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Robots with Pain in Japan

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Can robots feel pain and emotions? A group of scientists from Japan claim to have created a child robot that can feel pain.

Scientists from Osaka University first developed a synthetic skin containing sensors to detect changes in pressure (a hard punch or a light touch). Later, the skin was attached to a life like child robot. Once attached, the child robot reacted to sensations through various facial expressions, the scientists said.

Lead researcher Professor Minoru Asada said that they are installing a touch and pain nervous system in the robot to make it feel the pain. Thus the robot can understand touch and pain in others, he said and added this could bring empathy in robots. Affetto is the name of the child robot.

Asada is also the President of Robotics Society of Japan. He said Japan believed that all inanimate objects had a soul. A robot is thus not different from humans, he added. He also said that they were for constructing a symbiotic society with artificially intelligent robots. Noting that Japan was a country that had an aging society, he said that these robots that experience pain and emotions could help the society at large.

Hisashi Ishihara, who helped with Robot design, said human characteristics and empathy are crucial for robots. He also felt that robots would be more effective in social bonding with people when they have a more sensitive and expressive body.

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