Prototype for everyone’s future BFF, Hello Sophia!

Humanoid

Last week all the buzz in the android tech world was about Sophia, a lifelike robot (or more precisely a female humanoid) created by Hanson Robotics, was unveiled and show cased at the South by Southwest (SXSW) technology conference in Texas. We all watched the video with Sophia and the CEO of Hanson robotics Dr. Robert Hanson, in this CNBC video.

There are a couple of trains of thought on how you felt when you watched the video of a life-like android having a conversion and mimicking human expressions. Fascinated by the human skin (patented technology called “Frubber™”-flesh like rubber), amazed at the movement of the facial features more advanced than seen before (Sophia has more than 60 expressions), afraid (too soon for robots to take over the world), unnerved (something about the eyes), or did someone say uncanny valley?

The company’s website slogan says “We Bring Robots to Life”, their mission “to create a better future for humanity by infusing artificial intelligence with kindness and compassion, achieved through millions of dialogs between our robots and the people whose lives they touch”.  The CNBC video has Dr. Hanson’s statement “We are designing these robots to serve in health care, therapy, education and customer service applications,”

But by far the declaration by Sophia is what got everyone chatting, when Hanson jokingly asked about Sophia destroying the humans (I am assuming this was unscripted) and the reply by Sophia “Ok I will destroy the humans”- ouch!

With countless science fiction movies and TV series with virtuous and not so virtuous humanoid plots, the social media frenzy started discussions such as “creepy looking robot”, “sexy killer robot” –look alike “Ex Machina like Artificial Intelligence to destroy humans”.

This made me reflect about deeper societal challenges we are to face with the advances in artificial intelligence and humanoids. Thought I’d share this profound and provocative exploration of ideas/ethics for society to ponder, in this episode by PBS Digital Studios, PBS Off Book, The New Rules of Robot/Human Society. It inquiries about of who owns the robots, who programs them, who orders them, manipulates/exploits them or vice versa can the robots do the same to us.

Welcome to a new dawn, a new type of industrial revolution –Hello Skynet.

References

Could you fall in love with this robot? CNBC, Harriet Taylor, March 16 2016.

Meet Sophia, the female humanoid robot and newest SXSW celebrity, Mac world, Oscar Raymundo, March 17, 2016

Crazy-eyed robot wants a family — and to destroy all humans, CNET, Michelle Starr, March 20, 2016

Photo Credit: Humanoid by Dr J Clarke CC SA by 2.0

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