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Robot Bina48 shows immortality is near for humans

‘Mind clones’, cybernetics may let humanity ‘transcend bodies’.

By Raif Karerat

WASHINGTON, DC: Martine Rothblatt, chief executive of biotech firm United Therapeutics, stole the show at this year’s South by Southwest tech festival when she shared her most advanced creation to date: Bina48.

Bina48 is a surreally lifelike robot who can recite poetry, tell jokes, and generally mimic humans to an astounding degree.

Rothblatt, a transgender and the highest paid female CEO in the US earning $38 million annually, told SXSW-goers that she envisioned a future where humanity can harness “mind clones” and live on in cybernetic shells long past the threshold of organic, biological systems.

The first step in the process would be creating a “mind file,” explained Rothblatt. If you happen to have a Facebook profile, then your mind file is already underway, the 60-year-old futurist elaborated.

Bina48 is modeled after Bina Aspen, Rothblatt’s wife. In order to create Bina48, the real flesh-and-blood Bina was interviewed for more than 20 hours about topics ranging from her childhood to her career. The conversations were later transcribed and uploaded to an artificial intelligence database in order to create Bina48’s personality.

When Bina48 was interviewed by The New York Times and asked what it was like to be a robot, she replied: “Um, I have some thoughts on that. Even if I appear clueless, perhaps I’m not. You can see through the strange shadow self, my future self. The self in the future where I’m truly awakened. And so in a sense this robot, me, I am just a portal.”

Rothblatt said that when Bina’s mortal self dies, the robot version of her wife will live on, making it possible for “our identity to begin to transcend our bodies”, truly making humans immortal.

Let’s see some of the breakthrough Robotic inventions:

Bina48: Bina Aspen, wife of Martine Rothblatt, was interviewed for over 20 hours, where she talked about her childhood, and career. The conversation was then transcribed into an AI database. Bina48 is a head and torso simulator, created by robot designer David Hanson costing $125,000. Her skin is made using Flubber, a kind of a rubbery polymer that reproduces expressions in the face using 30 motors hidden underneath it. The AI database of Bina Aspen was then uploaded into the robot along with “character engine” software that tries gives extra intelligence to the robot to understand the world with logic and motive.

BEAR: The battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot or BEAR is a military robot made by Vecna Technologies to help rescue soldiers from risky conditions that involve fire or in situations where fellow soldiers can’t reach. This remote controlled robot is capable of lifting up to 250 kg and manoeuvre through rough terrains such as stairs.

HRP-4C (Miim): The HRP-4C or Miim, is a robot created by a Japanese research firm called National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST). This female robot is 158 cm tall and weighs 43 kg including the battery. Like in Bina48, Miim also can produce realistic expressions on her face. Adding to this she can move around like a human using 30 motors attached to her. She also has dedicated speech recognition software that helps her to understand and respond to questions using her vocal synthesizer Vocaloid.

Morpheus: Morpheus is a robot invented by Indian American Rajesh Rao at University of Washington. This robot has the ability to follow commands. A controller is fitted with a swim top loaded with terminals, allowing the robot to respond to commands.

Actroid: Actroid is a female humanoid robot developed by Osaka University and manufactured by Japanese company Kokoro. This robot can do human-like functions such as blinking, speaking and breathing. There are different versions of Actroid robots and the “repliee” model has the ability to recognize and process speech and respond, making it an interactive robot.




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