Next Best Friend, A Robot?

Pepper, is Japan’s first affordable robot that can read emotion and “will be a platform for new apps” starting this February.  It’s hard to imagine a robot with human-like features ever existing but scientists in Japan are coming very close.  Decades ago people only dreamed of human-like robots and made cartoons like the Jetsons to predict what the world may look like one day.  It is crazy to think how much the world changes in just 50 years.  5o years ago we thought smoking cigarettes was healthy and doctors themselves were advertising for the benefit of smoking.

During a robotic play in Japan, Hiroshi Ishiguro, an artist turned engineer brought his human-like robot with hair skin and movements to watch.  Her name is Geminoid F and she sat in the front row to watch the production.  Adam Piore, the writer of Will Your Next Best Friend Be A Robot?:  sat in to watch that very play.  Geminoid F has many human like characteristics like looking, around, blinking and chest compressions mimicking breathing.  Geminoid F was panning and stopped and made eye contact with Adam and for a second Adam felt like the robot knew he was there and knew he was a person but then just kept panning away in awkward movements.  Ishiguro admits that Geminoid F is not perfect and has its issues.

Hiroshi Ishiguro has many “[Eerie] lifelike creations” in his laboratory at Osaka University and Geminoid F is the start of something great:

geminoid f

(Geminoid F with her human counterpart on the right)

Ishiguro said that most importantly his robot conveys “the illusion of life” and he said “My goal is not just to create a humanlike robot,” “but to understand the feeling of a presence. What is that? I want to understand what is a human, and what is a human likeness.”  And humans may forever be the only ones who understand presence but its crazy to think what will happen in the next 50 years considering we have lifelike human robots now.  Will we all have our own human-robot assistants? Will we make clones of ourselves?  Will these robots develop enough emotion to want to overthrow us as a race?  We will find out.

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1 thought on “Next Best Friend, A Robot?

  1. Macy Elizabeth Cellitti

    This may sound silly but I feel like it is a valid concern: What if we create this extremely impressive and intelligent technology, but then it winds up “taking over” and hurting us in the long run? We’re giving these robots minds of their own and you even wrote in your post about how they one day might be our assistants. What if they take over other job fields as well? Human jobs will become more and more scarce, making it harder for anyone to find employment. I just feel like there’s a lot of potential for this to hurt us more than it could help us. It’s like factory machines today causing factory workers to be out of jobs. Does anyone else share my concern?

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