Outside of the inexplicable beauty that permeates our everyday realities, life can be a boring, pointless, and sometimes horrific mess. The worst thing is that, while countless atrocities take place the world over, one man in Hong Kong has spent a year and a half and $50,000 to 3D print a robot that he believes looks like actor Scarlett Johansson.
Designed by product and graphic designer Ricky Ma, the Mark 1 robot features a 3D printed skeleton and about 70% of the body is 3D printed. Within the body are motors and electronics and, wrapped around its frame, is silicone skin. The Mark 1’s eyebrows and the areas around its eyes can tense and relax, due to motors within its face, and it can respond to sound by raising its eyebrows and winking. The bot can also move its arms and legs, turn its head and bow. As Ma labored away on his apartment balcony, he spent some $50,000 on constructing the bot.
Like Gaël Langevin, who designed and built the InMoov robot several years back, Ma had no robotics or electrical engineering experience when he set about this project. Unlike the open source labor of love that is InMoov, this Scarlett-bot is up for sale to investors. Ma tells Reuters, “I figured I should just do it when the timing is right and realise my dream. If I realise my dream, I will have no regrets in life. During this process, a lot of people would say things like, ‘Are you stupid? This takes a lot of money. Do you even know how to do it? It’s really hard. When you look at everything together, it was really difficult.”
To say this machine resembles the real Hollywood actor would be to insult Scarlett Johansson. To say that it is lifelike would be an insult to all of life. If I’ve learned one thing from reading Philip K. Dick, it’s that we should never mistake the simulacrum for the real deal.