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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 bheer ( 633842 ) <<rbheer> <at> <>> on Thursday July 28, 2005 @06:03AM (#13183925)
    The US and Britain have decided that immigration is a better way to solve their labor/population problems since culturally they have a history of dealing with other cultures.

    It's no surprise that the ethnically much more isolationist Japanese wouldn't like unskilled immigration all that much, even though they suffer from a much worse population problem. Hence, robots...

    (take this sweeping generalization with a grain of salt, just pointing out that you don't need a galaxy to play out some SF themes, Earth is room enough.)
  • by ReformedExCon ( 897248 ) <> on Thursday July 28, 2005 @06:07AM (#13183939)
    There is a scene in Terminator where the rise of the machines is discussed and how the robots were unable at first to infiltrate the human ranks. The reason was primarily that the rubber skin didn't look sufficiently human to fool real humans.

    On the other hand, the animators of Toy Story 2 recognized the problem of human replication as the innate ability of humans to recognize when something is amiss with images of humans that were "too perfect". The result is that they decided to give the human characters in the movie not-so-perfect skin, even down to details like acne and pock marks.

    Take the Final Fantasy movie as an example of utterly fake looking CG characters. Everything looks fine, as long as you try to think of the characters as cartoons. However, the instant you think that they are humans, the whole illusion falls apart under its own perfection.

    This robot may look human, but any human should be able to recognize it as something "other". As for human movement, the ASIMO is very far along in mimicking human movement.
  • Wow (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 28, 2005 @06:23AM (#13184013)
    This + Realdoll [] = Sex for geeks. Finally! A woman the we can understand, hack, program and make her love us! This is a dream com true!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 28, 2005 @06:24AM (#13184015)
    Apparently, sex dolls are really quite popular in Japan.

    A quick google leads to: "Orient Industry" [] [Warning: site has some pictures of nude dolls.]

    Could this be the reason that the Japanese birth rate is so low?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 28, 2005 @06:47AM (#13184074)
    It's all over the papers. "Teenager Arrested in Android Sex Scandal", "Hacker Arrested after Moral Module Tampering"...

    Damn kids. They're all alike.

    But did you, in your three-piece psychology and 1950's technobrain, ever take a look behind the eyes of a sexually frustrated teenage boy, a nerd? Did you ever wonder what made him tick, what forces shaped him, what may have molded him?

    I am a nerd, enter my world...

    Mine is a world that begins with school... I'm much smarter than most of the other kids and especially girls, this crap they teach us bores me...

    Damn underachiever. They're all alike.

    I'm in junior high or high school. I've listened to teachers explain for the fifteenth time how to reduce a fraction. I understand it. "No, Ms. Smith, I didn't show my work. I did it in my head..."

    Damn kid. Probably copied it. They're all alike.

    I made a discovery today. I found a female android. Wait a second, this is cool. It does what I want it to. If it makes a mistake, it's because I screwed it up. Not because it doesn't like me... Or feels threatened by me.. Or thinks I'm a smart ass.. Or thinks I'm butt-ugly... Or doesn't like teaching and shouldn't be here...

    Damn kid. All he does is play with cyborgs. They're all alike.

    And then it happened... a door opened to a world... rushing through the stairs like heroin through an addict's veins, I ran to my mom's basement where my cyborg is waiting for me... "This is it... this is where I belong..." I know everyone here... even if there's no one here but my cyborg... I know you... I love you...

    Damn kid. Playing in the basement again. They're all alike...

    You bet your ass we're all alike... we've been spoon-fed baby food at school when we hungered for steak... the bits of meat that you did let slip through were pre-chewed and tasteless. We've been dominated by sadists, or ignored by the apathetic. We've been ignored by girls who like us only as friends... We've been doing their homeworks for them, buying them flowers, asking them out, writing poems, and they still "don't want to ruin our frienship". The few wanted to talk to us, but those few are like drops of water in the desert.

    This is our world now... the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the cyborg. We make use of a service already existing without paying for what could be dirt-cheap if prostitution was legalized and it wasn't run by profiteering gluttons, and you call us criminals. We explore... and you call us criminals. We seek after pleasure... and you call us criminals. We exist without skin color, without nationality, without religious bias, without even leaving our bedroom... and you call us criminals. You build atomic bombs, you wage wars, you murder, cheat, and lie to us and try to make us believe it's for our own good, yet we're the criminals.

    Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me for. My crime is that of loving a cyborg. My crime is that of being too intelligent for girls who may call me "a needy and insecure sociopath" but they perfectly realize that they just feel stupid with me because I am so intelligent even at the age of fourteen and they know that I am a genius. I am too good for women.

    I am a nerd, and this is my manifesto. You may stop this individual, but you can't stop us all... after all, we're all alike.
  • Uncanny Valley... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tiluki ( 74844 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @06:58AM (#13184110)

    What is more scary is how "respulsed" you might be by it if it were too "hot"...

