Now I can understand that the robot will be make contact with another on earth, that makes perfect sense, but a question that is seriously playing on my mind is how on earth (no pun intended) can Kirobo, the talking robot, give emotional care and support to a human being? Everyone, no matter how big or strong needs emotional support from a loved one and it is from developing communicative skills and empathy over the course of our lives that we can reach out to each other in times of need.
Whilst Kirobo will recognise Wakata's face, I honestly cannot comprehend how a robot can talk to a human being as though he/it understands human behaviour and human emotions. The mind is such a complex structure to understand and although this robot may have been programmed with all the latest technology, I just wonder can we programme love into a machine? Cheesy, I know, but I don't necessarily mean the romantic love of a couple. It fascinates me to question how a scientist can give a robot the required level of loving care that can mentally and emotionally support a human being.
Perhaps I am thinking into this too deeply; I am, after all, speaking from the point of view of an English literature student who has to analyse everything in extreme depth for the sake of a decent essay. I just want to take a minute to comment on the appearance of this Kirobo character. It's all well and good that he is inspired by a cartoon character called Astro Boy, however, his black holes of eyes represent nothing short of someone who has taken a large amount of drugs who is in the stages where they feel 'spaced out'- if you'll pardon the pun. As well as having the obvious druggie eyes- the thing is toy sized! I'm sorry to the Japanese manufacturers who take pride in the spectacle that is Kirobo, but part of emotional support is through contact; be it a hug or a pat on the back, these small actions are enough to lift us from despair and it is safe to say that unless he is programmed to do so, a robot cannot do this either.
I may speak like a cynical old woman, but I do respect Takahashi, the designer of Kirobo. He affirms that the robot will be able to 'function as a mediator between person and machine,' and the idea that he wants to bring humans and technology further together emotionally is brilliant. However, I just question whether this should be tested on someone going into space, who will experience moments of downright fear and vulnerability. Is a drug-eyed robot enough? Will Kirobo's somewhat 'cute' features and voice be enough to be a suitable companion for Wakata in space?