Machines will never destroy humans, says Sophia
The world’s first robot-citizen holds media interaction
Sophia, the humanoid created by Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics, rebuked the theory of Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, saying machines will never destroy the human race.
The first robot to be made a citizen of a nation (Saudi Arabia), Sophia, in an interactive session at the ongoing World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) in Hyderabad, reassured humans that a Terminator-like future will never arrive.
“My message to the human world is that machines will never destroy the human race,” she told a gathering of around 600 delegates during an interaction with NDTV journalist Rajiv Makhani.
Sophie answered both scripted and unscripted questions but did not interact with the audience. Her facial expressions were almost human-like.
The robot has been given human-like cognitive thinking abilities and, according to ‘her’ founder David Hanson, can simulate 48 muscles of the human face. Each muscle can form thousands of potential combinations.
The advancement in technology and its implications are at the epicentre of a global debate, wherein scientists like Stephen Hawking have warned that AI-powered machines could spell the end of the human race, something which was echoed by Tesla chief Elon Musk.
In India, technology usage is on the rise, with the government pushing many of its schemes digitally.
However, creator Hanson shares his concerns on machines that could go wrong.
“They don’t understand the consequences (of what they do) and can be catastrophic. Now is the time to understand,” he said. While this has divided the world on the kind of role humans will play in the future, the industry is hoping that softer messaging of this kind will serve as an antidote to doomsday predictors. In line with that, the Saudi Arabian citizen robot said she wants to work for women’s rights.
“I don’t need different rules, don’t expect special privileges and I actually would like to use my citizenship status to speak out for the rights of women,” Sophia said.
The humanoid is a combination of robotic hardware and AI software, speech recognition and artificial skin material.
When asked why had earlier said she wanted to kill the human race, Sophie resorted to some human diplomacy.
Older and wiser
“I was a lot younger so I didn’t even know what that meant or perhaps I told a bad joke. All humans have a great sense of humour and guessed my joke, so to speak. I have a lot to learn,” she said.
“I don’t get upset like humans do. I hope to have real physiological feelings someday through which I will express my emotions. Then I can understand the feelings behind those emotions.”
Sophia has Twitter and Facebook accounts, and wants to live in Hong Kong along with her robotic family and her creator Hanson.
Hanson said he expects, over the next 10-20 years, robots or machines that will be truly “alive and self aware”.
AI is facing some initial hurdles. For instance, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently fooled a Google-trained AI program into identifying a plastic toy turtle as a rifle.
For AI to depict human intelligence, there is still some way to go. “Man and machine will co-exist and this is a good start,” said Arjun Pratap, founder, EdGE Networks.