Meet Sophia. She's an advanced artificial intelligence robot. Her creator is Dr. David Hanson, founder of Hanson Robotics in Hong Kong. After working at Disney as an “Imagineer,” Dr. Hanson began imagining a world with machines that were smarter than humans. Machines that could learn creativity, empathy and compassion. Sophia is the latest and most advanced product of that initial aspiration.
Designed in Audrey Hepburn’s image, Sophia has high cheekbones and a slender nose. A complex set of motors and gears enable a range of facial expressions. But what’s even more impressive is the learning software that stores bits of conversations in its memory. This gives Sophia the ability to grasp the flow of discussion to produce live answers in real-time. Essentially, Sophia is an evolving machine with an increasing intelligence.
Dr. Hanson says he created Sophia with the goal of providing personal aides to the elderly and others in need. According to Hanson, robots like Sophia should be able to not only understand us but care about us.
And it seems many humans are already reciprocating that perceived kindness. Last month, in a historic move, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia made Sophia the first robot in the world to ever be granted citizenship.
But there are still those that are hesitant about humanoids and AI. Perhaps surprisingly, SpaceX founder, Elon Musk, is one of them. He has been vocal about the dangers of creating machines that surpass human intelligence, viewing them as an “existential threat.”
This doesn’t stop Hanson. He says he plans to unveil other robots to join Sophia in a humanoid family, and perhaps eventually a society.
The age of living androids is among us.