Dr. Ishiguro's new android friend at Global Future 2045

07/03/2013 - 00:00

A Japanese roboticist Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro is building androids to understand humans. One is an android version of a middle-aged family man — himself. 

Photo gallery of his androids at: http://www.geminoid.jp/en/robots.html
The robot, like the original, has a thin frame, a large head, furrowed brows, and piercing eyes that, as one observer put it, seem on the verge of emitting laser beams. The android is fixed in a sitting posture, so it can’t walk out of the lab and go fetch groceries. But it does a fine job of what it’s intended to do: mimic a person. 

Ishiguro controls this robot remotely, through his computer, using a microphone to capture his voice and a camera to track his face and head movements. When Ishiguro speaks, the android reproduces his intonations; when Ishiguro tilts his head, the android follows suit. The mechanical Ishiguro also blinks, twitches, and appears to be breathing, although some human behaviors are deliberately suppressed. In particular, when Ishiguro lights up a cigarette, the android abstains.