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Photo: Hiroshi Ishiguro/Osaka University/ATR

On the Tinder for robots, you don’t swipe left or right — you instead rate them on likability, appearance and overall desirability. Too many bad "appearance" ratings, and a bot lands in a modern hall of shame: the World’s Creepiest Robots.

Why it matters: Today’s most useful robots are giant arms that assemble cars and smartphones in enormous factories. But in the near future, robot builders want to make social bots that elicit empathy from people. First, they have to figure out how to make ones that aren’t totally horrifying.

Telenoid, a milky-white, nearly featureless robot that appears ready to feast on human souls, enjoys the top spot on the Creepiest Robots list.

  • According to the robot’s website, its "minimalistic" design is intended to appear "both male and female" and "both old and young."
  • It can mimic a faraway person’s facial expressions as they speak — acting as "a mobile phone shaped like an alien," according to IEEE, the organization behind the bot catalog.
  • The nightmarish bot is expected to sell for $8,000.

All five creepiest robots have human-like faces, but dead eyes and weird dull skin that shove them deep into the "uncanny valley," a term used to describe the dreadful quality of robots that try to emulate human features but fall short.

"Creepiest" is just one way of sorting IEEE’s catalog of nearly 200 robots. Choose to sort by "Top Rated" and you’ll see a very different set of machines. Tellingly, none are humanoid: The top two are animal-like bots, and nearly all the rest in the top ten bear no resemblance to living things.

Go deeper: Rate some bots!

Go deeper

Restaurant software meets the pandemic moment

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Food delivery companies have predictably done well during the pandemic. But restaurant software providers are also having a moment as eateries race to handle the avalanche of online orders resulting from severe in-person dining restrictions.

Driving the news: Olo filed last week for an IPO and Toast is rumored to be preparing to do the same very soon.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Technology

How the automation economy can turn human workers into robots

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

More than outright destroying jobs, automation is changing employment in ways that will weigh on workers.

The big picture: Right now, we should be less worried about robots taking human jobs than people in low-skilled positions being forced to work like robots.

House passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package

Photo: Screenshot via C-SPAN

The House approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package on a 219-212 vote early Saturday morning, sending it to the Senate for a possible rewrite before it gets to Biden's desk.

The big picture: The vote was a critical first step for the package, which includes $1,400 cash payments for many Americans, a national vaccination program, ramped-up COVID testing and contact tracing, state and local funding and money to help schools reopen.