CIMON Says “Sorry, I’m Just a Robot” as Artificial Intelligence Goes Bad Janet on ISS Crew

The CIMON flying robot is now operational aboard the International Space Station (ISS), but things aren’t going exactly according to plan. In a scene that will look familiar to anyone who uses Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or Siri, CIMON seems to have a mind of its own.

The Crew Interactive Mobile CompanioN is designed to assist astronauts aboard the ISS as they carry out experiments and live on the orbiting spacecraft. CIMON (pronounced “Simon”) is the first fully-interactive robot with artificial intelligence (AI) to make its home aboard the space station.

“This video shows Alexander’s first interactions with Cimon on board the International Space Station. After introducing himself, where he comes from and what he can do, Cimon tests his free-flying abilities, helps Alexander with a procedure and even plays Alexander’s favourite song ‘Man Machine’ by Kraftwerk. In fact, Cimon likes the music so much, he does not want to stop,” the European Space Agency (ESA) reported on their Space in Videos blog.

ESA Astronaut Alexander Gerst attempts to reason with CIMON, the new flying robot on the ISS. Things didn’t go as planned. Image: ESA/NASA

Much like HAL from 2001 or Bad Janet from The Good Place, this AI aboard the International Space Station is behaving more like a surly teen than an obedient servant. View the video below to watch ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst test how the robot reacts to supposedly simple commands.

CIMON seems to be a big fan of the band Kraftwerk, and even develops an attitude toward the end of the video, telling Gerst to stop being mean.

The robot was constructed in Germany by Airbus for the German space agency DLR. The artificial intelligence within CIMON is based on software created for IBM Watson. That system of artificial intelligence is best known for defeating Jeopardy champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings in 2011.

With any kind of luck, CIMON will remain at its current level of laughable rebellion, and not go full Westworld on the occupants of the space station.

But, if it does, CIMON might explain it’s actions with the same phrase it gave to Gerst, “Sorry. I’m just a robot.”

The Cosmic Companion

Exploring the wonders of the Cosmos, one mystery at a time

The Cosmic Companion

Written by

James Maynard is the author of two books, and thousands of articles about space and science. E-mail:

The Cosmic Companion

Exploring the wonders of the Cosmos, one mystery at a time

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