Science & Technology

Japan’s robots to reflect on essence and evolution of human beings

By Maria Roldan

Tokyo, March 22 (EFE).- From androids to virtual entities or mechanical exoskeletons, the largest robot exhibition held in Japan to date invites attendees to reflect on human evolution, its essence and the increasingly blurred border between man and machine.

The exhibition “You and the robots – What is a human being?” at the National Museum of Emerging Sciences and Innovation in Tokyo, “not only seeks to show many robots, but also to make people reflect on the body, mind and life of being human through robots,” Yukie Sonoyama, from the center’s scientific communication department, told EFE.

The exhibition addresses the origin and evolution of robots to the present day, the meaning of what it means to be human and the sometimes blurred border between man and machine, as well as the perspectives on the evolution of the future shared between both.

A total of 130 robots of 90 types are on display at the Miraikan until Aug. 31. Coming from more than 50 institutions and universities across the country, they range from iconic androids such as ASIMO or Pepper to zoomorphic devices such as the dog Aibo or the stuffed seal Paro, with more than 20 years of history.

About a third of the robots on display are interactive. They can be touched and talked to, as in the case of the affective robot Lovot or the conversational robot RoBoHon, and there is also a part dedicated to the application of robotics in the medical, prosthetics or industrial sectors.

Among the many curiosities on display is a model of Posy, the robot that made its film debut in Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation” in 2003. Although the scene of him with protagonist Scarlett Johansson was removed from the final montage, the images can be rescued today thanks to the internet.

Apart from androids or humanoid robots, perhaps the most striking due to their morphological resemblance, many robots were created to expand the potential of human activities.

Industrial arms have made it possible to speed up and increase production in factories, devices that increase strength to load pallets or people are more widespread, and mechanical prostheses and exoskeletons to replace limbs or bodies without mobility are increasingly common.

The exhibition also dedicates a space to these innovations and allows the visitor to interact with some, such as the android OriHime, the avatar robot that has allowed people with paralysis and other problems to work as waiters.

Among the most striking models on display is JINKI type Zero ver.1.2, an imposing 4-meter-high robot managed through a virtual reality device and whose development is aimed at use in tunnel excavation, among other functions.

“The boundary between the body and life itself is becoming blurred, the robot and the human being are coming together and this can change the very value of life,” said Sonoyama, adding that among its objectives the exhibition encourages reflection about it and invites people to “imagine a future of coexistence with robots.”

The term robot, she said, is becoming more and more ambiguous, “because there are more and more that are not corporeal, like artificial intelligences” or virtual entities or holograms, also present. EFE


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