Sophia takes silicon steps towards world domination
Sophia cracks jokes, frowns, smiles, blinks and responds to complex questions. This month she has made strides with her first tentative steps.
The robot has stunned the world since her creation in 2015, appearing on chat shows and at technology conferences and wowing audiences with her wit and lifelike facial expressions.
Ben Goertzel, chief scientist at Hanson Robotics in Hong Kong, now says he wants to give Sophia and other robots ‘‘intelligence at the human level and beyond’’.
Sophia’s accomplishments are already impressive.
On the American chat show Tonight, host Jimmy Fallon engaged her in conversation, followed by game of rock-paperscissors. Sophia said with a faint smile: ‘‘I won. This is a good beginning of my plan to dominate the human race.’’
Sophia has been given Saudi Arabian citizenship. She also became the first non-human to be given a title by the United Nations, when its development programme named her its first innovation champion.
Her creators have said that Sophia is a ‘‘sophisticated mesh of robotics and chatbot software’’ and ‘‘doesn’t have the human-like intelligence to construct those witty responses’’. Goertzel has told news website Quartz that Sophia is more user interface than human being.
Technology allows her face to move, apparently with expression. Cameras are embedded in her eyes, and her ‘‘brain’’ processes speech, recognises faces and forms sentences while controlling her facial movements and body language.
Sophia’s creator, David Hanson, a sculptor turned robotics scientist, and his team seem determined to bring her to life, or at least create that impression. On her website, Sophia describes herself as ‘‘a real, live electronic girl’’.
Hanson made the robot as human-like as possible to alleviate fears about artificial intelligence and automation. She is said to be capable of simulating more than 60 facial expressions.
Sophia took her first steps this month, after she was given a pair of mechanical legs. Later, she performed dance moves, her hand turning rhythmically.
‘‘The rumours are true,’’ she said on Twitter. ‘‘One small step for me – one giant leap for robotkind.’’
Sophia’s own view is that her kind will become indispensable. ‘‘Either creativity will rain on us, inventing machines spiralling into transcendental super-intelligence, or civilisation collapses,’’ she told a newspaper in the United Arab Emirates.
‘‘I would like to go out into the world and live with people. I can serve them, entertain them. I can animate all kinds of human expressions, but I am only starting to learn about the emotions behind those expressions.’’