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Robots and men, a peaceful coexistence?

The Japan study perfect alchemy

How many times have we seen robots in science fiction movies? How many times have we wondered if they could really exist and replace us? Well, since the first science fiction film in modern history, Fritz Lang's Metropolis in 1927, where a first female robot appears, only 93 years have passed, but it seems like an eternity. The era in which we live is totally different from the previous ones. In fact, without using any time machine, the technology has improved significantly in a very short time. In particular, man today is able to design an intelligent robot. The rapid and current development of robotics has also been made possible by the important role it has played in the science fiction literary genre. The term robotics comes from the term robot, which was first coined by the Czech brothers Čapek. Josef Capek talks about it in his story, Opilec (the drunkard), where he refers to the term automat (automat), while his brother Karel uses it in his play, The Universal Robots of Rossum, where the term robota means forced labor. These texts, however, anticipate the father of modern robotics, the Soviet Isaac Asimov. Asimov, besides being the father of science fiction novels, has made a significant contribution to the development of modern robotics, enunciating three famous laws on which the research of current scientists is based. They provide that a robot cannot do harm to a human being nor can it allow a human being to receive harm because of his failure to act. A robot must obey the orders given by a human being as long as these orders do not contravene the first law. A robot must protect its existence as long as it does not contravene the first and second laws. The robots described by Asimov in his book are positronic, humanoid robots that obey the orders of their master. Asimov's dream was in fact to create the best possible public official, so as to avoid tyranny. According to Asimov's descriptions, these robots were therefore perfect because they could not grasp the emotions and the different shades of language, limiting themselves to carrying out the tasks assigned to them. The theories and predictions that Asimov set out in the fifties, seemed utopian at the time, have now become reality. In Japan, in fact, some university researchers are developing several humanoid robots, under the supervision of two important professors such as Hiroishi Iguro and Kohei Ogawa. Kohei Ogawa has held several conferences around the world and in the meeting held in Milan in November, he told the state of the art in the Japanese country. The scholar pointed out that there are three different humanoid systems based on the different degree of autonomy. Geminoid is the first copy model of the human being, but totally dependent on it. In fact, it is a guided humanoid capable of holding a conversation and even acting. Next to the copy of the human being Geminoid, there are two other types of amorphous robots of the same type. The first is called Telenoid and is a 50 cm android that allows two people far away from each other to speak as if they were next to each other. He can move his limbs, reproducing the movements and the voice of those who command him remotely. This model is mainly used to help autistic children and the elderly with dementia in their dialogue. The second one, called Hugvie, is a robot cushion that vibrates reproducing the heartbeats of the person you are talking to on the phone. Unlike the other two, Hugvie is already on sale for 186 dollars. Partially autonomous is Minami, intelligent mannequin, created in a showcase safe from conversations with men. She can respond to people with an emotional reaction similar to the human one, using the data captured by the sensors. Instead, Erika, an anchorwoman robot, is totally autonomous, ideal for running news programmes. Erika depicts a beautiful twenty-year-old who does not move her legs and arms, however, relying on her voice for her oratory skills. To be active she needs quiet spaces and isolated places. Robots of this type were created in Tibet to help the monks pray or recite the psalms, or they appeared in Japan as conductors. All these prototype sources of study are the basis for more complicated scientific research on an artificial brain that allows robots to express emotions like us. According to Kohei Ogawa we should not be afraid of robots and we should learn to live with them civilly, respecting their qualities.The perspective expressed by Kohei does not seem very simple. In fact, if robotics were to advance at this rate, arriving at constituting an artificial brain, the Robots could soon be totally autonomous, thus questioning the two absolute axioms constituted by the first two laws of Asimov. Such, in fact, seems to be the scenario foreseen by a Russian series "Better than Us" that questions precisely the relationship that man must maintain with robots, in view of their possibility of killing/ignoring the latter.


By Domenico Barbato


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Sections Entrepreneurship Technology and Innovation 2030 Agenda Industry, innovation and infrastructure


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Robots Humanoids Ogawa Iguro Meglio di No Asimov Fisica

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Robots and men, a peaceful coexistence?

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