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‘Blade Runner’ future of human-like androids is one step closer when the first robot learns to ‘feel pain’

‘Blade Runner’ future of human-like androids is one step closer when the first robot learns to ‘feel pain’

  • A small group of Japanese scientists created a childish “human” head in 2011
  • The robot, called Affetto, showed a range of emotions and can now ‘feel pain’
  • Chief scientist, Prof Minoru Asada, claims that a Blade Runner-like society is close by

Japanese scientists who have created a childish android that is now able to “feel pain” have said that a society in which people live next to robots is not far away.

The group of scientists from Osaka University, led by professor Minoru Asada, says they strive for a symbiotic society, such as in the 1982 Blade Runner film.

Lifelike robots are nothing new, but recent developments from the Osaka team have shown that a robot is trying to “feel” human suffering.

Prof. Asada created ‘Affetto’, Italian for affection, a human-like head with an artificially built-in pain sensor system that can detect the difference between a soft touch and a hard blow – with a corresponding facial expression in response.

Afetto, initially unveiled in 2011 with the current model that will follow in 2018, now responds to electrical charges that are applied to its synthetic skin and visibly shudder with ‘pain’.

‘We integrate a touch and pain nerve system in the robot to make the robot feel pain so that it can understand the touch and pain of others. And if this is possible, we want to see if empathy and morality can arise, “said Professor Asada.

“We want to build a symbiotic society with artificially intelligent robots, and a robot that can feel pain is an important part of that society.”

The professor said the robots could provide emotional and physical help to Japan’s aging society.

A creepy robot with a child's face can make realistic facial expressions. Images show Affetto, pictured here. The Android can mimic human expressions such as smiles and frowns

A creepy robot with a child’s face can make realistic facial expressions. Images show Affetto, pictured here. The Android can mimic human expressions such as smiles and frowns

And asked if we could end up with a Blade Runner-typed world, Asada, who is also president of the Robotics Society of Japan, said: “I think we are technically not far from that, but that is of course ethically different. “

He also said that in Japan “we believe that all lifeless objects have a soul,” so “a metal robot is no different from a human in that regard.”

To develop Affetto, the researchers identified 116 different points of view and analyzed the mechanisms needed to create distinctive facial expressions.

The robot was made by researchers from Osaka University in Japan who say that the creation can now 'feel pain'. The chief scientist claims that a Blade Runner-like society is not far away

The robot was made by researchers from Osaka University in Japan who say that the creation can now 'feel pain'. The chief scientist claims that a Blade Runner-like society is not far away

The robot was made by researchers from Osaka University in Japan who say that the creation can now ‘feel pain’. The chief scientist claims that a Blade Runner-like society is not far away

Initially, the researchers encountered problems balancing the applied force and adjusting the synthetic skin to ensure that the face was realistic.

However, the team was able to adjust the system and ultimately the face of Affetto.

Dr. Hisashi Ishihara, one of the designers, said that “a more sensitive and expressive body” on a robot is the key to the symbiotic society that the group predicts.

The first-generation model of the Android was released in a study in 2011. Since then, the group of researchers has been working on making the second generation more expressive

The first-generation model of the Android was released in a study in 2011. Since then, the group of researchers has been working on making the second generation more expressive

The first-generation model of the Android was released in a study in 2011. Since then, the group of researchers has been working on making the second generation more expressive

He added that he is certain that someday people will make a robot that is almost indistinguishable from their makers.

The new artificial pain system was presented at this month’s American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Seattle.

In August, scientists from the University of Bristol said that lifelike robots that can make decisions, adapt to their environment and learn, are a step closer to reality.

It described the concept of soft matter computers (SMCs), inspired by biology.

It aims to simulate the functioning of the vascular system, whereby hormones such as adrenaline are released into the bloodstream and spread throughout the body.

WILL YOUR JOB BE TAKEN BY A ROBOT?

Physical tasks in predictable environments, including machine operators and fast food staff, are most likely to be replaced by robots.

Management consulting firm McKinsey, based in New York, focused on the number of jobs that would be lost due to automation, and which occupations were most at risk.

The report said that data collection and processing are two other categories of activities that can increasingly be done better and faster with machines.

This can displace large amounts of labor – for example, in mortgages, paralegal work, accounting, and back-office transaction processing.

Conversely, jobs in unpredictable environments are the least risky.

The report added: “Professions such as gardeners, plumbers or providers of child and elderly care – will generally also see less automation by 2030, because they are technically difficult to automate and often pay relatively lower wages, making automation a less attractive company is a proposition. “

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