Courtesy of Geekologie, is this video of a little robot girl (HRP-4C) dancing at a Digital Expo, and I rank it as both amazing and incredible creepy. Amazing in the sense that we now have robots who can dance around without wheels, and creepy in the sense that some engineer somewhere probably modeled this thing after his daughter (I know I’d feel uneasy knowing there’s a digital doppleganger of myself walking around and performing at shows.)
I still can’t see any good to come out of making robots look exactly like humans. Once that technology’s perfected, what do we do with it? Robots by themselves can be useful, but where in society can they benefit from sharing our faces? I’d never once walked up to a clerk, secretary, or salesperson and thought “boy, I wish this person was a robot.” And if I did, I certainly didn’t think “boy, I wish this person was a robot who had a human face.” If I’m going to be served by a robot, I want them to be more like Johnny Five or C-3PO. I need to know I’m dealing with a machine. Otherwise, the technology would only serve to deceive us, leading to immoral uses (like building the perfect sex-bot, or planting a robot assassin in the White House.)
I’d rather see them start building robots that resemble CGI characters, like someone out of a Pixar movie as opposed to straight-up real life. Sure, CGI looks fake, but in some movies, it’s just the right amount of fake. It’s easier to empathize with Woody or Shrek than it is to stare into the cold dead eyes of Tom Hanks from “The Polar Express,” and it allows people to reconnect with robots on a more familiar (and better-tested) level. It’s one of those cases where I don’t think they need to cross the uncanny valley, but that’s just my opinion.