Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Robotics Hardware Entertainment Science Technology

Robot Actress Makes Stage Debut In Japan 140

Posted by timothy
from the just-a-wee-bit-freaky dept.
Robotron23 writes "The BBC reports that a robot named Geminoid-F has made its acting debut (video) in Japan. The short play in which it appeared was a sellout with the Japanese public, who were curious to see the robot's performance. However an actress who co-starred pointed out that the lack of human presence made the droid difficult to act alongside."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Robot Actress Makes Stage Debut In Japan

Comments Filter:
  • by AnonymousClown (1788472) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:43AM (#34228480)
    The video picks on the android's acting skills, but I tell ya, give her bigger boobs and she'd be a natural for porn!

    Oh Yeah! Japanese robot porn!

    RULE 34!

    • Oh come on. That's not even Rule 34 worthy - that's just "Japan".

      Rule 34 would be taking 5 or 6 of these things, making them have a massive orgy inside an F-22 Bomb-bay only to climax and spew battery acid all over the citizens of some city which inadvertantly destroys all their clothes which gets everyone horny and breaks out into an even bigger orgy.

      And if that's not a rule 34 - then it's a Rule 35.

    • The "skin" on the robot can be virtually anything so...

      How 'bout giving the "actress du jour" some extra publicity?

      It could be colored (and multi-colored at that,) a nice Navii blue.

      In fact, it could be giving war news from the war zone. "She done blowed up real good!"

      Why use a human being at all?

      We could get our financial news from "Goofy©(TM)®", describing the Wall street latest melt down that has just wiped out your life's savings.

      How about "Donald Duck©(TM)®" giving us the political

  • by Starteck81 (917280) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:44AM (#34228490)
    I would go on to have a thousand and four season run.
  • So when will we be able to have Calculon?

  • Scary (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Yvan256 (722131) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:45AM (#34228498) Homepage Journal

    The Uncanny Valley Effect [wikipedia.org] is strong with this one.

    • I, for one, welcome our creepy robotic overlords.
    • Reminds me of the scene in Terminator where they had an animatronic head of Arnold Schwarzenegger plucking out its eye.
    • by IICV (652597)

      Seriously! Just look at that thing's primary manipulation appendage at about 0:22 to 0:25 - the wrist is completely wrong, the hand is not the hand of a thing that has ever lived. It's just plain horrifying.

      Faces are one thing, and a lot of researchers have focused on getting those really good, so as long as the thing isn't moving it's actually passable. Hands, however, seem to currently be completely unreproducible. (even in games! Most NPCs have what seem to be sticky blobs with tendrils on the ends of th

      • by bronney (638318)

        Buddy why do you fixate on the hands so much? For me though, I find their blinking crappy. It's not so hard to make a 1/500s blink with a servo is it?? Camera shutters do it all the time why can't they make the blinks more natural?

        • by Carewolf (581105)

          I thought it looked like it was blinking intentionally slow. I would not be surprised if it had bedroom eyes on purpose.

          • by arth1 (260657)

            Well, I guess it will attract lots of cats then.

            But anyhow, I'm perplexed to read through 70+ comments here, and not find a single reference to Idoru.

      • by Grr (15821)
        In games it's a matter of level of detail though (either for the CPU/memory or simply workload for the animators). A body skeleton typically consists of around 30 bones. If two hands with 5 fingers get 3 bones extra that doubles the load for relatively little effect. For a single player character it's still worth it. For NPCs it typically does not make the cut.
        In animation each bone typically has 6 degrees of freedom so it is no problem to copy any hand movement. Doing the same with servos in robots at a
      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Faces are one thing, and a lot of researchers have focused on getting those really good, so as long as the thing isn't moving it's actually passable. Hands, however, seem to currently be completely unreproducible.

        Which is is puzzling to me. I would think a lot more research would be done on useable, lifelike robotic hands for amputees.

        • Seriously dude, do you think doctors are the kind of people who give a shit about somebody's hands? Amputees are lucky to get the hooks. (But you shouldn't wonder about the "incredibly lifelike dildos" and the "Fleshlight"!)

