Diana Ciorba: What triggered your interest for robotics? How did it start?
Hiroshi Ishiguro: When I was in elementary school, I spent most of the time drawing pictures and writing a diary.
I used to draw or paint anything that came to my mind, even during class, without listening to my teacher. At that time, I could cultivate a capacity for expressiveness.
When in fifth grade, I encountered an unforgettable incident.
I got scolded by my parent or teacher, who told me "Think about the feelings of others." The word was shocking to me. I didn't understand other people's feelings. Even if I asked people around me, nobody answered the questions properly. I noticed that they don't understand the problem at all, and rather convinced themselves against their will. I was disappointed.
When I was a child, my dream was to become a painter. However, I gave it up since making a living as a painter is hard and my cognitive capacity to color had limitations in those times. Then, I decided to study computers seriously, when I was in my third year of university. I believed that the acquisition of computer skills would help me make a living. The more I studied computer science, the more I found it interesting to study AI. I find it similar to drawing a picture.
Since then, I've been developing an android to understand what a human is and to clarify the questions I've been having since that unforgettable incident in the fifth grade.
My main interest is not developing robots, but understanding the human mind and why emotional phenomena appear in human society, because I'm quite interested in humans, not in robots.
D.C. : How do you refer to your human-like robots when speaking about them (in your native language and in English ) ? - he / she or it ? In your opinion, what is the most suitable word and why?
H.I.: "he" since it is like my twin brother.
D.C. : How did the Geminoid project affect your self-perception?
H.I.: After creating my android, I realized that I didn't know myself.
When I watched a video showing my android moving, everyone around me said that not only the appearance, but also the movement were exactly the same as my own, against my opinion. In general, people don't know themselves, and I felt that my real existence is inside myself, not on the people's side.
D.C. What could be the risks and threats for human behavior and psychology during the teleoperation?
H.I. The operator can accept the android body as their own body. Therefore, if someone hits the robot, the operator can have a strong feeling of being hit.
If someone does bad things to the robot, the operator may have serious negative feelings.
D.C. From your point of view, when will we see androids performing complex activities such as rock-climbing (one robot is the belayer, and the other is the lead climber)?
H.I.: I am not an expert in this field of robotics. However, it is not so difficult to achieve this, comparing it with conversational robots. I think the technology is available.
D.C.: What is your greatest challenge in your current work?
H.I.: We are working on research aiming to implement an intention and desire into robots.
If robots have their intention and desire, it makes us to understand these in other people too.
D.C.: Which element from the human-to-human interaction would you most love to transpose in the human to robot interaction?
H.I.: I would be interested in the treatment of autistic children and dementia-stricken elderly, since they are not good at talking to people.
D.C. What is your vision on the development of robotics for the future? H.I. Athletes with artificial arms or legs play well in the Paralympic Games. We don't refer to these people as being 70% human etc. They are considered human being.
According to the definition of human beings, flesh is not included in the requirement.
As the technological development progresses, people will aim to replace their body with machines to live longer.
The organic substance has a short life-span. However, by accepting inorganic substance, we will be able to achieve good enough prosperity to get to the life-span we need to travel in space.
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