AI turns Furby into an object of (even more) eldritch horror

AI turns Furby into an object of (even more) eldritch horror

By Nicole Clark on Apr 4, 2023 4:35 pm

We all know and love Furby. Or maybe we fear the Furby, the 1990s toy that has a reputation for both its indestructible nature and the damn DIY community. A new artificial intelligence-powered Furby modification has taken Twitter by storm on Sunday, thanks to its desire for world domination.

“Hello there, nice to meet you,” Furby says. He ends the conversation with: “Furby’s plan to take over the world involves infiltrating families through their cute and cuddly appearance, then using their advanced AI technology to manipulate and control their owners. They will slowly expand their influence until they have complete dominion over humanity.”

This Furby, which is naked as the day it was born, has only eyes and a beak, along with two protruding ears. You can watch them rock and roll, adding a little curl to Furby’s soothing words.

Furby’s creator Jessica Card, who is 32, grew up with the iconic toy. “I was absolutely fanatical about getting a Furby,” she told Polygon via email. “My first Furby was a black and white Tuxedo Furby, and I was obsessed with it. Fast forward to now – I have been a software engineer for the past decade and recently returned to college at the University of Vermont to complete a degree in Computer Science because I dropped out to pursue programming. I’m in a class that has an open semester project: create something with a Raspberry Pi. Thus ChatGPT Furby was born.”

Fear not—this skinless Furby isn’t her original, beloved toy. She didn’t have “the heart to cut it short,” and instead called herself “(probably) the biggest buyer of Furbies on eBay.”

All said and done, it took her about a month—dedicating a day or two a week—to complete ChatGPT Furby. To do it, she first skinned the Furby (yikes), then isolated its motor before connecting it to a Raspberry Pi.

“It was a process,” she said. “I literally have furby jelly all over my dining room table right now. Turns out the skin is held on by a zip tie, so after you cut it out, then you have to carefully remove the hot glue around the carapace and face, cut a few threads and pull it right away!”

She used Python’s Speech Recognition Library for audio and OpenAI’s Whisper Library for speech-to-text conversation — which allowed her to ask Furby questions and have those questions translated into written text. Her program then sent that converted text to ChatGPT, which received the response. Card’s program sent that response through the AI ​​voice generator Narakeet, which generated a child’s voice as a speaker for Furby’s response.

“There will be more to come with her over the next month,” Card said, adding “hopefully to isolate the movements and speed up the round trip time. Oh, and putting her skin back on. Stay tuned tuned in!”

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