Technology in today’s world is advancing at a fast
rate, but not fast enough for the compared to the book Do Androids Dream of Electric
Sheep by Philip K. Dick where they book had flying cars, laser guns and realistic
electric animals. But most interesting technological advancement in the book
would be androids. The Nexus-6 androids are so realistic that they can blend in
with humanity. The Nexus-6 androids achieve this through there advanced
artificial intelligence, humanlike looks and movement along but there ultimate
downfall was their ability to understand human emotion and empathy. Based off
of those factors, there will be a comparison from the book to the real world
and the advance science has made with robots and technology.
In the novel, Nexus-6 androids were dealt able to
hold conversations seamlessly, learn to fight off danger and build an
underground community to protect one another from bounty hunters. The
artificial intelligence hasn’t reached that state yet in today’s world, but
there have been steps to reach it. There’s artificial intelligence online like
Cleverspirit where you can create online robots and be able to talk to. But
even more advanced is the humanoid Sophia the Robot which has recently been
granted citizenship by Saudi Arabia. Sophia is a humanoid that has the ability
to observe her surroundings and have conversations. Once being interviewed by
Jimmy Fallon. It’s creator at Hanson Robotics has even farther goals as he
states, “Our goal is that she will be as conscious, creative and capable as any
human,” Hanson told CNBC. We are designing these robots to serve in health
care, therapy, education and customer service applications.” Sophia is capable
of holding conversations, exhibiting over 60 facial expressions, and stated to
have “cameras inside her eyes, combined with computer algorithms, allow her to
follow faces, make eye-contact and recognize individuals.” All of this to add
depth to the conversation but her main drawback is being unable to understand
some concepts such as sarcasm and having a quirky response to a question as “speech
transcription algorithm can’t define the words it’s turning from speech to
text, and neither can a translation algorithm.” So, Sophia’s responses are premeditated
without much meaning leaving the conversation lacking a sense of originality.
Compared to the Nexus-6 androids, the world still has a long way to go until
they can match the communication level that was seen in the movie but are
making great strides towards the novels expectations.
The one downfall of Nexus-6 robots was their
inability to feel empathy. As a result of this they would fail the Voigt-Kampff
Test and their hidden identity as an android would be revealed. This area our
world is ahead of the novel. For some humanoids, the ultimate goal of their
creation is to care for people hospital patients, the elderly or people that
lack friends and loved ones. Robots such as Pepper use facial recognition to sense
emotions and changes the way it interacts with humans based off of its findings.
There are other robots such as Octavia who don’t rely heavily on cameras.
Instead “her theory of mind is a cognitive pattern. But it functions a lot like
empathy, that most cherished of all human emotions.” With these advancements
the robots could be used to reduce depression as they are able to console
others and possibly allow people to learn how to interact with others more. Robots
that can feel empathy are also important for humanity in general. With people
becoming more technologically dependent, they seem to be losing a sense of
compassion and interact with people while often having negative emotionless
responses. With being able to communicate with robots who understand feelings,
it could stop people from detached from their emotional side creating a more
positive environment for everybody. Robots in our time are superior to the
Nexus-6 androids in the ability to understand and exhibit emotions.
Robots have been stereotyped to have restricted
mobility and overall have a screen as a face along with a metal body. The Nexus-6
androids prove both of those wrong as they are able to blend in with society as
they have a natural human look and have natural movements with fighting
abilities that are equal to their bounty hunters. Compared to the book, our
world is just slightly behind in both of the movement and overall looks. The
University of Tokyo built two humanoids that resemble musculoskeletal system made
from aluminum, steel and plastic even adding synthetic tendons and joints.
They also added “a
sensory nervous system which is able to constantly monitor balance and
stability” They also have the ability to process information so they can function
on their own without being told exactly to do. The robots ability to bend its fingers
and have a wide range of motion in its joints, have given the robots the
ability to play badminton or completing exercises such as push-ups and chin-ups.
To complete the humanoid look the robots need to be covered in skin. There have
been advancements in artificial skin by researchers from UCLA and the
University of Washington.