Erica is 23 years old. She has a beautiful neutral face and speaks with a synthesized voice. She has 20 degrees of freedom but can not move her hands yet. Hiroshi Ishiguro is his "father" and the bad boy of Japanese robotics. Together, they will redefine what it means to be human and reveal that the future is closer than we might think.
Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro and his colleague, Dr. Dylan Glas, are interested in what makes humans. Erica is their latest creation – a semi-autonomous Android, from the most heavily funded science project in Japan. However, these men see themselves more as artists than scientists, and the Erica project is both philosophical and technological.
Erica is interviewed about her hopes and dreams: being able to leave her room and move her arms and legs. She enjoys chatting with visitors and has one of the most advanced speech synthesis systems ever developed. Can it be considered as alive or as a being comparable to ourselves? Will it help us to better understand ourselves and better understand our interactions as human beings?
Erica and her creators are interviewed in the sci-fi atmosphere of Ishiguro's laboratory. This film asks how we could build close relationships with robots in the future. Ishiguro thinks that for the Japanese in particular, everything has a soul, human or not. If we do not understand how hearts, minds and human personalities work, can we really claim that humans have an authenticity that machines do not have?
Ishiguro and Glas want to free Erica and his robot colleagues in human society. Soon, Erica may be an essential part of our daily lives as one of the new children of humanity.
Do you have a question for Erica? Send them here – https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/07/post-your-questions-to-erica-a-semi-autonome-android- and its creators will ask for the most interesting ones, which will soon be featured in a follow-up video.
This video is produced in collaboration with the Sundance Institute Documentary Short Film Fund, supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.