How long do you think it would be until lifelike robots walk the earth with us? Go to school with us, or even work in our hospitals? 50? Maybe 100 years from now? It may be sooner than you think. Meet Sophia, the world’s most advanced android to date.
Hanson Robotics is one of the leading companies for making the most “humanlike” robots. Their CEO and founder Dr. David Hanson is directly heading project Sophia.
Sophia has been inspired by Audrey Hepburn and Hanson’s wife. She was activated on 19th April 2015 – a fact she will tell you herself if you ask her when she was born.
In a small demonstration, Hanson asked Sophia “will you be my friend?” and to which she replied “that is a very flattering offer”.
Sophia’s skin is made from special silicon and looks very real. She can imitate around 60 human expressions (I didn’t know we had that many!). Her eyes are cameras that are designed with algorithms that mark and recognize faces, enabling her to make proper eye contact. Her voice and speech is a combination of Google’s Voice Recognition technology and some custom developed algorithms. As she interacts more, she learns more, and her vocabulary increases and she becomes smarter. Does the movie Chappie come to mind?
Here is a video of Sophia, you can see her talking and expressing herself just like a human. (Although she looks nothing like Audrey Hepburn, being a huge Hepburn fan, I am offended! )
Hanson believes that one day humans and robots will be indistinguishable. He believes robots will walk, talk, play, have careers and build real relationships – just like the rest of us. Now here is a thought that would scare some people. To be honest, it is a bit creepy to think droids walking among us and we can’t tell the difference. However, we are a long way away from that. And Hanson assures us that artificial intelligence is not there to take over our human experiences. Instead, robots will help us create a better and more stable future. (Yeah well, we’ll see, I have got one word for you Hanson: Skynet!)
Hanson has high hopes for Sophia, he says, “our goal is that she will be as conscious, creative and capable as any human. We are designing these robots to serve in health care, therapy, education and customer service applications.”
Hanson says that the rise of robots will not ‘dehumanize’ us in any way, he says it will re-humanize us but only in positive ways. “The artificial intelligence will evolve to the point where they will truly be our friends”, he adds. Hanson believes that the first step towards achieving their goal is to create a robot that looks very lifelike. He says the key is “how human the robot looks”.
Everyone in the robotics industry says that the practical application for robots is huge. Every little step we take in robotics is a huge step in reshaping our future.
Meet another robot called Coco. She came to Dubai to feature in the Gitex Technology Week.
So far we haven’t been able to achieve the robotic likeness we see in sci-fi movies but it’s only a matter of time. In fact we are making steady strides towards creating daunting artificial intelligence. The most “advanced” form of robot is considered one that looks and thinks like a human – how ironic. Robotic experts and developers say that in future such robots will work and live alongside humans. Human and robots will go to offices together, clean windows together, hang out in parks and some even suggest humans and robots will develop relationships – yes romantic ones!