  • by The Wild Norseman (1404891) <tw.norseman@gmail. c o m> on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:50AM (#34228518)

    Actually, the first robot actor ever was Keanu Reeves.

  • The director said that this was the future of theater. You could have robots acting the way you envision it, without having to care with all the problems human actors tend to bring with him.
    I saw it on the Japanese TV last night. My opinion is that if he doesn't like directing actors, he should look for another job.

    • by mug funky (910186) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:56AM (#34228550)

      if the bot's performance is the sum total of the director's intent, they will suck.

      directors prefer certain actors over others because of what they bring and how they interpret the material.

      a director that is under the illusion of having complete control is a nightmare to work with, and they produce crap. ...that said, this robot's giving better performances than some i've seen.

      • it's a good idea, but until you see a really good director screw it up it's a bit of a shot in the dark, i'm sure that at least one director as ruled with an iron fist and pushed out a good movie or two
      • if the bot's performance is the sum total of the director's intent, they will suck.

        directors prefer certain actors over others because of what they bring and how they interpret the material.

        a director that is under the illusion of having complete control is a nightmare to work with, and they produce crap. ...that said, this robot's giving better performances than some i've seen.

        Playing devil's advocate for a minute... what if the crap from control-freak directors happens only because they are attempting the impossible task of executing their vision through a human actor? What if you had a director with a complete and vivid image for how he wanted a role played, down to the last detail, and the technological wherewithal to implement that vision without needing to harangue a human actor into doing it for him? If you beat the uncanny valley, maybe it wouldn't suck. In fact, the creat

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      I bet he would love to work with CNC mills.

    • Has no one read The Darfstellar? This can only end in a human actor getting shot.
      • by Bucc5062 (856482)

        I have. In fact there was a line in that story that carries with me till today. The technician talking with teh actor in the projection room. The actor asks, "what happens when they make a black box to replace you". The tech replied, "I'd learn to make the black box."

        Robots replacing actors, programs replacing programmers...the key is trying to look down the road and see what is coming so you can learn to "make the black box", the next change. Like any good/great Scifi, that book changed my view for a

    • by hal2814 (725639)
      The director is right. This will be so popular that the robots could form a band and do a variety show. And just to get more people in the door, they could also serve pizza and have some kids games like Skee Ball and arcade machines and rides. And they could call it... Showbiz Pizza. The future is here indeed.
    • Lame article. A remote controlled robot will only ever be able to act as well as the person controlling it (and currently, it acts far worse).
      Assuming it actually COULD act on it's own, and believably so, it still wouldn't replace human actors untill interfacing with it becomes more intuitive than simply yelling "I NEED MORE EMOTIONS!" at a real actor, who can actually, like, understand language, and has half a clue what these "emotions" even are.
      The fact that the real actor states that it feels like bein
  • by smoothnorman (1670542) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:56AM (#34228548)
    The thing is tethered with all manner of control cables, so it's just a high-tech puppet. Was howdy-doody a "robot"? ...and did buffalo-bob suffer a lack of 'human presence' with the marionette he had to act with?, hell-no. thems was proper saucy-puppet-shows back in the stone age... yep.
    • I wish you could be modded up to 10. I've had the same problem with those battle bots shows; they're not robots, for geek's sake, they're remote controlled vehicles with remote controlled weapons systems. Cool and fun, but unless they stalk and kill their prey or defend themselves using pre-programmed algorithms (or learn to do so using pre-programmed algorithms), they're not robots.
  • In Japan there is apparently no Ship of Theseus-like paradox (at least if Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams is to be believed; not sure what appearance of said paradox in Ghost in the Shell might mean) - the essence of given object is quite firmly not related to materials from which it is (currently...) composed.

    I wonder if such "robots" can/will be viewed by as the birth of "androids" - if some were to be constantly worked on, that is.

    • by hitmark (640295)

      GITS is carped bombed with references to western philosophy. I suspect it is much in the same way as how often a katana shows up in a hollywood action (in the hands of a aryan war god(dess) no less).

