When will our mechanical men (and women) reproduce the dulcet tones of the human voice? I don't know about you, but I'm getting tired of those mechanical voices.
Fortunately, a polymer gel developed at Harvard and MIT successfully mimics the viscoelastic properties of human vocal cords.
(Polymer Gel Mimics Properties of Human Vocal Cords)
The polymer, PEG30, which is a modified form of polyethylene glycol (PEG), was shown to vibrate with a similar frequency to human vocal cords when air was blown through a vocal-fold model made of the polymer.
Just to be clear, PEG30 is being developed as an injectable solution for use inside human beings; the polymer has been shown to restore vibration to the living human vocal chords that have become stiff and unable to vibrate due to scarring.
But I think that the same solution might be used to help robots and artificial intelligences speak more clearly to us.
I couldn't help but think of this amusing exchange between non-organic intelligences in Terry Bisson's hilarious and insightful short story They're Made out of Meat:
"We're supposed to talk to meat?"
"That's the idea. That's the message they're sending out by radio. 'Hello. Anyone out there? Anyone home?' That sort of thing."
"They actually do talk, then. They use words, ideas, concepts?"
"Oh, yes. Except they do it with meat."
"I thought you just told me they used radio."
"They do, but what do you think is on the radio? Meat sounds. You know how when you slap or flap meat it makes a noise? They talk by flapping their meat at each other. They can even sing by squirting air through their meat."