Imagine a future where you sit in the comfort of your home while a robot that looks exactly like you – an android – goes to work, does your grocery shopping, and fetches your children from school. You might have several androids all over the world, attending to your business.
Prof Hiroshi Ishiguro – named one of the top 100 geniuses alive in the world today – has been devoting himself to creating robots so humanlike that it’s hard to tell which is which. His android twin has even attended a conference on his behalf.
Ishiguro, who is from Osaka University, in Japan, will give a free public lecture on Thursday, 22 November 2012, at FNB Auditorium 101, West Campus, Wits University, from 3pm to 5pm. In his lecture, Ishiguro will address the relationship between humans and robots, the role robots will play in our lives in the future, and how his research is leading him to explore what it means to be human.
He will also bring some robots for demonstration purposes. The robots belong to another Japanese robotics expert, Nobuo Yamato, director of Team Osaka, who won the World RoboCup championships five times. RoboCup is a soccer game for robots programmed to play autonomously, without humans controlling them. The winner is determined by who has programmed his or her robots to play the best soccer. The eventual goal of RoboCup is for robots to beat the human world champions by 2050.
The talk will be non-technical and accessible to all levels, so it’s encouraged for children to attend. Ishiguro and his humanoid can even be recognised from their role in the science fiction film, 'Surrogates' starring Bruce Willis.
The SAIEE-IEEE Wits Student Group is working in collaboration with the Embassy of Japan to present the two experts.