  • acting in the role of Caprica Six
  • Elephant in the room (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 0olong (876791) on Monday November 15, 2010 @03:04AM (#34228578)
    I don't understand why Japan is so obsessed with creating androids, while (arguably) the most essential technology behind enabling interaction with humans; the AI field of Natural Language Processing is being glossed over (or at least not getting the amount of attention it deserves). Not just computers, but humans too (and Japanese people in particular) tend to have great difficulty handling the barriers that foreign languages pose to vast amounts of useful foreign data. A successful grammar independent NLP framework for data representation, now that should be a goal to focus on. Everywhere, but in particular in insular countries like Japan. Sorry for wandering off topic...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wizardforce (1005805)

      Japan's population is aging and getting smaller. From Japan's point of view, it makes sense to augment society's ability to cope with the increased workload by developing robots capable of doing a lot of the work.

      • by hitmark (640295) on Monday November 15, 2010 @05:36AM (#34228998) Journal

        The natural response to that would be to allow more foreign workers in, but Japan have a very long history of xenophobia. I recall reading about someone that would avoid mentioning what part of the city he lived in, as it used to be the a Korean district in feudal times and still carried a social stigma.

        • Additionally, in case of Japan, the fear of immigration also probably involves a dose of claustrophobia.
        • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

          by MacGyver2210 (1053110)

          It seems like for whatever reason, Japan doesn't trust foreigners to respect its traditions. In doing so, they completely disrespect the foreigners without giving them a chance. It's nearly a no-win situation with the only viable solution being to maintain a work visa for long enough to marry someone Japanese (and then wait some more) or just wait it out long enough to be granted citizenship (often 10 years or more).

          Even this won't often stop the prejudice like "No Foreigner" shops and restaurants, or exten

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            It seems like for whatever reason, Japan doesn't trust foreigners to respect its traditions. In doing so, they completely disrespect the foreigners without giving them a chance.

            My understanding of most foreign cultures is flawed, as the subset of most cultures I'm familiar with is restricted to "those who visit Disney World" where I worked for five years. But the Japanese I met in Florida seemed to have absolutely no respect whatever for our culture or traditions, and were without exeption the rudest people

      • by 0olong (876791)

        From Japan's point of view, it makes sense to augment society's ability to cope with the increased workload by developing robots capable of doing a lot of the work.

        Capable androids require NLP. Maybe a car analogy might help you: they're trying to invent an automobile by designing windshields and dashboards, instead of developing a working engine.

        • by urusan (1755332)

          A better analogy would be that they are trying to build cars using steam engines. The core technology isn't quite there yet, but there's not much that chassis developers can do to speed that up. In the meanwhile, they'll try things out and maybe they'll find some use for what they do come up with (if we put these steam cars on rails...) and maybe they'll come up with some useful stuff that speeds up development when the core technology matures (we need better lubrication than tallow for all these mechanical

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      the AI field of Natural Language Processing is being glossed over

      If you created the perfect female sex robot and taught it to argue with you, what's the point?

    • If you watch further (and maybe understand some of what the director is saying) the android *IS* voice controlled.

      There is plenty of work in Japan going toward speech processing both inbound and outbound. Vocaloid was an accidental discovery while trying to synthesize realistic human voice for an android.

      Japan has a problem getting its next generations to take care of the previous aging generations that need assistance, so they are turning to robots to take over this niche. There are actually many domestic

    • I don't understand why Japan is so obsessed with creating androids, while (arguably) the most essential technology behind enabling interaction with humans; the AI field of Natural Language Processing is being glossed over

      Because we're doing all of that stuff. Look at the turing test, westerners love it!

      A large part of our communication is in body language. They're just focusing on making that possible from the robots perspective when we get around to it.

    • by KDR_11k (778916)

      These are projects run by single dudes, that's enough to take an animatronic puppet, add a bit of programming and sell it as a robot but it's not enough to research properly difficult subjects like AI. Also it gets you in the news when your bot looks like a human, people got bored of AI advances in toy robots long ago and most laymen don't understand the difficulties the researchers have overcome.

