Friday, May 13, 2016

Maša Jazbec Lecture Event Blog

This week I attended Maša Jazbec’s lecture at the Fowler Museum. She is a PhD student researching robots and androids in Japan, and talked about her field of study. Simply put, her lecture was fascinating. Masa went over a brief history of the invention and development of robots in the first half of the lecture. Just like what I learned in class, she mentioned how robots were popularized first on the artistic side – The Gotem (1915) and Metropolis (1927) were two movies that featured robots.

During the second half of lecture, Maša showed us over twenty examples of real life applications of robots today. What I thought was quite interesting was how Maša said Japan’s technology with robots is about harmonization and entertainment, whereas American robots seem a bit scary. For example, Karakuri automata (created in Japan) was a mechanized puppet that could bring guests tea. However, Boston Dynamics design robots for the army and looks more like an attack dog than a friendly robot. This perspective of robot culture between the East and West was also taught in class by Professor Vesna.

Boston Dynamics Robots

Japanese Robot Can Serve You Tea

The most fascinating example Maša showed us was Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro’s Geminoid. The Geminoid looked exactly like himself and had visible behaviors such as facial movements. It didn’t look like a doll or robot at all, as the outside of the Geminoid resembled human skin. If one closely inspects the hands, one can see the wrinkles on the knuckles and creases of the fingernails. The details of this robot is no coincidence because Professor Ishiguro actually wanted to be an artist originally. The Geminoid was truly a masterpiece and I believe that it is truly the intersection between art and science. 
Can You Tell Which One Is The Robot?
Selfie with Masa

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