Every time I see a new + improved android, I am speechless as to how much closer man + machine will become indistinguishable from one another. So imagine my reaction when I saw Shan-san (or Geminoid F, the ‘F’ being for ‘Female’) above, a high-tech Japanese humanoid that appears to breathe, blink, + talk about what it means to be in love, in this excerpt from ‘Autonomous’, a documentary that explores ‘emotional intelligence’ as much as ‘artificial intelligence’.
Created by Japanese Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, the director of Intelligent Robotics Laboratory, whose work involves teaching robots how to love, in the film you hear him say that ‘having a soul is a subjective phenomenon’ simply because it can not be seen, so how could one negate the validity of this creepy humanoid having the ability to love when her ‘soul’ is also invisible? As author Phillip K. Dick once asked + explained, ‘Do androids dream of electric sheep?,’ in a book of the same name.
‘Humanoids are fascinating + a symbol for where humans + robots meet,’ explain Per Eriksson + Alexander Rynéus, the Swedish-born directors of ‘Autonomous’. Even Professor Ishiguro said how he thinks ‘with robotic + android technology we’ll bridge the physical world + the virtual world,’ but I wonder if the human aspect of these androids will cause a riff in this bridge as I can’t help but wonder how easily these humanoids can be fetishized + become stand-ins for real human beings?