Mon 5 Jan 2009
At last! The Age of Robots has arrived! As we stride into 2009, Canadian roboticist Trung Le unveils Aiko, the anatomically correct fembot* with which he hopes to take the world by storm.
Le boasts that Aiko can greet, shake hands, read out loud, perform mathematical calculations and give the weather forecast, accomplishments one could not fail to find useful in an anatomically correct companion. I urge you to go here and watch a demonstration video of Aiko in action (no Polanski & Atlas, not that kind of action).
The picture to the right shows Le examining Aiko for anatomical correctness. Seriously!
“I do not like it when you touch my breasts,” Aiko responds rather petulantly, as she spastically swats in the general direction of Le like a debutante paralytic on Blackberry Nip. This is disturbing on so many levels, not the least of which is that Le has referred to Aiko elsewhere as his ‘daughter’. Aiko’s general demeanour is also rather unsettling, making public appearances as she does in a wheelchair, with one hand bandaged in a black mitten, and the other flapping around disconcertingly like a rubber glove filled with jelly. I offer up my usual observation regarding robots: what Aiko lacks in the reality stakes she more than makes up for in creepy factor. I would cast Aiko in a horror movie in a flash (Ring IV, maybe, where Samara returns to inhabit the boneless body of a monotonally speaking crippled Japanese Michael Jackson fan with Tourette’s).
And while Aiko may be considered by some to be the pinnacle of anatomical correctness, her language skills could use a little work: “Why did you do that for?” she asks, when Le gives her a Chinese burn (you think I’m making this up don’t you?). I hope her weather forecasts are more accurate than her grammar.
Meanwhile, in China (home of all kinds of sensational technical breakthroughs), DIY roboticists Wang Wenrong and Wu Yulu are building ‘an army’ of home-made robots for purposes unspecified. Given that the mechanical marvels are said to be able to serve drinks, light cigarettes, bow, weave, sing, play musical instruments and scale walls, we can only speculate about what these Chinese tinkerers have in mind for their militia of automaton stormtroopers. And when we learn that some of them are being fashioned in the likeness of Hillary Clinton (see the anatomically-correct spitting image at left, having her uterus adjusted by Wang Wenrong), well, we can’t help but feel a little uneasy.
*I don’t know about you, but for me the use of the term ‘anatomically correct’ in the context of female mannequins (robotic aspirations aside) just sounds like a euphemism for ‘sex doll’.