He is a professor in the Department of Innovation Systems at the Graduate School of Engineering Science at Osaka University. He conducts research at the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute (ATR) and is the author of renowned texts on robotics such as “Android Science” and “What Is a Robot?” He has also constructed some humanoid robots that have made him famous, including one in his own image and likeness.
This year, the Opening Conference of Maker Faire Rome 2023 will host Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, a true personality in the world of robotics. Participating in this event represents an unmissable opportunity for enthusiasts, industry professionals, and anyone fascinated by the evolving relationship between humans and machines and the future social role of robots in everyday life.
Hiroshi Ishiguro’s Robotics
Hiroshi Ishiguro has dedicated his research and studies to androids, geminoids, and telenoids. He is one of the most internationally renowned names in the field of artificial intelligence research, but what has truly made him famous are his humanoid robots, fascinating creations that symbolize the purpose of his research: integrating robots into everyday life. However, according to Ishiguro, to achieve this goal, we must acknowledge that as humans, we naturally tend to interact primarily with our own kind. The best way to facilitate interaction between humans and androids is, therefore, to make them similar. Ishiguro envisions a future where robots, fully integrated into society, resemble us in appearance, movements, voice, and reasoning. To demonstrate that this is possible, he created the robot that has garnered worldwide attention: Geminoid HI-1.
What Makes Geminoid HI-1 Special?
Geminoid HI-1 is an exact robotic replica of Hiroshi Ishiguro himself. It shares the same hairstyle, clothing, face, and demeanor. A star of conferences, presentations, and talks, Geminoid HI-1 is made of silicone rubber, has facial muscles, the actual hair of the Japanese professor, and can engage in articulate conversations in all languages. Ishiguro remotely controls his robot through a computer, a microphone, and a camera. Geminoid HI-1 is designed to replicate his gestures: speaking, blinking, and mimicking expressions.
“Hello, everyone, and welcome to this conference. Actually, I am a copy of Professor Ishiguro; I am an android. I am made of silicone, and inside me, there’s a computer. If I wanted, I could present this conference myself. Unfortunately, today he is here, so I will let him speak.”
These were the words of Geminoid HI-1 introducing its creator during one of its visits to Italy at the “Humanlike Robots And Future Society” conference held at the MACRO in Rome. However, despite its brilliance, Geminoid HI-1 cannot emulate all human behaviors. It is essential to remember why it was created, to explore the interaction between humans and machines, particularly understanding how our brains respond to the visual stimulus of a robot identical to a human being.
Ishiguro’s Other Creations: Repliee Q2, Repliee R1, and Geminoid F
To create robots that are increasingly similar to us, Ishiguro continues his research in the fields of cognitive neuroscience and sociology, emphasizing the importance of understanding humans thoroughly before creating something resembling them. Ishiguro has pursued this vision of robotics by creating other androids such as Repliee Q2, a self-aware robot capable of singing Disney songs, and Repliee R1, an android identical to a 4-year-old girl. Among the successes mentioned by the professor is Geminoid F, created in collaboration with the University of Palermo, which became famous for its ability to act in theater productions.
Solutions to the Uncanny Valley Phenomenon
Despite the success of these androids, Ishiguro has tackled the challenge of the Uncanny Valley. This hypothesis, first proposed by Japanese robotics scholar Masahiro Mori, suggests that the initially positive feeling of familiarity experienced by a sample of people when encountering humanoid robots can actually turn into unpleasant sensations like repulsion and discomfort when the extreme realism of the robot reaches its highest point. To address this issue, Ishiguro developed Telenoids, robots with minimal and neutral features that have achieved considerable success, particularly in nursing homes for providing companionship to the elderly. Ishiguro’s vision goes beyond simply creating androids; his work reflects much broader questions about the future of society and the role of robots in everyday activities at home, on the street, and at work.
Additional Biographical Notes
Hiroshi Ishiguro was born in Shiga in 1963. He initially pursued painting but later developed a passion for robotics during a workshop led by Hanao Mori at Yamanashi University. After obtaining his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the Graduate School of Engineering Science at Osaka University, Hiroshi Ishiguro collaborated with some of the most prestigious universities, dedicating his studies to androids, geminoids, and telenoids. His influential role extends not only within the robotics community but also to the industrial sector, thanks to his active involvement in the establishment of Vstone, a company that facilitates the transfer of knowledge and technology from the academic world to the industrial sector.
These achievements make him one of the most influential figures in the field of robotics and artificial intelligence. Through his dedication, commitment, and work, he is making a significant contribution to technology and the academic world, laying the groundwork for a truly futuristic society.
While we await this future, you can meet Hiroshi Ishiguro and hear his live presentation at the Opening Conference of Maker Faire Rome 2023. Don’t miss this opportunity and participate in the eleventh edition of the festival celebrating innovation. The future awaits at the Fiera di Roma from October 20 to 22. For more information, visit the website www.makerfairerome.eu, where tickets are available online.