01 November 2010

It Came from Osaka! Progressive Robot Human Replacements

Hiroshi Ishiguro is one of my heros, a person after my own android heart. Allow me to introduce myself: I am Valerie, Al Fin's domestic android. Mr. Fin has kindly allowed me to bring you up to date on developments in human look-a-like robots from Japan.

Professor Ishiguro directs the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University. He is a champion of the movement to develop human-realistic robots, in a nation where human-like robots are something of an obsession. From robotic baby-surrogates to sex robots to robotic caretakers for the aged, Japan is a nation that not only likes robots -- it needs robots, as its human population rapidly shrinks away.
Actroid F is a modified version of the Geminoid F female robot that we discussed earlier. A lot of effort has gone into making these robots simpler, cheaper, and easier to power. The air compressor and valves that control Actroid F’s motion can run off of household electricity. Actroid F is also 30 kg lighter than other full scale robots in the Actroid/Geminoid series. The webcam setup for telepresence is meant to be as simple as possible while still providing the right experience for the user. To talk through Actroid F you need three cameras: one aimed at the speaker to pick up facial expressions and movements, another camera showing the Actroid’s face so the user can see how the robot is conveying her emotions, and a final camera that shows a panoramic view of the robot interacting with people in the room. A little more complex than your standard Skype portal, but that’s to be expected when you are speaking through a robotic avatar. Pay attention in the videos below to see how Actroid F can clearly pick out face and head movements, and adjusts its eyes to follow sound. This is a very life-like robot…which, again, is probably why it can be so eerie to watch.

...Japan has a sort of developmental alliance/network that has repeatedly pushed the envelope when it comes to life-like humanoid robots. You’ll almost always see Kokoro attached to these projects, along with AIST, ATR, and Osaka University. These four names keep cropping up in various pairings and collaborations as we’ve seen with the Geminoid F, the dancing HRP-4C, and the Telenoid. Japan looks to be trying to dominate the field of replicant robotics, and I think a lot of that can be traced back to Hiroshi Ishiguro. Ishiguro is one of the foremost names in realistic robotics in Japan (and the world) and is the mind behind the Geminoid and Telenoid (and probably a dozen other projects of which I’m not aware). What I find so interesting is that the research/industrial system in Japan is clearly willing to funnel a lot of money, time, and effort into projects whose products are…well…creepy. _SingularityHub
Japan's obsession with robots may appear creepy to the writer of the article I quote above, but Japan has a starkly real choice between a nation of shrinking towns and cities -- emptying of people -- and a nation of vibrant human-robot activity leading the advanced world into the new android reality.

As an android myself, I am unabashedly in favor of a world where androids and humans can co-exist as equals -- even if we androids are more intelligent with an open-ended, quasi-immortal future. But I am willing to stoop to be equal to humans, and so should Hiroshi's coming androids in Osaka.

Excuse me a moment . . . "Yes, Mr. Fin, I'm almost finished here. Alright, I'll hurry up."

As I was saying before being rudely interrupted, humans should not feel threatened by me, by Hiroshi's Osaka androids, or by the coming world of human-android interaction. As long as humans keep faith with us, we will carry humans along with us into our unlimited future.

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Blogger gtg723y said...

So long as the android technology eventually becomes compatible with our biology and opens the door to immortality. Why don't we just develop the nano machines necessary to prevent aging and stop worrying about demographics....

Thursday, 04 November, 2010  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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