Perhaps you’ve heard of the android trumpeter.
Developed by Toyota, it was unveiled in 2004 as part of a suite of so-called Partner Robots designed to “embody kindness and intelligence and to assist with human activities,” in the parlance of a company press release. The scattered evidence found online is impressive, even scary. In one video clip, the robot plays a credible Dixieland version of “Bippity Boppity Boo,” complete with Wynton-esque trills. Another clip features a segue from “When You Wish Upon a Star” to the original Mickey Mouse Club theme, with what sounds like flawless intonation. The tone of the comments on these pages runs from dumbstruck awe to withering skepticism. One commenter summed up the ambivalence with a phrase both suggestive and succinct: “That robot blows.”