When you consider the potential of the technology we’re developing to cause serious harm to humanity in the future, it makes sense that there are those hard at work trying to make technology more approachable by making it more human.
The Japanese are leading the charge on this, seemingly spurred by the need to create advanced robotic helpers for their swiftly aging population. Since not everyone is going to like the idea of having R2D2 helping them out of bed in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, there is clearly a need for more humanoid assistants, if only to try to calm fears that they will one day decide they don’t need us.
But I doubt I’m alone when I say I’m not so sure that the advances in this field are doing much to make me feel more comfortable. I’m kind of freaked out by it.
The robot in these videos is a “Geminoid” – a term coined by Japanese scientist Hiroshi Ishiguro. According to the creators’ website, “A geminoid appears and behaves just like its source person. Also, it is tightly-connected with its original by information paths.” In other words, it’s meant to be a fully automated clone of someone real, down to the facial expressions.
The Geminoid in these videos however, is from Alborg University in Denmark, where their goal is to try to understand the differences in cultural perceptions of the artificial humans. In the first one, the robot even appears to breathe. My first impression was that it had to be faked – that this was just a real guy pretending to be a robot, but judging from the “making of” videos, it’s real alright.
Readers, what’s your take? Freaked out? Excited? Ready to swear your allegiance to our new robotic overlords?