Double take: Robot twin examines role of technology

Wed May 25, 2011 1:37pm EDT
 
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By Stuart McDill

AALBORG, Denmark (Reuters) - How much interaction with a robot are we prepared for and is that interaction different if the robot appears to be a person?

These are just some of the questions we need to be able to answer, according to Danish psychologist Henrik Scharfe.

His department at Denmark's Aalborg University is now the proud owner of Geminoid DK, a robot which so closely resembles him it borders on the surreal.

"It's a little bit like science fiction but without the fiction part," he said sitting next to a carbon copy of himself, sporting a similar suit and shirt and his own hair.

It is the third robot of the Geminoid series, a line of androids designed by Hiroshi Ishiguro, a professor at Osaka University and his team at Japan's Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR) in Nara.

"By doing something as dramatic or as extreme as this it really makes people think about the role of technology in their everyday life," Scharfe said.

Scharfe says we need a better understanding of human robot interactions and ultra-realistic robots may help us learn.

"Imagine you enter a restaurant and the waiter is a robot and he picks up your order," ask Scharfe. "There are times when you don't want to engage with a waiter and this would do the job just fine."   Continued...