Imagine a robot that not only can pop the top off a bottle of ice-cold beer and then pour it in a glass without making a head of foam. A robot that can render assistance in an emergency or natural disaster. A robot that can perform simple surgery. A robot that can even enjoy sexual relations.
The stuff of Hollywood fantasy? A page ripped out of a comic book or sci-fi novel? Not by a long shot.
That’s the word coming from researchers an scientists attending the International Conference for Robotics and Automation which is taking place in Rome this week and runs from Tuesday through Friday.
President elect of the conference Professor Bruno Siciliano says it’s only a matter of time – – actually about 20 years, maybe less — before a robot in every home is as common as a car in every garage. In fact, Siciliano was quoted in the Sunday edition of the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero (ilmessaggero.it) that in some countries like South Korea and Japan, the robotic time-line has been narrowed to about 2024. In case you weren’t counting, that’s only three years away. Forgot about the cute little “robotic dog” that SONY debutted back in 2001. What’s debuting in labs now would even give Boris Karloff a run for his money, check here.
Consider the following robotic breakthroughs:
– Already in the research and development phase is a domestic robot being readied in Japan that can handle light housework.
– Another “droid” at the conference that can perform — to the millimeter in detail – some simple surgical operations.
– A “robot dancer” that can mimic the complex human movements of ballet dancer (minus the leaping in the air) and has done so already in a study conducted at the University of Tokyo.
– or how about South Korea’s “Repliee Q1” an amazingly lifelike female droid that can move her eyes, hands, and arms and is programmed to replicate human breathing as well. (Repliee Q1 has already been replaced by Repliee Q2 which can do even more complex facial movements including some phrases).
Meanwhile Kim-Jong Hwan — the director of the Intelligent Robot Research Center (tamagawa.jp/en) in Seoul, Republic of South Korea – has created the most fantastic robot of all: a female robot “companion” capable of having sexual relations. Before you brush off the thought and compare this droid to a blow-up doll with a wind-up mouth, think again. Hwan’s robo-friend can not only have sex but can “feel” like having it as well. Thanks to a secret “artificial chromosome” that can imitate human DNA sequences.
Just what the world of science needs: a female robot that can have a headache.
Stefano Nolfi — head researcher at Rome’s Institute of Science and Technology takes the concept of artificial intelligence one step farther when he says (again in Il Messaggaro) that “…robots are already at the point in some level where they can collaborate among themselves…where they actually have a type of social rapport between them…”
We chuckled at the exploits of R2D2 in Star Wars…thrilled when Will Smith struggled side-by-side his droid buddy in “I,Robot” and shivered at the pseudo-technology in “Blade Runner” but before we know it all those scenarios and more are suddenly on the brink of becoming reality.