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Robotics News

Japanese Develop 'Female' Android 682

jolyon writes "The BBC is reporting that Japanese scientists have unveiled the most human-looking robot yet devised - a "female" android called Repliee Q1. 'She' has flexible silicone for skin rather than hard plastic, can flutter her eyelids, move her hands like a human and even appears to breathe. She can only sit though at present, so we're a long way from Blade Runner yet."
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Japanese Develop 'Female' Android

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  • by ettlz ( 639203 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @06:08AM (#13183948) Journal
    I don't believe you lot. Yet it doesn't surprise me. Someone develops an android, and all you can think of is, "Ooh! A MIPS R3000 based sex-machine! She can run on my firmware any day of the week, if you know what I'm saying... woo-hey!"
  • Cherry 2000 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by senocular ( 519317 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @06:08AM (#13183949)
    Don't worry. Before long Melanie Griffith will come along and show us the advantages and importance of a human companion.
  • by mongoose(!no) ( 719125 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @06:09AM (#13183960)
    And you wonder why their population is going down...

    (No, I don't know what the population growth of japan is.)

    Honestly, that is where this will probably lead. No one really would care about making something that realistic with fluttering eyes, etc. if it was only going to be used as for example, a service robot.
  • by Aqua OS X ( 458522 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @06:14AM (#13183975)
    "Welcome to the Hall of Presidents" ... that's all I have to say about this stupid robot.

  • by AndroidCat ( 229562 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @06:40AM (#13184053) Homepage
    Ha, since when have male fantasies about females involved realism?

    And here's to you, Mrs. Robotison...
    Mr. McGuire: There's a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?

  • by DerWulf ( 782458 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @06:57AM (#13184108)
    look, it's all about the wang. Deal with it. If the funds for developing AI and robotics come from pr0n venture capitalists so be it. Lets have the seks first and wonder about useful applications later. It's the way of the internet, vcr and dvds.
  • by ErikZ ( 55491 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @07:05AM (#13184126)
    Most geeks won't be able to afford the latest model android GF, and will have to wait until the price goes down. Until then they can extend the life of their current bio-girl with silicone upgrades.

    Seriously, I think it would be really interesting if the future android market followed along the lines of the PC market.

    A few big name corporations that provide cheap models designed to be appealing to a broad range of people.

    Those with technical skills will buy the parts online and learn to train the AI on their own. More work, but the quality of the parts are superior. The androids last much longer because their owner knows them inside and out, and can upgrade/replace parts as needed.

    It would be kind of creepy to get a metal skeleton in the mail though. And you know that one guy who has 7 PCs? You walk into their apartment and it's like a gathering of bikini models in various stages of dysfunction.
  • by DerWulf ( 782458 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @07:08AM (#13184133)
    'fraid so. But look at the bright side: your guy-friends will really be your friends and not just, you know, trying to get into your panties. A whole new era of spiritually satisfying platonic relationships is about to begin!

    Upside for men: Women won't control the hot hot seks anymore, like they've done for thousands of years. Will make for more stable relationships of equals ;)

    Hookers though, well, it's really gonna be tough for them ...
  • by pugnatious ( 675443 ) <> on Thursday July 28, 2005 @07:08AM (#13184139)
    not to mentions the flat chest
  • by Infernal Device ( 865066 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @07:19AM (#13184174)
    And this is a problem, why?

    Look, considering that this is the most female action some people can aspire to, that perhaps 10% of humanity is actually worth saving, and a whole lot of other cynical reasons, I say good luck, go to it, and bring on the fembots.

    We had our chance. Let the robots inherit the earth. It's not like they're getting a great deal.

  • by Stephen Williams ( 23750 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @07:20AM (#13184179) Journal
    You're kidding, right? Even inanimate objects find me repulsive.

  • by Fulcrum of Evil ( 560260 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @07:45AM (#13184235)

    Gives a new meaning to "clusterfuck", doesn't it?

