CIMON’s cartoon face appears to roll its eyes. Then, in the middle of Gerst’s next instructions about starting a video stream, CIMON interjects: “Cool—let’s sing along those favorite hits.”

Thinking the machine simply didn’t hear him, Gerst repeats his instruction: “Cancel music.”

But CIMON was having none of it. “I love music you can dance to,” the robot says, sounding a bit defensive. “Alright, favorite hits incoming.”

It’s not quite HAL 9000 refusing to open the pod bay doors, but it soured the rest of the conversation. As Gerst relays CIMON’s technical difficulties to support staff, the robot sheepishly reminds his new friend to “be nice please.”

Taken aback, Gerst strikes a slightly menacing tone: “I am nice! He’s accusing me of not being nice! He just doesn’t know me when I’m not nice.”

“Cool,” CIMON sulks. Then, ruefully: “Don’t you like it here with me?”

Although Gerst declared it “a really, uh, great demonstration,” it was an inauspicious start for a machine designed to pioneer “social interactions…between astronauts and assistance systems equipped with emotional intelligence.” But then again, maybe if CIMON were riding along on a 39-day trip to Mars, his astronaut friends wouldn’t cut him off 46 seconds into his favorite song.

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