How much is your own face worth? Would you sell it to a robot startup for the right price?
Geomiq, a London-based engineering company, says it's looking for the perfect face for its new client, an undisclosed robot maker that's developing a "virtual friend" for elderly people.
And they're willing to pay someone £100,000—or around $127,840—to be that face, in perpetuity.
"A few weeks ago we were approached by a robotics company asking if we could help it with the finishing touches of a state-of-the-art humanoid robot it’s been working on," Geomiq wrote on its blog. "The company is searching for a ‘kind and friendly’ face to be the literal face of the robot once it goes into production. This will entail the selected person’s face being reproduced on potentially thousands of versions of the robots worldwide."
I would like to advise readers not to sell their faces for a sum of $127,840, but in this economy, you have to do what you have to do.
The robot for the elderly isn't the concerning part of this, obviously. We've seen plenty of those before. Most of them try hard to be non-threatening, with big smiley faces and telepresence video screens. In the UK and Japan, for example, a robot companionship project called CARESSES (Culture Aware Robots and Environmental Sensor Systems for Elderly Support) is trying to figure out how to make robots that adapt to the culture and customs of the humans they'll hang out with.
The concerning part is how your face will show up in thousands of homes around the world. Helping people. Forever.
The details in the announcement are scant. What makes a face "friendly" enough to offset the fact that it's plastered onto a rolling or lumbering assemblage of sentient metal in your home? Once you sell your face to this mystery company, will it turn around sell it to third parties? Will your sweet friendly face, meant to interact with home-bound grandmas, suddenly start appearing on RealDolls if the company needs to pivot?
I've reached out to Geomiq and will update if I hear back.