For a humanitarian, a journalist and a marketing enthusiast- going out and about is just a way of living. However, when it comes to the robot, ensuring that they at least talk to humans more naturally has been very challenging. For Sophia the Robot, these things have seemed relatively easy- almost as if she is a semi-sentient Barbie doll with a career, and the path she has chosen is marketing.
When Sophia first came out, everyone went gaga over the humanoid robot that talks to people and responds to relatively complex questions. It was provided citizenship by Saudi Arabia, the first non-natural entity to be granted such a right. Designed by David Hanson, the founder, and CEO of Hanson Robotics, Sophia became the stalwart of robots and AI in the world for some time, before people started noticing deeply.
First off, Hanson, ‘the creator’ of the AI robot was a former Walt Disney ‘Imagineer’ who created robotic technologies and sculptures for the company and held a BFA in film. He also holds a Ph.D. in aesthetics but isn’t a renowned name in the world of artificial intelligence. Keeping Hanson’s educational credentials and professional experience aside, there is something more to Sophia that we need to address.
The world of technology has been gendering imbalanced for quite a while now and Sophia, as some people suggest, creates a submissive, beautiful, young version of feminine ideals that several people fancy. Her looks became the talk of the town after she was unveiled. Her body structure and the striking attractiveness of her face, her sparkling eyes and her provocatively red lips signify a much deeper problem according to some experts- it signifies our deep-rooted biases.
But is it possible that her looks are just one way for her to become more likable and serve no other purpose? Some people suggest that Sophia is nothing but a PR stunt. She has been given a job to market things- attending conferences and appearing on late night television shows across the world.
The head of Facebook AI even went as far as calling it a “BS puppet” and suggesting that Hanson and his team are deceiving the public. Many other people are surprised at the fact that a relatively unknown company could come up with an advanced robot like her while tech giants around the world are still experimenting with humanoid robots and their applications in business.
But there are some arguments in favor of Sophia as well. For instance, she has created widespread interest in robotics and artificial intelligence around the globe. Several people are appalled by her uncanny ability to talk to real humans, even if it comes with a few fumbles. Several more are now looking forward to what AI can do.
Hanson Robotics, on the other hand, are more concerned about bringing Artificial General Intelligence of AGI to Sophia, a feat that has remained unachieved to date. If the robot reaches this level of intelligence and sentience, she could become a historical project for Hanson and his company.