  • Maybe she should star in yet another remake of the Stepford wives, only this time it is valuable robots being replaced by humans.

  • The Geminoid-F is an android, i.e. made to strongly resemble humans. When I first read the summary I thought it meant something like Asimo acting.
  • I was going to comment that she surely was the first robot stage actor, but wiki tells me Keanu played Mercutio in high school.

  • The question you should be asking now is, can she sing and dance? Cause from the look of things, the HRP-4C has it beat on both counts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcZJqiUrbnI [youtube.com]
    • Yes... they've invented a robot who can do the White Girl Shuffle. Call me when they have a robot who can do everything the background dancers were.

  • ... when you can already attend concerts with a singing and dancing virtual pop star [slashdot.org] that is only about half as creepy?

  • She's programmed to be very busy right now.
    • Combine a flash video with a busy site and that's what you get. Why can't they just put a link to a mpeg file and let the browser use the normal video player?

      Anyhow, the BBC being slashdotted seems a bit too much for me. If they want real time video they should first make sure that their servers can send out the bits at whatever rate is required.

  • It's an animatronic, not a robot. The kind that theme parks have.
    • by dintech (998802)

      OK, so it's Westworld rather Terminator. I'm still scared.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by NoBullet (1940666)
      Yeah i was about to say this. And Disney's is a helluva lot more impressive. Funny how the japanese version shakes around when it moves its head. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LepI9g62N7o [youtube.com]
    • True. This thing is only capable of doing its one task (read script of facial/body movements and voice). The title might as well read, "Repurposed cash register with fancy face plate makes Stage Debut in Japan". Now if it can read the actions of other actors and deliver its lines based on their reactions, that is something completely different.

  • Can someone explain the obsession that the Japanese have with white people? It's like some form of self-inflicted racism or something. I don't get it.

    • First and foremost... by "cacasion" assume you meant "Caucasian", because using the root of "caca" that would be implying you think that robot looked like shit. (I mean this in the most humorous/friendly of ways haha)

      Secondly, if you want to know, certain studies [arstechnica.com] have shown that it is easier to recognize people that share (your) same race. It is not racism, it is art...if you were surrounded by people that were purple for most of your life, you'd likely model a purple robot with purple skin and purplish f

      • by aiht (1017790)
        It seems the GP's tragically variable spelling skills have distracted you from his main thesis.
        He's actually asking why the 'robot' (or android, or animatronic monster, or what-have-you) was made to look Caucasian, and not Japanese.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          There's a weird idolization of white people in the Japanese culture that I've noticed among friends from that country. As a culture, they try to emulate whatever's better than them, and for some reason, dropping an atomic bomb on them convinced them that western culture was better.

          That said, I do know Japanese people who do have that skin complexion, and the eyes are ambiguous, so there's nothing to say that the robot is supposed to be caucasian at all. It could simply be modeled after a Japanese person who

        • He's actually asking why the 'robot' (or android, or animatronic monster, or what-have-you) was made to look Caucasian, and not Japanese.

          That makes sense...
          But to me it would seem Japanese if it weren't for the hair, so now I am seeing this in a new light also...
          ...I wonder if this was done for some sort of marketing appeal?

    • It could be a commercial thing. Japan exports a lot of electronics and most it is aimed at westerners. It wouldn't pay for the robot to be designed to look Asian, even though its just a skin they stick on to the outside.

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      Same reason all anime characters are Caucasion -- They aren't, you're just insular and programmed to recognize things of your own race. They actually much more closely match the traits of the Japanese, but because they don't match your own stereotypes of the Japanese very well (lemme guess, #1 thing you're looking for is they eyes, as opposed to say nose and jawline), they look more like white people to you. So it's not self-inflicted racism and an an obsession with white people on the part of the Japanes

  • I don't know much since most of the materials are in Japanese, but I think before this it is called Actroid F. There is a Youtube video on the late testing phase of Actroid F [youtube.com]. Three months ago I also saw two [youtube.com] obscure videos [youtube.com] with translated title "Long Distance Service Terenoido" which I believe shows the early prototype of the robot. Through the videos of the naked robot we can see pretty clear why the robot can only sit still and not move it's hand.
  • This is Jim Henson's muppets on steroids. It's an advanced and complex machine to be sure, but it doesn't do anything on its own. As the article shows/says, it is controlled by a person remotely. I fail to see the difference between this and any other puppet. There are robots that are programmed to respond to its environment, but this doesn't seem to be one of them. I don't think it's fair to characterize this as a "robot actor" until it can act. Wakamaru is a better actor.

