As if outsourcing backoffice functions to India and China wasn’t enough!  There’s a new staff member at Carnegie Mellon University and while she may occasionally need repair, she won’t require health insurance or a retirement plan. “Valerie” is considered the world’s first robot receptionist with a personality, say school officials of the drum-shaped contraption topped with a monitor that displays her digitally animated face. “We wanted to give her an underdog character, struggling to make it in a world of humans. After a while on the job, she gets testy. But she can be charming too.” says Kevin Snipes, a graduate student in drama writing, and one of four writers who came up with Valerie’s fictional character. The project is a collaboration between Carnegie Mellon’s computer science and drama departments, and the drama folks say they may give her a shot at a musical cabaret they’re putting together, despite her limited tone and pitch. “She has no idea she’s awful,” says Snipes.

AP 19 Feb 2004