Erica the Robot
In a world of ‘fake’ news, the absolute fakest might be coming out of Japan. Well kind of. Meet Erica, a lifelike robot which is poised to soon be Japan’s hottest robot news anchor.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the robot was developed by Hiroshi Ishiguro, the director of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University. According to Ishiguro, Erica has one of the most advanced artificial speech systems in the world. If that’s not enough, he claims she is warm and caring, and may soon have an ‘independent consciousness’.
Robot News Anchor
Sounding like something out of HBO’s Westworld, Erica can recite scripted writing but according to Ishiguro, she is also capable of holding a conversation with humans, thanks to speech-generation algorithms, facial-recognition technology and infrared sensors that allow her to track faces across a room. (Credit: LiveScience.com)
If that’s not creepy enough, “Erica” even tells jokes. We’ll be covering robot stand up comics in a future article on YellRobot.com (joke..maybe)
Positives and Negatives of News Robots
For now, Erica won’t be collecting or curating the news (that job will be left to us lowly humans), she’ll simply be reading it. But how long will it be until organizations are sending robots out into the field to collect and report the news? They might prove to be quite useful in places that are too dangerous to send a human journalist such as war zones or areas engulfed by forest fires. On the other hand, as with other industries, the more robots are used, the more jobs that will be taken away from actual humans. Theoretically, you can have a news channel that is made up mostly of robots and maybe a few humans behind the scenes pulling the strings. RNN or Robot News Network might soon be a channel on your tv.
As we’ve seen, human news reporters can spin stories quite differently depending on what cable channel they work for or what their personal beliefs are. Maybe robots will report the news without bias but we know better. Most likely their words and emotions will reflect the humans who own and program them. We also live in a world of hackers. What would happen if a robot gets hacked during a live news report? In an event such as a weather emergency or public health warning, this could have very serious repercussions.
Whether we like it or not, robots are becoming more and more a part of our lives. Time will tell whether robots will be a positive or negative in reporting news. It won’t be up to androids like Erica but to the ones controlling her and ultimately the human audience watching her.
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