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It is 2018 and a lot of the things that used to be in the realm of Science Fiction are hitting us as reality. Imagine, trying to watch the news and having a robot presenting it to you. This is what viewers of Japanese broadcaster Nippon TV are going to be watching soon as the organization employed its first Android (fancy term for a robot that looks human) presenter.
Its, sorry, her name is Erica Aoi. The name has a meaning -Erica (ERato Intelligent Conversational Android) Aoi (a combination of AI for artificial intelligence and Ø from “NIPPØN TV,” the corporate logo of Nippon TV). She is a prime example of the advances made in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Robotics in recent years.
According to Nippon TV, she was “borne out of the first project between Osaka University, Kyoto University, and the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International’s Japan Science and Technology Agency Strategic Basic Research Programs. Their goal was to develop an autonomous robot that can live symbiotically with humans.”
Like stop freaking us out already.
Anyway, the Android presenter told the media at the welcome ceremony for the new employees of Nippon TV:
“We live in a time when media is changing drastically, and I am truly honored to be able to join Nippon TV, a company rich in history, “commented Aoi.
“My hope is to become a valuable contributor to the company as quickly as possible, and I will put all the talents that I will be acquiring into full use to learn the work that my older colleagues are doing. I look forward to working with all of you and becoming an android anchor that can convey the many wonders of Japan to the world.”
Hiroyuki Fukuda, Nippon TV Operating Officer and President of the Programming Division, welcomed the birth of the company’s first android anchor by saying, “People are asking if artificial intelligence (AI) will take away the jobs of humans, especially now that it is 2018. We at Nippon TV, however, believe that when our employees’ creative outputs synergize with technologies, innovations in content creation come to life. We are not aiming for alternatives to humans, but for enhancements in creativity that are the result of androids working together with people. Erica joins our company as an android anchor and is already equipped with voice recognition, speaking, and listening skills. She will immediately join her fellow anchors and learn from her seasoned colleagues how to properly vocalize, select the most appropriate words, and polish her conversational skills. She will gain the techniques to process live sports data and bring the relevant information into her conversations. Please look forward to seeing her in action!”
Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University, who has been developing Erica and other androids with Nippon TV said: “I would be delighted if the world learns about the most cutting-edge android technology through Erica’s activities,” commented “
You can watch a video of Erica while she was still in development and acting as a receptionist next: