Documentaries  |  ,   |  April 12, 2015

The Human Robot

Full documentary. 49 minutes.

Documentary by Rob van Hattum. Produced by VPRO Backlight. 49 minutes.

How scared do we actually have to be of smart and social robots? If you ask western people what they think about robots, they are rather reluctant or even a little scared to answer. In Japan it’s completely the opposite, the Japanese love robots. In Japan, all objects – including the robots – have a ‘soul’. This means that in Japan human robots, or intelligent robots will be accepted much easier than in the West. In this VPRO Backlight story director Rob van Hattum investigates the frameworks that determine the boundaries of how we see smart and social robots.

  • Naho Kitano is CEO of a company that designs ‘snake robots’ that can look for people in collapsed buildings. But as a sociologist she has extensively been studying robot ethics, trying to answer the question why ‘the West’ is so much more scared of robots than the Japanese.
  • Japanese engineer Hiroshi Ishiguro makes robots and investigates what “human being” means. He also built an android of himself, which became his identity.
  • Dutch social robotics professor Vanessa Evers is building social robots that approach you with understanding, that really understand what you mean. These robots can help you with a museum tour or point the way in an airport.
  • American philosopher Daniel Dennett is convinced humans themselves are robots made from robots, made from robots, made from robots. Human cells and parts of the cells can be seen as robot systems. He says our brain is a hardware robot platform that is being filled with the software of our culture and that is what makes us intelligent…

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