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Victoria 11-year-old with autism creates compassionate robot companion

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While dogs have long been dubbed 'man’s best friend,' Alex Rose is walking his pup during a break from creating a companion for everyone.

“I want to make it so this [artificial intelligence] stuff is more accessible,” the 11-year-old says.

Alex’s mom, Amanda Rose, says her boy has built a robot. “He was always wanting to take everything apart and figure out how it worked."

Amanda says Alex began deconstructing his toys when he was two years old.

When he was five, Alex started reading car manuals from cover to cover.

“Sometimes I don’t read books, I just read manuals,” Alex says. “And when I finished, it felt like I understood how it actually worked.”

By the time he was seven, Alex had learned how computers work by disassembling their components, taught himself software coding through YouTube videos, and was diagnosed with autism.

“One of the superpowers of being autistic,” Amanda says. “Is you’re able to solve problems that people who aren’t on the spectrum probably would not understand how to solve.”

Like when Alex realized phones and tablets became obsolete, he created an operating system called ALEX OS to give them a new life.

“So it still runs smoothly on old hardware,” Alex says. “And actually makes them useful for people.”

Alex says he wants to help people who can’t afford new devices be able to continue connecting with the world.

“It‘s really exciting to see his genuine desire to help people,” Alex says.

Which brings us to a programmable parrot (made from colourful feathers attached to a box shaped like a bird), featuring software created by Alex to connect with people compassionately.

“It recognized if anyone was crying,” Alex says. “And would say words of encouragement.”

Over the past two years, Alex’s robotic bird has evolved, losing its wings and feathers, and gaining a rounded, white plastic body.

“Alex built me this nice body so I can help you,” the robot, named 'airparrotHUB,' says after being asking about its background.

The robot’s simple face features two eyes displayed on one of those old iPhones Alex has brought back to life. Along with playing music, Alex says the robot’s camera can recognize you and its software can carry on a conversations.

“It’s not just answering pre-programmed requests,” Alex says. “It’s actually generating, in real time, an answer.”

Ales says it’s designed to be a companion for all ages — from seniors who may need reminders to kids who can feel lonely.

“Loneliness can be tough,” the ‘airparrotHUB’ says after being asked about the emotion. “I’m here to brighten your day.”

And Alex would like to grow up and make all our days more happy.

The 11-year-old has drawn a large poster, showing all the steps he plans to take on his path from starting middle school to building a tech company called SALEX.

The boy hopes to inspire all of us that no matter what part of your brain is biggest, to make sure your heart is even bigger.

“We’re not going to be here forever,” Alex says. “I think it’s important that people are having the best life they can.”

“And never stop chasing your dreams,” Alex’s robot says, before adding a final thought. “And hey, in 10 years, when there are robots like me in every home, tell them I said, ’Hello.’”

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