The Human Robot - VPRO documentary - 2015





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Published on Jun 12, 2015

How scared do we actually have to be for 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.

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.

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.

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.

Originally broadcasted by VPRO in 2015.
© VPRO Backlight April 2015

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Director: Rob van Hattum
Research: Chris Vijn, Frederique Melman
Producer: Marie Schutgens
Editors: Marije Meerman, Doke Romeijn
English, French and Spanish subtitles: Ericsson.
French and Spanish subtitles are co-funded by European Union.


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