by Julia Hingorani
The science fiction genre has long promoted the idea of robots and artificial intelligence. Until recently, this idea has only been a reality in theaters. This fantasy that we are used to only seeing on screen has almost become a reality for the world.
Among the many shocking developments from 2017 is that of Sophia the Robot. Sophia the Robot is currently the most advanced robotic creation and has sparked the world’s interest.
Sophia’s creator, Hanson Robotics, hoped to design Sophia so that emotions could be expressed; Sophia even has a sense of humor.
Moderator of Robotics Club and Science Department Chair, Dr. Sharon Genoways, points out that we already encounter artificial intelligence (AI) robots daily. “If you think about it, we constantly interact with artificial intelligence each time we talk to Siri or Alexa. Sophia just puts a face and some emotion to this already existing technology,” Dr. Genoways said.
This robot is human-like, with a distinct look. The robot’s creator, Dr. David Hanson, used his skills as a former Disney Imagineer to craft Sophia’s features.
He aspires to create machines that will transcend human intelligence. As stated by Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics, it is designed to look similar to the famous Audrey Hepburn. The AI robot has high cheekbones, smooth skin and a thin nose.
Sophia is described by Hanson Robotics to have “simple elegance” and embody a classic beauty that is familiar to the public. They hoped that an appealing appearance would help with the public acceptance of Sophia.
Sophia the Robot has made her rounds in television media, including an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in April of 2017. The robot also has social media accounts, including a Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
The robot has already accomplished citizenship. As of Oct. 25, Sophia became a citizen of Saudi Arabia, making history as the first robot to be granted this status. Saudi Arabia is the first country to offer citizenship to a robot.
“I am very honored and proud of this unique distinction. This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship,” Sophia said. The robot spoke at the Future Investment Initiative Conference in Saudi Arabia in October of 2017. “We aim to create a better future for humanity by infusing artificial intelligence with kindness and empathy, cultivated through meaningful interactions between our robots and the individuals whose lives they touch,” according to hansonrobotics.com.
The prime reason the AI robot was granted citizenship is because Sophia expressed the desire to better the world and gain more human-like qualities. “My AI is designed around human values like wisdom, kindness and compassion,” Sophia said.
It has been expressed that the AI robot wants to help humans make a better world for themselves. “The purpose of robots has also been to make our lives easier by do things better, faster, cheaper,” Dr. Genoways said.
While Sophia’s citizenship is widely accepted by some, others have a different perspective on the development. “I thought giving Sophia citizenship was interesting because citizenship, especially in Saudi Arabia, shouldn’t be take for granted (and while I doubt Sophia ‘takes it for granted’) because human rights isn’t really Saudi Arabia’s strong suit since women don’t even have citizenship,” sophomore Kelly Williams said.
There is no doubt that the developments regarding Sophia the Robot are leaps in the field of science. “This will hopefully create more interest in the computer science areas, areas that desperately need more workers–and women!” Dr. Genoways said.
AI intelligence has always proven to be a controversial topic, but Sophia the Robot is here to stay.