Two big developments took place in the world of robots last week. The improvements are big, but one of the robots is big and the other is small.
The big one is the world's most realistic humanoid robot. This robot, standing with its eyes closed like a lifeless mannequin in a laboratory, first moves its shoulder. Then suddenly wakes up when someone snaps a finger from behind the camera. After looking around for a short time with confused eyes, it begins to examine its own body. The expressions on its face are much more realistic than any other humanoid robot we've seen so far. At the end of this bewilderment choreography, it finally notices us who woke it up… and is it startled or boggled? I think it is trying to figure out what's going on and finally, it reaches out and smiles at us.
How did you feel when you watched these images? Were you as surprised as it was? Were you scared? were you startled? Or terrified? However, if I showed you these robots that assemble cars, would you still feel the same emotions?
Basically, there is almost no difference between these two robots. One is an industrial robot, the other is a humanoid robot. They both have engines connected by a lot of wires, and they change things in the outside world with the parts these engines move. One of them changes the cars, the other changes our faces and emotions.
Naturally, when we see human-like things, we are much more affected by it. That's why we see an increase in the number of humanoid robots in this category, especially in recent years.
The people who made this robot called Ameca, which I just showed you, say that they produced it for the very same reason: They say, "The reason we make a robot that looks like a human is to interact with people." “The human face is a very high-bandwidth communication tool.”
No matter how much we tried to be humanoid (human-like) in other experiments made so far, we were stuck in the middle when we looked at them, since they could not look exactly like them somehow. I have said that this is called the “uncanny valley” effect and I have explained this concept in detail in my previous videos.
Let me try to explain once again what I mean with new examples. In fact, let's use the previous experiments of "Engineered Arts" engineers who made Ameca, because we can see this effect very easily in those examples. Take a look at Cleo, which they introduced in January, for example. They dressed it like a maestro. It makes graceful movements to classical music. At first glance, you think it's human, but after a few seconds, you realize that it's not human and get startled. Because this image evokes that “uncanny valley” effect in you. Seeing such humanoid objects imperfectly resembling real people causes us to feel uncanny or strangely frightened and then disgusted. However, if we remove the same object from its clothes and skin, this effect will decrease. It will not completely disappear, but it will still decrease nonetheless.
That's why when they build the next model of this robot, we see a skeleton directly in Ameca to reduce the risk of the uncanny valley hypothesis evoking the cold and eerie feelings in viewers of an almost human-like being. So this time something different was tried. It is not hidden that it is a robot.
They also tried to reduce the different kinds of anxieties of the modern world. For example, its skin color is gray. Not Native American. Nor it is of the white race “born with privileges” or the yellow, brown or black races. Those who made it tried to make its gender obscure as well as its race. They wanted it to look neither male nor female. They focused only on basic human characteristics, facial expressions. That's why they painted its face gray.
Still, you may be thinking that they couldn't reduce its scary looks. Although they are touted as the most realistic-looking humanoid robot in the world, we can say that, in terms of technological development, such robots are complex puppets or even a mannequin with some motors and mechanisms in them. No need to exaggerate. They have been producing such robots for show and entertainment purposes. The new models don't have other bodily features like walking or running yet.
You know, there is another popular robot manufacturer that has made up for these shortcomings: Boston Dynamics. When it comes to humanoid body movements, there is nothing more developed than these. They learned to perform all kinds of athletic movements with near-perfect balance and dexterity. Imagine combining the body of this robot called Atlas, which makes all these movements, with the face of Ameca. Imagine it moves like this and changes its face from shape to shape. If we married these two robots… What would their children look like?