This entry was posted on Oct 12 2009 by

The Future Is Now (or it will be soon) Exhibit C

 

Photo via engadget.com
Photo via engadget.com

 

 

After the collected edition of The Surrogates was in print, a reviewer who enjoyed the book sent me a link to a Wired article about Hiroshi Ishiguro, a Japanese college professor who had created an android substitute for himself that allowed him to “robot in” to work and avoid the morning drive from his home an hour away.  Ishiguro designed the android to look like him, complete with eye movements and a subtle rise and fall of its shoulders to simulate breathing.  By connecting to the android remotely, he controls its movements and even communicates through a speaker housed inside the machine.

Ishiguro’s motives for creating his body double confirmed a thesis that I’d held from the beginning of my scripting for The Surrogates: In a future where you could have an android substitute for yourself, people would use the technology for more than simply cosmetic reasons.  While there certainly would be those who would use surrogates to change their physical appearance (even their race and gender), for others it would be strictly a matter of convenience.   Ishiguro’s not trying to score a date or land a better job; he just doesn’t want to sit in traffic.

 

Ishiguro states in the article that his ultimate goal is for the robot to have “presence,” to make those who interact with it feel as though they are dealing with the human him and not a machine.  In the 3½ years since the article was written, I wonder how close he’s come.

 

(Fun Fact: Professor Ishiguro and his robo-double make an appearance in the newsreel that plays during the opening credits of the Surrogates movie.  You see them beside each other, and even in motion the resemblance is uncanny.)

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