The Abandoned Biobot, 2015-2016


In 2013 a laboratory-grown human brain ushered in a future of biological products with artificial intelligence. Abandoned Biobot Type 3 presents the dilemma that occurs when living biological robots (biobots) are no longer desired and are discarded.

In a consumer society hungering for upgrades this biobot, designed as a human companion, is now aged, disfigured and abandoned. Intelligent and adaptive, its survival mission is to find a replacement owner.

The biobot modifies itself to trigger our human social instincts. It uses a ‘law of four’ to manipulate us: presence of eyes; unpredictability; readable posture and likability/cuteness.

The Abandoned Biobot Type3



The Abandoned Biobot Type 3




The Biobot Type 1






Abandoned Biobot Type3, Royal Academy Summer Show 2016, 13 June - 21 August 2016

Abandoned Biobot Type1, Public exhibition at South Circular Road, London April 2015 - May 2016



Collin Allen, Wayne Parker, Nav Kiani & Havelock Walk



The first generation of companion robots

The Abandoned Biobot is an imagined advanced version of the first therapeutic robot called Paro, created by the leading Japanese industrial automation pioneer, AIST. Paro has the capacity to learn and behave in a way that the user prefers. Paro responds as if alive and is designed for socially isolated older people and patients suffering from dementia.


The Abandoned Biobot is an advanced offspring of the companion robot, Paro.
Unlike Paro, this updated robot has been created with biotechnology and achieves artificial intelligence.
As a human companion it’s role, construction and purpose is summarised as:

The Biobot’s role:

* A human companion for elderly people who are socially isolated.


* Outer hard shell with internal biological organs. Arms, legs and face have a skin-like feel to the touch.
Designed purpose:

* To appeal to humans and form emotional attachment.

* To be responsive to human contact.

The Abandoned Biobot is designed to possess four main features that trigger us to assign human agency to it and form an emotional connection.
These features are collated from the work of leading psychologists and three pioneers in particular.
These are Dr Bruce Hood’s theory on the process of Domestication as a force within human evolution.[1]
Dr Nicholas Epley’s research on our sixth sense to mind read each other as important in understanding what others think, believe, feel and want.[2]
Finally, Dr Adam Alter's work on the subconscious forces that shape our thoughts, behaviour and feelings.[3]

From their research the robot's design follows the following 'law of four' to help users adopt the robot as a companion:

1. The presence of eyes:

Human’s use eyes to predict what others are thinking. This is why we see faces and eyes everywhere, from cars to clouds.

2. A level of unpredictability:

If we can’t predict what something will do, we look for a mind to help determine what that thing might do next.
3. Movement:

If another entity moves at a similar pace to ourselves this helps it toappear to be more mindful.
4. Likeability:

If we like something it is easier to invest an emotional attachment.

Artificial intelligence in biotechnology

The BBC News in 2013 reported that scientists had grown a miniature brain in the lab up to the age of a 9 week old foetus. This advance in biotechnology gives us a signpost to future biologically based robots that might achieve artificial intelligence.



Abandoned products

The piece directly refers to the site of Havelock Walk where the entrance of the street is often plagued by the fly-tipping and dumping of unwanted items.

The Biobot's owner has died and he has been abandoned. He finds itself ‘fly-tipped’ on the street.
It needs to find another owner and to keep-up with newer technology in order to find a way to survive.

Faced with the future of intelligent biotech products, The Abandoned Biobot prompts us to question:

How will we treat the end of the lives of future living and thinking products?

If these products are dumped on our streets, how might these things behave in order to survive and how might they reshape our cities?

The Biobot’s response

The Abandoned Biobot triggers human social instincts to influence people it encounters on the street. The biobot uses its experience of understanding what human’s find instinctively desirable to magnify its likeability. It alters itself and surroundings to achieve this. It is connected to the ‘Internet of Things’ and uses algorithms to deconstruct human behaviour and preferences, as seen in these google image searches below, which it uses to design its outer shell.

Google search result of keywords: "cute", "kawaii", "adorable", "beautiful", "cutest animal" in several languages

The biobot creates a second skin or shell around itself from what it finds on the street and uses new psychological research of the power of ‘cuteness’, social intelligence and the ‘domesticated brain’ theory by Bruce Hood to make itself desirable.



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