How does Japan deal with it’s endemic robot population problem?

You may think you’re safe from robots. You may think you’d never be hunted down and killed. You may think you’d be able to tell a soft meaty human from hard metal robot. You’d be wrong!

Asimo, Honda’s amazing dancing robot, is cunningly disguised as a miniature astronaut. If you reflect for a moment and count the number of astronauts you’ve seen in real life, in the flesh – you’ll probably discover that the number is somewhere around zero. Come the revolution, when your robot overlords are marching down the street, their glowing red spotlight eyes sweeping from side to side, your chances of meeting a real life astronaut will have diminished even more. Let’s say your feasting on salvaged canned goods, in your secret sewer refuge, and suddenly an astronaut appears from the drainage pipe, well, it is now safe to assume this is Asimo and here’s here to kill you. If you accidentally murder an innocent astronaut feel free to lay the guilt at my door step.

Robots have been thinking long and hard about the problems outlined above. They’ve come to the conclusion that, much like the logical black hole that is Battlestar Galatica, they need robots that look like humans.

Akutoroido der

Akutoroido-der fantastic

(This undoubtedly is suppose to mean something in english but I can't figure it out a - cute - droid? have a guess)Akutoroido der is the lastest and greatest human robot. From a distance she looks like a slightly short human woman. She can speak four languages Japanese, Korean, Chinese and English. The demonstration I observed showed her being asked a variety of questions including “Do you have a boyfriend?”, to which she replied “No, but I’m looking”. I very much wanted to try this advertised “fluency” out. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be. The model that I was shown went in a spiel about her various abilities (all in Japanese), all my questions where ignored. That’s cold robot women for you.

Her current role in society is to infiltrate low skilled jobs where looking pretty and an ability to answer three or four questions are highly valued. This covers a surprisingly wide range of jobs. She can be placed in a variety of kiosks, from here she can direct lost customers, give out tickets, answer simple queries about the facility and other simple functions. She can also work as a new reader or generally announcer. She can also put down dogs.

Her face moves naturally as she speaks as if beneath the skin was muscle and sinew (this though would be of questionable ethic). Instead like all machines she’s made of stainless steel and bloodlust. When she looks directly at you – it’s extremely disconcerting and very human. She’s not advanced enough to understand the subtlies of eye contact and body language so the illusion is quickly broken. Still it’s somewhat like an escalator that’s stopped working and become stairs. You keep expecting the stopped escalator to start up again! Walking up the stairs gives you a very strange slightly dizzy feeling. That is the same feeling you get with this animatronic manikin that talks and looks at you.

It’s not just a skin deep similarity – she also blinks and uses hand gestures to accentuate the points she’s making. Newscasters of today should probably worry, as should kiosk ladies and prostitutes – you time has come!

Akutoroido der’s weak points

Her skin appears human from a distance but get up close and it’s a little fuzzy, like felt doll. An evil doll, that can walk and talk and that’s made out of felt – how’s that for a nightmare? Even though I didn’t get to test it – I’m almost positive her ability to interact using natural language will break and break often. Questions such as:

“What are we talking about?”, “Do you think this is an interesting conversation?”, “Who’s the most memorable customer you’ve had?”

unless programmed in, will cause problems. On the other hand how often do you ask the above questions to the last newscaster, kiosk lady or prostitute you used? Unlike many prostitutes this particular robot cannot walk, this currently gives her a low threat value on your which-robots-should-I-kill-o-meter. (always take out the Asimos first! They can kick!)

In conclusion this robot is worryingly human but her evil ways are subtle and in one on one combat you’ll probably win.

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