Richard J B Willis
BUS Health Ministries Director
Not a catchy name, but a name none the less, given to a "female" android the invention of Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University. "She" looks human enough – until you see her hands – but she can only sit and move her head at present.
Powered by 31 upper-body activators connected to an external air compressor, she fools most people into thinking that she is human, fluttering her eyelashes, moving her hands, and by appearing to breathe. Repliee Q1’s skin is a soft, flexible silicone resembling human skin. It is superficial resemblance at best, since this big form-fitting sack that we walk around in is possessed of detail beyond Ishiguro’s wildest dreams.
Typically, real skin has in an area about twice the size of a thumbnail:
13 cold sensors;
20 blood vessels;
78 heat sensors;
165 pressure sensors;
650 sweat glands;
1,300 nerve endings
Fearfully and wonderfully made, indeed!
Scientists have long dreamt of making a self-balancing, twenty-eight jointed, adapter-based bi-ped, containing an electochemical reduction plant, with thousands of hydraulic and pneumatic pumps, with motors attached. Such a being would have some sixty-two thousand miles of capillaries, millions of warning, railroad, and conveyor systems, crushers and cranes, and having a universally-distributed telephone system.
Someone needs to tell Ishiguro and the others that the design race has already been won. "In the beginning God created … and made man[kind] in His own image." It is said of Repliee Q1 that she can respond to the human touch, and that people soon forget that she is an android. Ishiguro wants to design an android that will pass as a human being, if only for a short period of time.
Whilst not belittling the engineering achievement of Dr. Ishiguro, and the fact that the design has a very long way to go before approaching anything like the humanity we know and love, the time might be better spent in improving humanity itself. We do not want robots to copy us as we are – we could not inflict that on them!
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