Iroshi Ishiguro, a world leader in robotics

humanoid design and presented one of his machines in the ‘Metamorphosis show’ held at the Espace Legendre, Compiege, November 27. The show is an adaptation of the Kafka novel by play writer Oriza Hirata. Could humans and robots be interchangeable one day, as seen in this experiment by Gregor Samsa who is transformed on stage, not into a “monstrous insect” but into a no less disturbing robot?

Iroshi Ishiguro, a world leader in robotics

Just before this show, you gave a lecture at UTC on the theme “Twins, Technology and Human Nature”. Can you tell us what you presented?

Well, I explained why I build humanoid robots and why I decided to work on Kafka’s Metamorphosis theme. Robots will be omni-present in our daily future. They will be as commonplace as smartphones today; we should be prepared for this.

Why do you give your robots a humanoid form?

The human brain is designed to recognise human attributes. If you give a humanoid form to a robot, this facilitates its integration and interactions with living humans. They will be accepted naturally in a human like form. The French company Aldebaran also chose to go this way, with Nao, Pepper and Romeo.

What do you see as the next step in robotics?

Robots will need more on-board intelligence. They are already more intelligent than humans in certain functionalities, such as calculating or memorizing. But we need also to take this further, and attribute intentions or allow for their own desires. The next stage will be to implant consciousness. That is the area where I am doing research today and I hope to come up with some definitive results in the next 5 years. In the framework of my research, the work we did at the Compiegne Theatre. By placing a robot face-to-face with art, we can learn how the robot should (re)act in the most natural way possible.

Are we living in a Sci-Fi novel?

Sci-Fi is a source of inspiration for scientific research. It is a driving force and it provides for all the imagination science and technologies need to progress.

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