The Human Robot

The Human Robot

2015, Technology  -   12 Comments
Ratings: 7.78/10 from 140 users.

The Human Robot explores the boundary between biological and mechanical intelligence through interviews with sociologists, roboticists, ethicists, and philosophers. Asking "how human is too human?" in regards to robot design, the film focuses primarily on Japanese culture and their positive attitude towards technology in contrast to Western culture's tendency towards fearing intelligent machines.

The filmmakers showcase a wide variety of intelligent robot designs, from the flashy and entertaining automatons of Tokyo's Robot Restaurant and the dog-like Aibo robotic pet, to the hyper-real Geminoid designs that mimic their human counterparts with great accuracy. Androids are shown to already be quite prevalent in Japanese society where they hold positions as receptionists, retail sales clerks, and even news bulletin reporters.

Robot sociologist Naho Kitano explains that the Japanese view technology as a tool for improving life, whereas Westerners tend to view robotics through a lens that is often colored by religion. While the Japanese are less inclined to view robot science as interfering with nature or God, they still assign a level of sentiment to their creations. We learn that Aibo pet robots are given "souls" and when their bodies fail to work properly it is common for a soul removal ceremony, complete with chanting and drums, to take place before any usable parts are repurposed.

Several other experts in artificial intelligence weigh in on the potential for robots to aid in homes, hospitals, museums and transit hubs, as well as early learning classrooms where children can utilize childlike robots to develop both motor and social skills. Hiroshi Ishiguro, the man who created Geminoid "twins" in the likeness of himself and fellow researchers, shows off a model that encourages observers to touch her, reassures them not to fear her, and even asks what it feels like for them to touch her. Although her movements are stiff and her skin noticeably rubber, her inquisitive nature and seeming self-awareness (she self-identifies as a "female android") make it easy to see how social bonds can be established between humans and their robot companions.

Both visually and intellectually stimulating, The Human Robot offers a promising outlook for future artificial intelligence by examining the ethical and philosophical implications of intelligent machines.

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7 years ago

Yeah I'm disturbed. When you can do anything you want to a female robot without complaint, I think you might begin to believe that you can do anything to a human female and expect no complaints. Women are already the brunt of enough abuse without the encouragement for more departmentalization as lesser than equal fellow human beings.

Dovid Witkowski
7 years ago

I find this documentary very disturbing in so far as it shows at one and the same time man's technical genius at developing "life like" machines which over time will undoubtedly apparently look and behave like humans and yet are anything but! I'm from minuscule tribe that believes in G-d and as such have spent at least two decades researching and living in a world cocooned by spiritual, philosophical and critically analytical concepts. "Human like" machines can in no way approximate to humans in any meaningful way as the human soul is everything. My proof would be to play to the electronic earpieces some of my favourite music and gauge the reaction. I'm thinking of Blue in Green (Kind of Blue) Miles Davis, Cinema Paradiso (Beyond a Missouri Sky) (Pat Metheny/Charlie Hayden) and Soul Sacrifice Woodstock video (Carlos Santana). Would the robot spontaneously jump and and down and start dancing in an expressive way at the sound of rock music and feel like drifting into a state of expanded consciousness from hearing the more serene pieces listed? As for dessert, how about an interview of Erich Fromm by Mike Wallace in 1958. Fromm said at some point in the history of American industrialisation, America became "production crazy and consumption crazy!" Could the robot ever have arrived at that conclusion? In short we are a species that has so lost its' way, believing that pushing the boundaries of scientific knowledge wherever the money for research and money for profit is readily attainable in vast quantities is the way to go; yet the gnawing problems of poverty, hunger, slavery and wars which have plague humanity for so long and which we do have the answers for, go largely ignored. Long, long before we develop humanoids we have to fix our souls first because the way humanity's going all the indications are that we will soon be building super robots in order to engage in man's favourite pastime: war!

7 years ago

interesting to read all of the above comments on Japanese believes, humans always like slaves, world wars as if their countries were innocent of any wrong doing in history!!!! these comments are talking more about themselves than the reality of the future.PEOPLE wake up!!! We hear more about the drive-less car ... what is the difference with the robots seen in this film? this type of car is a robot.... till somebody puts an inflatable dull in it and so will look like a human taxi driver!!! I wonder if there is an update on this artist development and if his development turned up more daily functional!

7 years ago

Since my bank saving in the UK are not giving me any growth... I would not mind to invest in one of this robots to clean, tidy-up and may be cook at home... while I am enjoing doing the work and activities that I love. If this is possible for £5K ... I sell my car! for a "hotel like spotless house" when I came back from my activities of daily living!

7 years ago

Humankind has always desired slaves. Maybe this is the moral equivalent.

8 years ago

@ an International HiTek Conference, in Melbourne Australia, some 15 years ago now, a post-talk question from an audience member, about the "Future of Teledildonics", merely gots shut down, despite the mirth and acceptance from the audience.

I suspect that "Dildo-ludditism" is STILL no less strong - in a largely puritanical Western Culture - despite its abundant soft-porn in the MSM :-)

8 years ago

It's odd that the Japanese people treat the robots like they have a soul but the creator of the robots do not think of them as such by the way he talks about or treats his creations: a weird chauvinistic attitude, not exactly what you would find in creation stories in the scripture and what not.

Jan de Boer
8 years ago

Two remarks.
1. The Japanese people seems to have the habit to treat things/machines as people and at the same time they have a horrible history of treating human beings as things. An example: during the last worldwar they used very young girls, virgins, as "consolation" for their soldiers. Those girls were days long gangbanged by a barack of soldiers. Those who got a veneral disease from those soldiers were severely beaten for infecting soldiers. Those who became pregnant, were, when their bellies had grown to much, bound to poles and used as target for bajonet exercises by the Japanese soldiers. I do not remember that the Japanese ever appologized for this beheavior. But I do remember that a very important member of the Japanese government stated that "...surely those girls must have enjoyed the attention of the healthy Japanese soldiers.".
2. Humans have exceptional brains, but on bassis of my experiences I can testity that the brain is not the bearer of the personality. The bearer of the personality is our soul, an immaterial being, in my opinion a four dimensional, immortal being. For those who can program computers, you can program a perfect human reaction on burning in a robot. But tell me, how would you define and program sorrow?

Nikhil Danak
8 years ago

"Artificial Intelligence" is an art created & crafted by human and that reflects in this documentary. Daniel Dennett is mentioning about consciousness potentiality could be a surprise phenomenon in this art of Artificial Intelligence down road and not a gimmick. Which is far anticipation at this point of research & development. However the way human imagination is discovering substitute of nature's creation through biological existence of human being may either surprise us in future or endanger existence of our own for sure!

Kansas Devil
8 years ago

I can see where low wage jobs may be roboticized leaving more people disadvantaged and the "puppeteers" having greater wealth with less effort. Unless some system of socialization of finance is developed and accepted, robots will not be making life better.
Even higher skilled and higher paid jobs may eventually be replaced by multi-functional robot colonies.
Perhaps one day the need for managers and executives would not be needed as there will not be human workers. Just an adaptive artificial intelligence interpreting the commands of one human ideologue.

8 years ago

The marketing photo on the cover of this doc, it such a good example of an image that sells although the doc never talks about sexual robot partner. I can imagine it won't be long before such robots are on the shelf in Las Vegas, haven't seen a robot with a tongue yet.