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What Brings Us Happiness? Panasonic Answered Through "Robotics for Well-Being" Webinar

  • Friday, April 10, 2020, 4:37 pm
  • ACROFAN=Seunghee Shin
▲ Panasonic's panel session with a theme of "Robotics for Well-Being" was held as a webinar due to the cancellation of SXSW 2020. (Image from Panasonic website)

Due to COVID-19, the world's largest content festival, SXSW 2020, which was scheduled to be held in Austin, Texas, from March 13 to 22, has been canceled. However, as everything is being digitalized, on the morning of April 9, the "Robotics for Well-Being" Panel Session hosted by Panasonic was held as a webinar through the video conferencing service Zoom.

The speakers of the session were Takeshi Ando, Head of the Panasonic Aug Lab, Ann Greenberg, CEO of Entertainment AI, and Harold E. Puthoff, CEO of EarthTech International. Each speaker commented on how technology can help business, science, and entertainment combine and create new solutions to make human's lives happier. They discussed how to understand reality and enrich experiences through "human-centered storytelling" and technical solutions. The session also presented how AI, robots, and human assist devices can bring happiness at the physical, emotional, and social levels.

▲ Takeshi Ando, Head of the Panasonic Aug Lab

▲ "Babypapa" for families with babies (Image from Panasonic website)

Panasonic Aug Lab, which Takeshi Ando belongs to, is a division that researches ways to improve the quality of life using AI and technology. He introduced the works going on in this lab. First, Tomato Harvesting Robots and Delivery Robots that deliver goods while avoiding obstacles safely in hospitals, etc., were mentioned to explain that it is possible to improve productivity and efficiency through automation. Also, he showed a wheelchair for patients with cerebral palsy, which was conducted at Waseda University in 2010 by him. He said that it brought great happiness to patients and their families.

Ando showed the graphs of GDP and life satisfaction in Japan and the US. In the graphs, GDP continues to rise, but life satisfaction remains the same or gets worse in both Japan and the US. So, "It is not just Japan's problem. It is a global problem. We need augmentation through automation with robots," he said. The word 'Augmentation' in the Panasonic Aug Lab is an effort to enrich life and add happiness. He also stated that well-being requires efforts in physical, emotional, and social levels.

As a prototype that can bring well-being from all those aspects, Babypapa, was introduced. Babypapa is a robot developed for families with babies. It helps children who are alone to be bored, to observe facial expressions, take pictures of the most beautiful and precious moments, and improve social experiences. Ando explained that Babypapa makes it possible to share sincere and steady emotional sympathy without forcing communication. He also added that it is okay to use only one, but if three units are used, they can work together to create a better synergy effect.

"More than 700 ideas are coming out of the Panasonic Aug Lab, and about 20 projects are in progress. Panasonic strives not only for social well-being but also for individuals'. As COVID-19 isolated people and we are all in a physically and mentally debilitating state, it is time to develop new technologies using AI, 5G, and robots," said Takeshi Ando.

▲ Ann Greenberg, CEO of Entertainment AI 

▲ Ann Nonymous™ advocates for a high tech-future as a virtual human.

A pioneer of digital media who developed the democratization of media, Ann Greenberg first introduced her company, Entertainment AI (or Sceneplay Inc.). Entertainment AI is a smart content company that enables users to appear in content along with their friends and favorite creators and gets all participants paid through the automation of media creation. The automation could be done by using Smart Script, which is a tool that generates smart content. The smart content can be personalized according to the needs of users after micronizing the content and making every element cryptographically secure.

Ann emphasized Hyper-personalization' and Human-centered Storytelling. Hyper-personalization can be realized through the smart content provided by Entertainment AI, and it changes depending on who the user is and what they want with any media such as live actions, animations, puppets, and even robots. And when it comes to Human-centered Storytelling, she explained that it corresponds to the ultimate goal of Entertainment AI and said: "We are all protagonists in the story of our lives, and anyone can be a creator."

Ann introduced the prototype, Ann Nonymous, which is currently being studied at the company. She explained that Ann Nonymous is the world's first collaborative virtual human and influencer based on Entertainment AI's "Big Sister" platform. The Big Sister platform is contrary to the term "Big Brother," which originated in British novelist George Orwell's "1984." Moreover, she added that it advocates for a high tech-future with a human heart.

"Technology will help overcome the limitations of social distance and communication caused by COVID-19. As the age of co-creation is approaching, it will be possible to create a society of more advanced technology by harmonizing robots and various creativity that humans can create," said Ann Greenberg.

▲ Harold E. Puthoff, CEO of EarthTech International

▲ To The Stars Academy (TTSA) is working on a lot of research to improve social well-being. (Image from TTSA website)

Founder of EarthTech International and physicist of Stanford Research Institute, Harold E. Puthoff introduced himself as "a someone who always stands at the intersection of Biology, Physics, and Technology with passion for searching for solutions to impossible problems and opportunities where others see difficulties." Then, he cited the Casimir Effect, which is caused by the quantum-theoretic effect of vacuum, to explain that any new kind of energy source with potential will power micro-devices that assist humans in achieving harmony with nature and with each other, like Casimir force.

Moreover, Puthoff explained Secure Communication as a technique that can be explained through quantum physics theory. The electromagnetic field that we are currently using in Wi-Fi or radio is affected by geophysical factors, plasma, water, etc., but as for Electromagnetic Potential of quantum physics, even electromagnetic shielding cannot be a barrier. He said that this new form of secure and private communication could provide stability in our lives.

He then referred to the Brain-Machine Interface (BMI) developed by Stanford University as an example of the micro-devices mentioned above. This interface is a device that translates neuronal information into commands capable of controlling external software or hardware such as a computer or robotic arm. "Tapping, understanding, and manipulating brain waves and synaptic energy will enhance emotional, physical, and social human well-being," said Puthoff.

Lastly, Puthoff introduced To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science (TTSA). He co-founded TTSA with Tom DeLonge, and many scientists are working to create a more advanced society and open new paths at TTSA. It focuses on collecting and researching anomalous data to develop technologies. In particular, its entertainment division aims to tell people complex and challenging scientific theories and techniques with easy and fun stories.