Interview Hiroshi Ishiguro, Director of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory in Japan

“We have almost all necessary to achieve a society of robots technology”. Japanese professor, known for creating equal humanoids himself, he believes that machines can do the same people

Appeared in the newspaper El País on 27 September, the reproduced as a sign of the evolution of the sector

Hiroshi Ishiguro (Kyoto, 1963) is the same as your robot. Or your robot is like him. The same black hair framing frowning and serious rictus. Even made of silicone, Ishiguro Android also speaks and answers questions seeking the same expressions would use a human. That is the true objective of the real Ishiguro, director of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory prestigious Japan: creating humanoids that can do the same functions as a human. “What do we do with other people? Go to the movies, talking, help us? Well, that same can be done with a robot. The most important thing is to be someone holding a conversation,” he said in an interview during the Congress Congress Spanish Informatics at the headquarters of BISITE research group at the University of Salamanca.

Professor at the University of Osaka has been more than 15 years researching this type of machine and no longer limits: no language, no task, not even feelings. Ishiguro is convinced that they will be like us, only much smarter. “They can learn anything because they are computers, can access their own intranet and have a unique memory,” he says excited. They will also, customizable, everything depends on the programming that its owner wants to give. Avant-garde to the extreme in artificial intelligence, belittles the intelligence of Siri or any virtual assistant for his “simple operation”. Of course their robots may also make such functions. In his robotic utopia everything is possible.

Q. What tasks working imagine these robots?
A. In anyone, absolutely anyone. Examples could care for the elderly, working in education, serve in shops and restaurants, in public spaces, in subway stations, trains, buses …

Q. In a conference said he believed that humans can fall in love with robots.
A. Yes and I maintain. For example, there are people who feel strongly attracted to the animated characters, here in Japan happens to the characters of anime. Imagine then with creatures that can interact like a real human.

Q. But is it something unilateral or you are creating robots can feel?
Will R. senses, but also can express emotions. You might say, ‘I feel sorry, joy, jealousy …’. Like humans, there will be no fundamental difference.

Q. Do you think if they look more and more robots to humans end up being indistinguishable?
A. Of course, in a few years can not be distinguished. In fact, there are very young children and people who do not distinguish anymore.

Q. Do you think people can be a little scared to see so similar robots to humans?
A. No, no one can appear frightened. But you will have to choose well what kind of robot is more suited to every situation. There will be a suitable robot for each task and for each person. They are like a partner that can be controlled from a computer or mobile phone.

Q. But there is a sense of uncertainty about the possibility of losing some jobs.
captura-de-pantalla-2016-09-28-a-las-10-58-01A. The technology always makes losing jobs. You can see by comparing this company with other long ago. But humans developed new technology that allows us to live better. We live much better than 100 or 200 years ago. Technology is also a gateway to study increasingly to understand and comprehend more. So my bet is that we do want to develop better technology to live better we must be prepared to assume.

Q. How many years we need to see the robots integrated in our society?
R. My guess is two years. I think at that time anyone can use applications on a personal robot. Because we already have almost all necessary to achieve a society of robots technology: voice recognition systems, sense of speech, different types of artificial intelligence … We have to improve more, especially the issue of interactivity.

Q. And to see this kind of androids robots?
A. That’s going to be harder to see in bulk. If we make a comparison with the automotive industry, small and simple robots would be like normal cars and androids would like Lamborghinis. How many Lamborghinis have seen the way here? Androids are very complicated, they are robots luxury. But the important thing is to have many types of robots and that each deal with one thing.

Q. Why he decided to focus its research on this type of robot more complicated?
A. In the field of robotics, normal was to focus on navigation and manipulation. But I started thinking about how they had to be robots to integrate well into society. And that led me to the big question: what is the best look for a robot? And we had no answer, so I decided to start creating androids and innovate.

Q. What purpose behind all this research?
A. I have one goal: to achieve a deep understanding of what human beings. I want to know more about what we are and I think an android can be a good test to begin to understand. I’m trying to understand human creating a similar beings as possible to us.

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