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University working on android recreation of famous literary figure Natsume Soseki

Natsume Soseki

Nishogakusha University in Tokyo will aim to create an android replica of famous Japanese novelist Natsume Soseki (1867-1916) by December of this year, the university announced on June 7.

The android will include even the facial expressions and vocal characteristics of Soseki, and will be programmed to read out material and give lectures at junior high schools, high schools and universities.

When he was a boy, Soseki studied at Nishogakusha, which was then a school for the study of Chinese classics. This December will mark the 100th anniversary of Soseki's death.

The work is being supervised by professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University. Ishiguro's past androids, such as ones made after the late rakugo artist and designated national treasure Katsura Beicho and one made after entertainer Matsuko Deluxe, have attracted widespread attention. The face of the Soseki android will be based off of a 3D scan of a death mask taken after he died, as well as many photographs.

The android's voice will be created from recordings made by Fusanosuke Natsume, grandchild of Soseki and professor at Gakushuin University, whose body structure is nearly identical to that of the 159-centimeter Soseki. The android will be in a sitting posture, with a height of about 130 centimeters, and able to hold simple conversation through its artificial intelligence.

Natsume says, "It is very interesting that the goal is not to create an exact replica of Soseki, but instead modern people will create their own image of Soseki" through the android

Ishiguro says, "I think that robotics will bring a new form of research to literature studies."

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