    That sounds exhausting, actually.

  • by FlopEJoe ( 784551 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @07:47AM (#13184246)
    "Most geeks won't be able to afford the latest model android GF, and will have to wait until the price goes down."

    Dude... I couldn't afford my last real world GF. Maintenance on this droid can't be nearly as much as her. Heck, I'm having a hard enough time getting Barbara in GTA:SA to 100%. She's a chubby chaser and I hate packing on the pounds and dropping them.

  • by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Thursday July 28, 2005 @08:11AM (#13184332)

    If it were an American female android, they would have to add the bitchiness, "I deserve ____", and then you get to loose your house that you worked for and bought and a good chunk of your income monthly as severance pay until she finds someone else to extort. The American female android would also cost a bunch more for the extra development by Indian programmers to add the American female characteristic algorithms. Oh, and they will be mass produced, so if your American female android becomes inoperable because of an "accident", the new one will be the same as the old one.

    (Note, I have never been married. This is based on my observations over the years of other marriages and the 3 women I've lived with.)
  • by AllenChristopher ( 679129 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @08:19AM (#13184367)
    "More importantly, we have found that people forget she is an android while interacting with her. Consciously, it is easy to see that she is an android, but unconsciously, we react to the android as if she were a woman."

    So, regardless of the old research into the Uncanny Valley, we have here some fellows who have made such a robot. It doesn't really look human, but it's very, very close. It should be smack in the middle of the valley, but look! People forget it's a robot and start interacting with it as if it were a person.

    This has always seemed more likely to me. We don't respond to monkeys as if they were repulsive. We adore them. Monkeys are very cute.

    I think maybe the issue with the uncanny valley is that if certain specific things are wrong, the simalucrum looks like it's an individual with a disease. Many computer animations of human faces look like people with some sort of brain damage. The animators try to push the puppets harder than pupptery will accept.

    This is often because the animator is trying to push the entire illusion of lipsync and emotion through facial expressions. In life, people don't really move their lips all that much. A good animator knows to keep the body moving so that the face doesn't have to do all the acting. A bad animator works out the lipsync and sticks it on a relatively still model, then starts overdriving it when it isn't convincing.

    Puppets can be startingly human without being repulsive to more than a small portion of the population. Granted, there are people with an irrational fear of marionettes, but there are people who are afraid of balloons too.

    In the end, the issues involved are so subtle, I'm more ready to blame the artistry of Mori's robots for having been repulsive than accept the idea that models which are similar to humans, but not quite there, are *inherently* repusive.

    Concluding that his research proves the existence of the uncanny valley is rather like looking at the response to Anime fanart and concluding that the more stylized a representation is, the more horrible it is. In point of fact, most fanartists just aren't very good. I think Mori's research just shows there weren't any good Robotic Face Designers yet.

  • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @09:29AM (#13184884) Homepage
    One of the things about a valley is that it sticks up on both sides. People frequently misinterpret his research as a warning that the closer we get to looking human, The more wrong it will look. But that's not what he said... he said there was a region where people were forgiving of things that didn't look human, considering them impressions of humans, and regions where people scrutinize things more highly. And in this second region, if you are not highly accurate in your representation, people will respond more negatively than they would to a less accurate representation, as they are judging it by different standards.

    However, none of that says that as we get closer to looking human, the worse things will look, just that we judge things by different standards. And we may just be on the other side of that valley.

  • by golodh ( 893453 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @10:48AM (#13185685)
    I am not a biologist, but I feel that the 'uncanny valley' idea makes sense and would like to suggest a possible rationale for the existence of the 'uncanny valley'.

    I believe that the 'uncanny valley' can be understood as meaning that people judge objects (tools, toys, furniture, mechanical looking robots), plants, and animals by very different standards than other humans.

    Objects, plants, humans are, I think, judged by: are they harmful, are they useful, are they cute?

