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Is this the future? Japan unveils android newscaster

Japanese scientists unveiled the world’s first news-reading android on Tuesday (June 24), and boy, did it give us the chills.

There's nothing wrong with the humanoid robot itself - in fact, it's more than perfect with its eerily lifelike manner, sense of humour and perfect language skills.

But we can't help but see visions of doom and gloom with robots taking over the world. (Thanks for that, Hollywood.)

First the news industry, then the world.

Eerily lifelike

Humanoid robot​ Kodomoroid – an amalgamation of the Japanese word “kodomo” (child) and “android” – delivered news of an earthquake and an FBI raid. 

It even poked fun at its creator, telling leading robotics professor Hiroshi Ishiguro: “You’re starting to look like a robot!”

The pitch-perfect Kodomoroid was flanked by the robot Otonaroid, which caught stage fright and fluffed its lines. 

“Otonaroid”“otona” means adult – excused herself after a quick reboot, saying: “I’m a little bit nervous.”

Human reactions

Both androids will work at Tokyo’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, interacting with visitors to collect data for Mr Ishiguro’s studies into human reactions to the machines.  

He said: “This will give us important feedback as we explore the question of what is human. We want robots to become increasingly clever.”  

“You can take my androids on planes – the torso in the suitcase and the head in carry-on.”  

The 50-year-old has a humanoid version of himself which he sends overseas to give lectures. 

“It cuts down on my business trips,” he said. “Technical advances mean robots look and act more human, and that makes us think about our worth.” 

Visions of dystopian science fiction film I, Robot, anyone?​​

Household companion 

A chatty humanoid called Pepper, designed by SoftBank as a household companion, is set to go on sale for around US$2,000 in Japan next year.  

“That’s the same price as a laptop computer,” said Mr Ishiguro. “It’s incredible.”  

Kodomoroid performed tongue-twisters, to the amazement of its human counterparts.

“My dream is to have my own TV show in the future,” it said.

Creepy, Mr Ishiguro. Very creepy.

You can watch the Japan Times video here.

Source: AFP, Japan Times

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