With life-like robots now being offered citizenships, we are about to witness the rise of the machines as they are getting better not only at walking and talking, but also in decision-making to some extent.
One of these humanoids called Erica, equipped with a highly-advanced artificial speech system, is now getting prepared to replace a human newscaster in a Japanese television show in April.
According to Hiroshi Ishiguro, director of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University and Erica's creator, the robot is so realistic that she appears to "have a soul."
Ishiguro also reportedly said that he wanted Erica to have an "independent consciousness," making her considerably superior to other existing humanoids like Hanson Robotics' Sophia, which was recently criticised by Yann LeCunn, Facebook's chief AI scientist, as a mere puppet of its creator.
This is to AI as prestidigitation is to real magic.— Yann LeCun (@ylecun) January 4, 2018
Perhaps we should call this "Cargo Cult AI" or "Potemkin AI" or "Wizard-of-Oz AI".
In other words, it's complete bullsh*t (pardon my French).
Tech Insider: you are complicit in this scam. https://t.co/zhUE4V2PSR
"We're going to replace one of the newscasters with the android," Ishiguro said, adding that Erica would be enabled with artificial intelligence to read news put together by humans.
Erica's voice will also be used by a Japanese automaker for interactions with passengers in autonomous vehicles, the Wall Street Journal reported.
"What we really want to do is have a robot which can think and act and do everything completely on its own," Dylan Glas, Erica's architect, said in a statement.
Although the eerily realistic robot, meant to be a 23-year-old human, cannot move her arms, she has a set of remarkable abilities, including tracking sources of sounds she hears and knowing who she is talking to.
Erica is fitted with 14 infra-red sensors and face recognition technology that help her track people in a room.
"In Japan, we never distinguish between people and others. We basically think everything has a soul. So, therefore, we believe Erica has a soul," Ishiguro, who refers to himself as Erica's father," said in a Guardian documentary last year.
This is not the first time that Ishiguro has created a robot news anchor. He had reportedly unveiled two humanoid newsreaders at a Tokyo museum in 2014.