    Other humans are judged with a view to the fact that they may either compete with us or assist us. I mean competition in a biological sense (food, shelter,mates), and in a societal sense (place in a group).

    Now there is a strong tendency to refer to other humans in 'them-and-us' terms. The 'thems' usually being viewed negatively since they are a potential threat.

    Even tiny differences between humans (e.g. skin colour, eye fold, language, culture) can lead to their being identified as 'thems' and as threats. Take racism, nationalism, and religious fundamentalism for example.

    Now the more human-like qualities an object gains, the more the rules for judging other humans would apply, and the greater the chance of the 'object' falling afoul of one of the many triggers for antipathy that humans have towards other humans.

    What do you think?
  • by DigitumDei ( 578031 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @10:54AM (#13185747) Homepage Journal
    I have no problem with a country limiting who's allowed to live there (taking up jobs and land etc).

    I do have a problem with someone (the person I originally replied to) implying that there is a lot of immigration into Japan, and then going on to imply that it's racist to claim otherwise.

    Was just pointing out that he cannot claim there is a lot of immigration into Japan, not commenting on morality of their laws.
  • by JohnG307 ( 695948 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @11:03AM (#13185842)
    I disagree, this android is not "smack in the middle" of the Uncanny Valley. She is in fact, to the right of it-- she is too human looking to be considered in the Valley. In my mind, something that looks very very human is only creepy when it's immediately and obviously NOT human.

    TFA says that it's possible that this thing could fool people into thinking she's real for ten seconds or so. This says to me that what would give her away is her mannerisms and actions, not the way she looks. You could stare at a picture of her all day long and not realize she wasn't human.

    Something that is smack in the middle of the Valley is something more like the characters in The Polar Express animated movie. They do look very human, but there's something you can't quite put your finger on that lets you know immediately that they are not human at all. And that's what is so disturbing.

    A Character Shot from The Polar Express []
  • Ugh.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by midnightblaze ( 788520 ) * <.juancnuno. .at.> on Thursday July 28, 2005 @02:13PM (#13188089) Homepage
    She's sitting too far into the Uncanny Valley [] for me.
  • by randyflood ( 183756 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @02:33PM (#13188321) Homepage Journal

    You know, it's not like robots are so unique...

    I was told by some head hunters when they were training for how to do sucessful job interviews that studies have shown that women who are very attractive are sometimes discriminated *against* by people. That is one of the reasons that they will tell people to dress well, but on the conservative side for job interviews.

    Maybe it has to do with people not wanting to create the perception that they hired someone because they were attracted to them? Or, it could be that they are trying to repress their own feelings, or whatever.

    Likewise, in some cases, if you had a beautiful female robot, some people would perhaps be repulsed because they would be trying to deny their feelings of attraction.

    Finally, I bet there are some people out thier are repulsed by homosexuals as a way to repress their own feelings.

    This doesn't imply that there should not be pretty women, homosexuals, or realistic robots. It just means that people have feelings for complicated reasons.

    But, in any case, kids these days will hardly bat an eyelash at an android. It's really only people in certain psychographic groups that would be uncomfortable. Remember when you were afraid to turn on the computer for fear of breaking it? Well, there are still people like that in the world. But, there are a whole lot more people who aren't like that then ever before. And those people like the thought of a realistic robot.

  • by sTalking_Goat ( 670565 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @02:38PM (#13188385) Homepage
    before somebody starts selling artificial child sex slaves in some country where there isn't a law for that.

    I wasn't aware there was a law for that in this country (USA). I'd argue if its stops pedos from seeking out real victims then they can sell all they want.

  • by jkiryako ( 643156 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @03:04PM (#13188659)
    From the Real Dolls FAQ:

    Question: What sort of people buy REALDOLL?

    REALDOLL customers include futurists, artists, art collectors, film-makers, scientists, health professionals, housewives -- you name it.

    Ummm.. yeah.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.