I have approximately three facial expressions: staring at computer (eyes glazed), staring at TV (eyes more glazed), and staring at phone (eyes focused, brow furrowed). Watching this truly freakishly expressive robot, however, I frowned a bit.
Recently, there was one robot that was better than me at singing and dancing and one that was better than me at bowling. I expect robots to be better than me at those sorts of things, so it didn't hit me too hard. This, however, is upsetting.
The Actroid-F, the latest version of Japanese roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro's Geminoid robot, observes humans and then mimics their facial expressions. As you can see in this video, it does so quite accurately. Watching this robot purse her lips and raise her eyebrow, memories of real, human conversations came flooding back. Flirtations, frustrations, misunderstandings—all of the things that were unspoken but could be read in the slight twitch of some muscle in the face—all of them now, too, part of the dominion of robots.
And so it goes. Soon, no doubt, robots will feel joy even more ecstatically and love even more deeply than we humans do, and we will be content to go on staring at our computers and TVs and phones.
The Actroid-F is getting her start in Japanese hospitals where she'll watch patients and gauge their reactions. Someday, hopefully, they'll be able to teach patients to smile again. [PopSci]