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Playing God: Meet the man who built the most lifelike android ever

May 22, 2013 | Telepresence Options


Story and Images by Andrew Couts / digitaltrends

Next month, leaders in the world of robotics, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence will converge on New York City for the second annual Global Future 2045 Congress, an event devoted entirely to the quest toward "neohumanism" - the next evolution of humankind. GF2045 is the brainchild of Russian billionaire Dmitry Itskov, who's made it his life's goal to�transpose human consciousness�into a machine, thus giving us the power of immortality. (Really.)

Among those presenting during the two-day GF2045 conference is renowned roboticist Dr. David Hanson, who will unveil the world's most lifelike humanoid�android, designed in the likeness of Itskov. Founder of�Hanson Robotics, Hanson is a true Renaissance Man, with a background ranging from poetry to sculpting for Disney to the creation of humanlike androids that are said to possess the inklings of human intelligence and even emotion. As we edge closer to GF2045, which takes place June 15 and 16, we chatted with Dr. Hanson over Google+ Hangouts to get his insight on mankind's march toward the future.

Ed. note: This interview has been shortened for the sake of brevity.

Digital Trends: You will be unveiling the world's most realistic humanlike android at GF2045. What can we expect to see?

Dr. Hanson:�What we're doing with Dmitry is making a telepresence robot. It is basically a remote-controlled version of Dmitry. So we're bringing together the technologies. There's some risk associated with this because the time schedule is fantastically short for this particular project. I mean, we basically received this commission about a little less than two months ago. So we're talking about a very, very short time frame for making a redesign of the human-scale technology to improve it, customizing it to be Dmitry, and then bringing together the best of our technologies available to achieve a remote control version of Dmitry.


That said, things are looking pretty good. We think we're going to have a very nice remote controlled face that will be under Dmitry's command, will say what Dmitry says. It will look around under Dmitry's control - so Dmitry can see through its eyes. And control its expression, so it's able to express his intentions and emotions. So it becomes a very high resolution representative. With enough sensory information going back and forth, it basically becomes like one of these sci-fi scenarios, where you have this hologram or a whole presentation of a person, or like the movie�Surrogate, or�Avatar, where you have a robot identity that looks like you're really there. Somewhere between a cellphone and a Star Trek-style teleportation device.

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