WATCH: The first concert for robots organised in Estonia

The biggest robotics festival in Europe, Robotex, that took place in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, hosted among other things the first live concert performed exclusively for robots.

Robotex 2017, taking place from 24-26 November, was attended by more than 15,000 spectators. The event offered various activities for kids, students, robotics enthusiasts and even grandparents. It also hosted what was believed to be the world’s first live concert performed exclusively for robots.

“The technology has changed the mankind fundamentally and we see that this development continues. Soon, robots will be present in our everyday lives and this will be a huge challenge for all of us as we have to learn to live and work alongside them. The human race will not be the only rational creature on this planet anymore,” Ave Laas, the CEO of Robotex, said in a statement.

“Our common understanding is that a robot is primarily a machine – designed to increase productivity and efficiency. We cannot see anything human in robots: they have no nationality, gender, language – and, moreover – they lack emotions and feelings. At the same time, the question is that when an AI (artificial intelligence – editor) develops, how can we rule out that at one point, the robots will become more similar to us,“ Laas added.

Humanising robots

To foresee the importance of the “human factor” – ie emotions and feelings – in machines, Robotex called together a band to perform in front of 30 robots. The music group, Focus Space, featured Jürgen Urbanik on keyboards, Joosep Niinmeister on trumpet and Vahur Orrin on percussion.

“The concert was performed in front of the most intelligent and sophisticated robots represented at Robotex. Our band tried to connect and interact with the bots and inject them emotions through the music – you could call it ’humanising the robots’ if you will,“ Vahur Orrin, the author of the idea and the producer behind the concert, said.

According to Orrin, this was probably the first live concert in the world that was arranged specifically for robots. Miles Davis’s hit, Jean Pierre, was played while filming a music video that sees a number of cheerful robots making dance-like moves and getting into a merry festive spirit.

Robotex was organised in cooperation with the Tallinn University of Technology and the University of Tartu.

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Images courtesy of Focus Space.

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About the author: Silver Tambur

Silver Tambur is the cofounder and Editor-in-Chief of Estonian World. He has previously studied journalism at the University of Tartu, and Politics & Society at the Birkbeck College, University of London. Silver has been the editor at the Estonian Public Broadcasting’s news service in English, as well as contributing for the Business Sense magazine in the UK, Deutsche Welle and Radio New Zealand. You can also follow him on Twitter. You can write to Silver at silver@estonianworld.com.