New Japanese Robot Ladies Still Fall Short Of Anime Fantasy, May Nonetheless Kill Us All
Fans of theUncanny Valley will be delighted to know that roboticists in Japan have taken another giant leap toward creeping us right the fuck out, with two new female-appearing androids that will be interacting with guests at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo. They look pretty darn lifelike in still photos, and considerably less so in video. The goal for these bots is to simulate some human movements smoothly, especially facial expressions; hand and arm movements still look considerably more machine-driven.
For now, hu-mons. For now.
One of the bots, Kodomoroid, is designed to deliver a daily news report at the museum, presenting as naturally as possible whatever is typed into it -- and by god, they don't get gender pronouns until they're sentient, although by then we may be too busy screaming to worry about distinctions between "she" and "it." The other, Otonaroid, sits in a chair and does something like conversation. Creepiest of all is "the minimally designed Telenoid, a mannequin head with pointed arms that serves as a cuddly companion." You know, if you're trying to induce dreams about H.R. Giger paintings that come to life and cuddle you. Until they crush your skull and assimilate your personality.
And look, video!
Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, an Osaka University robotics expert, said that the new bots will be useful in research on how people interact with robots:
"Making androids is about exploring what it means to be human," he told reporters Tuesday, "examining the question of what is emotion, what is awareness, what is thinking."
It is not known whether the two humanoid robots have yet been asked if they would trade all their superior computing power for the ability to feel love.
Ishiguro also said that Japan's emphasis in robotics is less missile-shooty than America's:
Reflecting widespread opinion, Ishiguro said Japan leads the world in playful companion robots. But he acknowledged the nation was behind the U.S. in military robots.
Developing robots for more than 20 years, Ishiguro has made a point of creating robots that approximate the human appearance, including creatures that look like him. He has sent them to give overseas lectures.
The increasingly realistic bots are not about to replace real women anytime soon; as a stopgap point in the research, Yr Wonkette would suggest that Ishiguro Sensei look into funding future research by setting up a kickstarter to develop robotic companions for Men's Rights Advocates, who may be far more satisfied with an approximation of a woman, which might also be a huge relief to real women around the world.
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