robot."
Just remember - whatever you teach it there are three words to leave out: 'kill', 'all' and 'humans'.
Below: some of the creepiest humanoid robots ever made.
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