Geminoid F. Image Source: Time.
Again, the aspect of poised feminine passivity that Geminoid F presents sets off every horror movie alarm bell in my head. I expect her passive demeanour to explode suddently into violent, threatening action, like Pris or Zhora.Imagine a world where robots conduct traffic, work in factories, make sushi and vacuum office floors. It may not be far away. In Japan, robots are already common fixtures, and the latest prototypes come ever closer to the line separating man from machine. This week, during her first visit to Hong Kong, female android Geminoid F chatted, sang and smiled while an awestruck crowd snapped photos. Her creator, Japanese robotics guru Hiroshi Ishiguro, programmed her built-in computer with 65 behaviors, making her one of the world’s most intelligent robots.
Ishiguro last made international headlines in 2006 when he made an android replica of himself, the Geminoid HI-1. For his pioneering work, CNN named him one of eight “geniuses who will change your life,” and the BBC chronicled his story in the 2008 documentary Man-Machine. Ishiguro says his new robot F, as he’s named her, is more elegant and approachable than his past creations.
The biggest difference between Ishiguro’s copy of himself and F are the number of actuators, or motor-like mechanisms, that control behaviors. Geminoid HI-1 boasts about 50, while F has only 12. This has dropped the cost from more than $1 million to $110,000, which Ishiguro hopes will help popularize the product. Scientists were able to simulate human-like behaviors using electronic signals in the robot’s built-in computer. The robotic twin can smile, frown and furrow her eyebrows, but most of the time the silicone-skinned clone just looks a little dazed.
... Will robots ultimately become our friends — or even intimate companions? Ishiguro is betting on it. He says that with the right technology, he can build androids that think, act and react like people. “What is a human?” he asks. “Please define, and we will make a copy.”
The android may be as step back for feminism, too, given that the reports about her immediately tagged her as a new sex toy. Below the jump, you can see the android singing quite convincingly and modeling clothing in a department store in Tokyo. She has also acted on stage with human actors; an American actress who worked with Geminoid F felt that the android lacked a "human presence" and made her "feel alone" on stage.
Geminoid F with the actress whom she was designed to resemble. Image Source: AFP via Daily Mail.
Geminoid F serenades the crowd during Hong Kong's Robots in Motion 2012 Expo. Video Source: Youtube.
At a department store in Tokyo. Video Source: Youtube.
Geminoid F and its/her human source. Video Source: Youtube.
Geminoid F beneath her skin. Video Source: Youtube.
Geminoid H1 and its/his human source. Video Source: Youtube.