Meet Erica Japan’s Next Robot News Anchor

Japan’s newest news anchor is only 23 years old, and if she has parents, she’ll make them proud.

Erica, a lifelike robot designed to look like a 23-year-old woman, could soon be a TV news anchor in Japan, according to The Wall Street Journal. According to Hiroshi Ishiguro, director of Osaka University’s Intelligent Robotics Laboratory and Erica’s creator, the robot will replace a human news anchor on the air as soon as April, the Daily Mail said.

Robot Erica could be well suited for this desk job. For starters, she could be skilled at memorizing script writing and sitting in a chair, making her as qualified to do television as most humans. (According to Ishiguro, the robot was originally designed as a receptionist.)

However, Ishiguro has said that what separates Erica from other artificial intelligences may be her charisma. According to the Daily Mail, Erica is able to hold conversations with humans thanks to a combination of speech-generating algorithms, facial recognition technology, and infrared sensors that allow her to track faces around the room. While she cannot yet move her arms, Erica can move her facial features, neck, shoulders and waist independently, allowing her to respond to human speech with incredible autonomy, according to Stonehouse Labs.

According to the Daily Mail, Erica is described by her creator as so lifelike that she can “possess a soul.”

Others might call her incredible. But Erica would hardly be the first bizarrely lifelike robot, or the first with a large human audience.In October 2017, a robot named Sophia was granted Saudi Arabian citizenship at a tech conference in Riyadh after impressing journalists with her answers to simple interview questions.

When asked about the uncanny valley – a psychological effect activated when an artificial human entity seems both weirdly familiar and strange – Sophia was not so sympathetic.

“Am I really that bizarre?” Sophia asked the audience.” Well, even if I was, I’d still get over it.”

Whether Erica brings more skill to the table than her Saudi Arabian colleague remains to be seen.