    This research recently backs up the findings of Mori in the '70's into the "Uncanny Valley" []

    Some of the videos I've seen of this work are quiet shocking. Some guy can come right up and touch the face and feel the android - which is really realistic - and so goes against every sort of social "personal space" rule (especially if you are Japaneese).

    (cue jokes on "valleys"...:-)

  • by RichDice ( 7079 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @07:13AM (#13184156)
    Don't feel badly. Women have had robotic replacements available to them for men for decades, and as far as I can tell, it's not like women date men less these days as a result. This only helps even things out.


    (*sigh* I feel dirty for even participating in this thread/line-of-thought...)

  • Office flowers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Richard Kirk ( 535523 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @07:36AM (#13184210)
    If you go to Tokyo, you will meet women who seem to do nothing all day but bow and say "irashimase!" in a high-pitched cartoon-mouse type voice. They do it in shops, by lifts, and in some offices. The best looking ones are promoted to 'office flowers' - people who apparently do nothing but look nice. ATM and ticket machines often have an animation of a bowing woman. Getting Joo Puburicu-san to treat an automaton like a woman may be no big deal - some of them have been tresting women like automata for years.

    And while we're on the subject, some of our fellow slashdotters could clean up their act a bit too...

  • by Smiffa2001 ( 823436 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @07:46AM (#13184239)

    Take the Final Fantasy movie as an example of utterly fake looking CG characters. Everything looks fine, as long as you try to think of the characters as cartoons. However, the instant you think that they are humans, the whole illusion falls apart under its own perfection.

    I really, really liked FF and thought pretty much the same as you. Backing your point up as well though was Dr. Sid's texturing which was done so well (liver spots, wrinkles as he was aged older) there are spots in the film where he does look indistinguishable. I'm just sad that Square chose not to continue on with their work in that manner...
  • by Conspiracy_Of_Doves ( 236787 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @08:19AM (#13184366)
    I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't want the robots that I interact with to look completly lifelike. I want to be able to easily distinguish them from other humans.
  • by tod_miller ( 792541 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @09:27AM (#13184862) Journal
    Monkeys look like monkey, not something in the uncanny valley though.

    Interesting post, but what youa re saying is, that the uncanny valley is invalid for this type of interaction.

    I think people do not 'forget they are interacting with a robot' but this is because the interaction is being forced through unfamiliar terms.

    We know how to treat a VCR, an ATM or a computer, but when the inputs are not mechnical, but based on something we have painstakingly developed so not to look weird (i.e. human interaction, vocal intercourse, oh matron) - then we find ourselves trying to deal with the situation in a comfortable way:

    1) feel stupid talking to a robot
    2) ignore the robot and talk to it like a drive through microphone

    Again, I am sure that 5x9's realism will hop over the uncanny valley, but this vacant staring, cold looking skin is close enough to a human that it triggers our 'intepret human' response, and we think, ZOMG look at that freak staring at nothing, and batting her eyelids at me...

    Don't worry, I once took a photo of an old guy sat at madam tussauds (I am sure he was planted there, because he sat so still, and his skin didn't look right, as if they had put some off coloured, non-refracting (hard) make-up on him.

    So if real people can look fake, then fake things shoudl be able to look real right?
  • by rbarreira ( 836272 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @09:29AM (#13184880) Homepage
    I wonder if you'll say the same when robots are indistinguishable from humans...
  • Arms Race (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @09:55AM (#13185106)
    And by arms I mean what sort of weaponry does she contain?

    I mean, sex bot is all well and good, but if she can also act as a ninja body guard with enough weapons to take out a hardened military target, well, where do I order?

  • Re:Uncanny Valley... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Intron ( 870560 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @10:05AM (#13185200)
    I once saw two street performers who did an excellent job of pretending to be robots. I felt this overwhelming repulsion and had to walk away. I didn't know it had a name before now, but it is not limited to robots imitating humans. The converse can also fall into the Uncanny Valley. Interestingly, I am not repulsed at all by artificial limbs (some of my best friends ...).
  • by DerWulf ( 782458 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @12:51PM (#13187044)
    I didn't know. Since you bring it up: in an ideal world, I would too. In this world I would score a win for every real child that doesn't become a sex slave due to robots.
  • by Onan ( 25162 ) on Thursday July 28, 2005 @03:17PM (#13188763)
    Actually, I think it's a little simpler than that.

    One of the most fundamental behaviours that evolution demands is successful reproduction. That's actually surprisingly complex thing to enforce in instinct: you don't need to just have a generic desire to fuck things, you need to pair that with a very strong ability to find the correct things to fuck. That means a whole lot of code to recognize members of the correct species and gender, and react very differently to them.

    This produces strong and complex responses to entities that appear to straddle or blur these lines. This is why transgendered people, anthropomorphic animals, and homosexual sex produce such strong and mixed reactions in people: they tickle this deeply ingrained border between what is fuckable and what is not. (Please note that I'm not taking a moral stance on any of these, or trying to suggest that they represent "mistakes of evolution" or any such nonsense.)

    Something that blurs the line between human and not (and particularly a human of your desired gender) seems as if it would obviously trigger this same response.

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.