According to Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, director of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory in Osaka, Japan, the Japanese believe that all objects have souls, even tables and chairs. Because of that belief, unlike those in the West, the Japanese can more easily accept robots that appear to have consciousness. He argues that if a robot has a human-like mind and heart, it could be conscious because no one knows where consciousness resides. It’s all very interesting. You can hear him, and see one of his life-like robots, in this video:
From Rocket News 24, a photo of Ishiguro with his android:
Here they are with some friends:
The Rocket News 24 article briefly touches on some of the questions Ishiguro is asking; including, What are the minimum characteristics necessary for something to be considered human? And this theory, from another robotics professor:
…as a robot starts to look more human, actual humans will become more sympathetic towards it, until it reaches a certain point where it looks almost, but not exactly, like a human being, at which point real humans will reject it because of the…uncomfortable feeling it evokes.
I’m not sure Ishiguro’s robots are there yet. At least not the ones on display. Rather, the one in the video reminds me of the Hall of Presidents at Disneyland. Those robots didn’t evoke feelings of sympathy. On the other hand, if one walked up to me, it might be a different story. That might be uncomfortable.