The Human Robot

Feb 16, 2024 | Technology, Videos

The Human Robot documentary explores the fascinating connection between biological and mechanical intelligence, and how that connection is reflected in different cultures. The filmmakers explore a range of robots, from the flashy, entertaining automatons of Tokyo’s Robot Restaurant to the hyper-real Geminoid designs that mimic their human counterparts with startling accuracy. As they interview roboticists, ethicists, philosophers and sociologists about robots and the ethical implications of their use, we learn that Japan has taken a very positive attitude towards technology, while Western culture tends to view robotics through a lens colored by religion.

Aibo robot pets are given “souls” in Japan, and when their bodies fail to function properly it is common for soul removal ceremonies – complete with chanting and drums – to be held before any parts are repurposed. In contrast to this sentimentality towards robots is the practical application of them: already Androids are being used as receptionists, retail sales clerks and news bulletin reporters. There is also talk of using robots in hospitals, museums and transit hubs – not to mention early learning classrooms in which children can use childlike robots to develop both motor skills and social skills.

The most groundbreaking aspect of The Human Robot documentary however is its exploration of Hiroshi Ishiguro’s Geminoid twins – replicas made in his own likeness which interact with humans on an emotional level. Through these interactions we learn that social bonds can be established between humans and their robot companions – even if those companions have stiff movements and rubber skin!

The Human Robot documentary offers an optimistic outlook for future artificial intelligence as it encourages us to explore the philosophical implications of intelligent machines. It presents a thought-provoking examination into what it means to be human as well as what it means to create intelligent machines; all the while giving us glimpses into a range of fascinating robot creations from around the world. If you’re interested in exploring this boundary further, then The Human Robot documentary is definitely worth watching!

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David B