The answer from professor Hiroshi Ishiguro from Osaka University is yes. Professor Ishiguro presented his latest creation, an Android robot at GMIC Beijing. Professor Ishiguro has recently been nominated as one of the 50 most influential scientists in Asia. “Avatars will deliver messages to sick people, visit conferences and work in department stores” says Professor Ishiguro. Though this sounds like science fiction, this might happen faster than we think.
Recently, a female android, looking elegant and holding a mobile phone, was placed behind a window in a Tokyo store. People were told she had a Twitter account. Very soon she had over 100 followers, 10 of whom said they were in love! Another android was displayed in HK, singing famous songs and people went crazy about it.
Professor Ishiguro says that in the near future we are going to see and use androids for more human-like interactions. He is now sending his Android to foreign countries to attend and speak at conferences. The avatar is remotely operated by the professor through the internet.
Are we at the dawn of a robot society? And how will it look like? Professor Ishiguro predicts that robots’ most immediate and popular deployment will be talking to people. He has recently designed and employed a small doll-size robot that, when connected to your mobile phone, becomes the avatar of the person you are talking to. You feel the presence of the speaker by giving shape and expression to a simple phone conversation. This is proving very useful for elderly and patients who feel lonely. As robots will become autonomous, Professor Ishiguro says that the next frontier will be understand what does it mean to be human. What does it mean to have a heart and mind? An android will give us a chance to think about these things.
Author: Marco Gervasi