Natsume Soseki Comes to Life in Android
Natsume Soseki, one of Japan's eminent writers, is now back to life in an android and greeted: "You will excuse my long silence."
The android, a joint product of Soseki's alma mater, Nishogakusha University, and Osaka University's group of android developers, was introduced to commemorate his centenary, December 9.
The developers mobilized a variety of data to create the android - Soseki's physical stats, his death mask made by his students, the voice of his grandson, Fusanosuke Natsume, etc. The android was presented on December 8 in Tokyo, clad in a western suit just like his image on the 1000-yen bill. He self-introduced himself:
"I'm Natsume Soseki. It's been some 100 years since I last saw you all," and went on to read part of his work "Yumejuya" (1908).
The chief developer, Pro. Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University, told the audience that it was his first time creating an android of a deceased person, adding:
"Suppose someone you do not know in person had a certain image built up over years, it can be a challenge to create his android in that particular image."
Soseki's grandson Fusanosuke Natsume who provided vocal data in the project is curious how his grandfather's image will change from what he has been thought to be so far.
Soseki's android is scheduled to participate in actual class work, reading out his own works, etc. and to help create a fresh image of Natsume Soseki by acquiring AI-based dialogue capabilities.
Incidentally, the idea of creating an android of Natsume
Soseki stemmed out of the narrative "Yumejuya" itself in which the author has a character express wish "to encounter 100 years from now". The project had timed it right for December 9, 2016, the 100th day of his death.
A charming thought to have one's android made out - not bad at all. (Nathan Shiga)