Scientists are creating robot faces from ‘cultured human cells’ and it’s something I wish I could unsee now


We all know that science fiction movies are literally just fiction. It’s not like scientists are actively trying to create something that would fit into a movie where cyborgs from the future mix with us humans. Normal? Well, when a team of bioengineers create a mask of living human skin cells that robots can wear and can be made to “smile,” what else am I supposed to think?

Few stories about scientists’ efforts have sparked such a unanimous and unequivocal response from the PC Gamer Hardware team as this one. New scientist (By Hot equipment) informed Fr work of a team of bioengineers at Harvard University, where they managed to create “a mixture of human skin cells grown in a collagen scaffold and placed on a 3D-printed resin base.”

Sounds great, right? Artificial body and skin research can work wonders for people with earnest injuries and the like. However, this particular team’s goal is to make robots look more like humans, as well as make them more approachable and amiable. I would say that while human-like robots are not as vital as treating earnest burns or wounds, they may be worth pursuing.

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You can judge for yourself by watching the video above, but the ever-staring eyes (why does he have eyes?), the rictus grimace, and the Dr. Who-style skin stretching made me feel rather uncomfortable and more than a little off balance. And I wasn’t the only person in the office who was fighting the urge to grab the flammenwerfer and burn it before there was any chance of it being wrapped around a metal skeleton, which then began stomping with murderous intent.

Nightmare-inducing robot “faces” aside, there’s some really frigid science behind it all, and it’s demanding not to be impressed by what the team has accomplished. If artificial skin and flesh can be perfected, not only the world of surgery can benefit, but also cosmetics and pharmaceutical research into drugs delivered through the skin.

“Studying the correlation between facial muscle contractions and the resulting facial expressions may provide insight into the physiological aspects of emotion, leading to new explorations in disease treatments such as facial paralysis surgery.”

I’m all for this kind of progress, but I prefer my robots to be distinctly robot-like. In a world of deep fakes and generative artificial intelligence, let at least one technological advancement not disguise itself as a human, right? Who would like to live in a world where James Cameron is not an ordinary filmmaker, but a true prophet of the future?

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