Sonzai-kan.

Three quotes from “The Man Who Made A Copy Of Himself,” an article about Hiroshi Ishiguro, a Japanese roboticist who’s made a robot double of himself. The article starts like this:

Hiroshi Ishiguro, a roboticist at Osaka University, in Japan, has, as you might expect, built many robots. But his latest aren’t run-of-the-mill automatons. Ishiguro’s recent creations look like normal people. One is an android version of a middle-aged family man—himself.

And then:

By building humanlike robots Ishiguro hopes to decipher what the Japanese call sonzaikan—the feeling of being in the presence of a human being. Where does the sense of humanness come from? And can you convey those qualities with a robot?

from here.

And then:

Hiroshi Ishiguro stomps on the accelerator. The black Mazda RX-8 roars onto the highway, the heavy-metal Scorpions blasting from the speakers. We’re driving to Osaka University’s Toyonaka Campus. Ishiguro is wearing aviator sunglasses, black polyester pants, a black vest on top of a black shirt, along with a black belt, socks, and shoes.

“Give me question,” he says, his eyes fixed on the road.

I ask whether he always dresses in black.

“Why do you change your clothes?” he says. “Do you change your name? So why do you change your clothes? Name is identity. Face is identity. But the majority of your [appearance] comes from your clothes. You should not change your clothes. Do you agree?”

I meekly suggest that all-black attire might get a bit hot in the summer.

“We have air conditioners,” he says. “Next question.”

Photo by Makota Ishida.

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