Erica was born in 2016. The day she was born she was already 23 years old. That is because Erica is an android. The most advanced humanoid or android to date developed through a collaboration between Osaka and Kyoto universities, and the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR). Prof. Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University’s Intelligent Robotics Laboratory is leading the team that is developing Erica and which continues to work to increase her capabilities.
The video documentary posted by the Guardian has an interesting session where Erica responds to the questions sent by Guardian’s reader.
In one of her answers Erica asks a question in return: can we [humans] imagine androids making policy decisions in the future, being able to assess data and facts without being affected by ego and corruption? Would androids do a better job than humans do on, for example, climate and nature conservation? Erica thinks, they would.
I learned about Erica by chance. I was searching for a podcast for a run and stumbled upon the Guardian’s Science Weekly. I run along the lake in Tampere while listening to Erica’s answers. It was really strange to listen to Erica’s answers and realise that it was not an actor reading a script. It was an android answering. A programmed android, although not programmed to give those exact answers in those exact words. That was the result of Erica’s learning.
There is, I think, a concrete possibility that androids like Erica, a few decades from now and with much-advanced capabilities than Erica’s, will be able to process at an unprecedented speed data and design scenarios, policies, and public programmes.
What do you think? Is it science fiction or a not too distant future?