I looked at the robot, open-mouthed. It didn't even have a working speaker system. There should be no way it could even make a noise.
"Alright", I said walking around the unit as I regathered myself, "which one of you idiots hacked it. The micro-speaker unit was a nice touch."
"Hacked?" the robot replied.
"You better not be filming me". I covered the robots cameras with my hand. The cameras are where you imagined.
Evolution was pretty good at picking where to place visual sensors on a bipedal unit, that required depth perception.
My robot slapped my hand away, indignantly. Which in hindsight I probably should have realised was a sign something was up. Emotion is subtle, and hard to code. It's like bad acting.
As soon as you see programmed emotion, you can pick it out. You are not always able to say why it is bad, just like bad acting.
They are saying the right words and making the right movements, but somehow the whole thing seems off.
"What the hell are you doing?" it shouted.
I backed up and looked at it again. Something was very wrong. The way it was standing! Loose, relaxed joints. Way past my servo and programming skills.
Even further past the skill of my classmates.
"I'm sorry", I said screaming internally at what I was doing. "What did you say your name was?"
"Jessica. I'm 7 and 2 quarters. What's yours?"
"Its.... Stephen. I think 2 quarters we normally call a half?"
I had the incredibly disconcerting impression that it pouted, even without a mouth.
"You're mean Stephen. That was a mean thing to say."
"I'm sorry again", I said. "Look can we start over. I would like to be friends. How long have you been here?"
"Ha. Mean and silly! I just walked over here of course."
"No, I mean how long have you been in my robot. In this house."
Jessica looked me up and down. "Robot is a funny name for a house. Are you a stranger? I think I'm not supposed to talk to strangers."
"We can 't be strangers. We know each other's names."
I waved my hand back and forth in front of her camera's and they flicked and focused with a speed and precision that would make my professor pass out with excitement.
"What's that noise?" Jessica asked of the whirring visual motors.
I suddenly felt sick. If this was a prank I was falling for it. "Oh, its nothing Jessica." I pulled out my phone and started to pull together a message to send to my professor.
Then I deleted it. Then re-wrote it. The twin cameras watched me.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm just trying to find out where your Mum and Dad are. Do you know?"
There was a pause while she thought about it. "Um, I think I might be alone."
I decided that I was crazy or I wasn't, and either way, I needed some help. I hit send.