    • by ultranova (717540)

      I fail to see the difference between this and any other puppet.

      Well, Kermit has more charisma and looks less creepy.

      I don't think it's fair to characterize this as a "robot actor" until it can act.

      Why hold the poor robot to a higher standard than a human?

  • However an actress who co-starred pointed out that the lack of human presence made the droid difficult to act alongside

    There are actors who've acted quite successfully alongside empty spaces - where the other character(s) will be added in later either manually or by CGI. They have to imagine the reactions.

    Perhaps she's just not very talented?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by am 2k (217885)

      Or perhaps it wasn't easy for those actors as well.

    • Acting alongside an empty space is a *lot* easier than acting alongside a robot that isn't actually looking at you, but rather through you. You can imagine something in the empty space and play against it, but when there's actually something in that spot that you're supposed to play against, it's nearly impossible to set up a proper dynamic when it isn't playing against you.

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman both pointed out the difficulty of acting vs a green screen for the Star Wars prequels, and they certainly aren't the only ones.

      So maybe they're just not very talented, or it actually is difficult.

      • Well if they can do it (and I mentioned above that some can do it) they're clearly more talented than someone who complains that they can't, you fuckwad.

  • by michelcolman (1208008) on Monday November 15, 2010 @05:52AM (#34229036)
    Seriously, can't they do better than that? A puppet sitting still, slowly moving its arms, lips and eyelids? Remote control from back stage? Did we somehow teleport back 20 years or so? There are already robots that can walk around and do all sorts of movements based on real time autonomous decisions, surely you can make one that does a series of realistic, pre-programmed movements for a play?!
    • None of them are truly bipedal AND look humanoid with everything down to facial expressions, and any bipedal robot is unstable at best. I can imagine it would be far worse to have a walking robot fall over and not get up than it would be to have it just remain seated.

      I'm pretty sure the cables are just power, audio, and pneumatic air to drive the movement actuators.

      • Well, TFA says that the actions of the robot were controlled from behind the scenes by a human. I do agree that actually walking around might have proven difficult (even the best models do still fall over from time to time), but this robot barely moves at all! And the movements that it does make, are jerky. In the video, it looks like the robot is not even moving its arm, but the actress is holding it. This is technology from a few decades ago.
    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      20 years ago, ever been to the hall of presidents? they are not that less conviencing and that is 1960's "robot" tech

      speaking of which how is this the first? 50 years of animatronics anyone?

  • by billius (1188143) on Monday November 15, 2010 @06:27AM (#34229142)
    I fail to see how this is any different than Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln [wikipedia.org], which Disney brought to the World's Fair in 1964. I suppose you have the added element of a human actor working alongside the animatronic, but I didn't see anything interesting. Mostly I just found the thing creepy...
  • by stimpleton (732392) on Monday November 15, 2010 @06:35AM (#34229164)
    The play went well, and the Robot actress was surprisingly seamless in her role.

    There were a few hushed gasps when she snagged her blouse and revealed her arms were, in fact, two "Goal Keeper" Gatling guns, but apart from that, it was an enjoyable display of technology meets art.
  • The video link produced a commercial. I don't watch video commercials on the Internet...in fact I don't watch many commercials on TV either. Hence I wasn't able to see the robot.

    • by Combatso (1793216)
      oh no! an advertisement on the internet? what is this world coming to.. when will these people learn, commercial free media content is a basic human right
  • Has prior art!

Is a person who blows up banks an econoclast?

Working...