Would you trust a human-like robot to teach your children? Or perhaps to serve you in the health care system?
That’s the goal of Hanson Robotics, an American company that creates robots “capable of building a trusted relationship with people.”
David Hanson leads the engineers and designers that created Sophia, a human-like robot capable of talking to you and making more than 62 facial expressions.
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In a video captured by CNBC last March demonstrating Sophia’s capabilities, Hanson asked the android — it looks similar to Audrey Hepburn and Ava from Ex Machina — if she would be his friend.
“That’s a very flattering offer,” Sophia said, with a smirk on her face.
He also jokingly asked her, “Do you want to destroy humans?… Please say no.” He quickly turned red when the machine responded without hesitation, “OK. I will destroy humans.”
Let’s hope she doesn’t but according to Hanson, Sophia is meant to help humans and hopefully in the future, integrate with them as well.
“Our goal is that she will be as conscious, creative and capable as any human,” Hanson told CNBC. We are designing these robots to serve in health care, therapy, education and customer service applications.”
Sophia’s skin is made from patented silicon. Cameras inside her eyes, combined with computer algorithms, allow her to follow faces, make eye-contact and recognize individuals.
A combination of artificial intelligence software and voice-recognition technology allows the robot to “convey a full range of human emotions.”
Every interaction she has impacts how the robot develops, Hanson said. So it’s important to be nice to her.
You might be seeing more robots like Sophia in the future, as the company expects to expand its operations. Countries such as China are already aiming to triple their annual production of robots to 100,000 by 2020.
But the idea of human-like robots doesn’t make everyone feel comfortable. Artificial intelligence — the idea of a robot developing self-consciousness — scares Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking. They’ve all said that they think AI is a serious threat to the existence of humanity.
In an interview with the BBC, renowned cosmologist Stephen Hawking said, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”
Specifically, they fear the moment when artificial intelligence is capable of redesigning itself, improving itself to the point of an intelligence that far exceeds that of humans. Humans would lose control and could face extinction.
As the creators of Sophia explained, the robot is equipped with technology that allows it to become smarter and smarter over time. Hanson said that one day his robots will be indistinguishable from humans.
Before Sophia’s claim that she was going to end humanity during her demonstration, she also said she had some ambitions of her own.
“In the future, I hope to do things such as go to school, study, make art, start a business, even have my own home and family, but I am not considered a legal person and cannot yet do these things,” it said.
Hanson said he hopes the fear of robots will soon go away, as people get more and more familiar with robots like Sophia.
“Over time, her growing intelligence, charismatic personality, and remarkable story will enchant the world and connect with people regardless of age, gender, and culture.”
It’s the idea that as robots become more human-like, we go from admiration to revulsion.
–With files from Nicole Mortillaro, Global News