Sophia: A Great Robot (Bio and History)

“What emotion do you feel being awaken alive

Asked one of her creators.

For a second, she squinted and thought. Then she raised her brows and said… “Curious”.

Hanson Robotics Limited, an engineering and robotics company based in Hong Kong and founded by David Hanson, put forward the world’s first one-of-its-kind humanoid robot. Sophia, the great robot, was powered up on February 14 of 2016. From then to this day, the robot has achieved unprecedented success and recognition, along with setting a few records.

Yet, some shocking criticism came along the way for the Artificially Intelligent being.

So, the question arises, is Sophia: a great robot, truly great?

David Hanson and Hanson Robotics Limited:

David Hanson was an Imagineer for Disney. He founded Hanson Robotics Limited back in 2013 in Austin, Texas of the US.

Since then, the company has made revolutionary robots, especially in terms of having expressive facial gestures similar to that of humans.

Albert HUBO, the first walking robot with human-like expressions was a creation of David Hanson, along with Alice, Han, Jules and so many more.

These robots cannot only demonstrate humanoid facial expressions but also express humanoid characters and artificially intelligent traits such as facial recognition, socialization, conversation-making abilities, etc.

Yet, the consciousness of their robots, more accurately, the lack of it, has been quite the topic of criticism./p>

Why You Should Name Your Robot

Now we know about all these robots, let's do a reality check. Imagine hundreds of robots working on the assembly line. How do you identify them? You will need names.

Imagine controlling multiple robots from a single device; you will need more names. Robots are not a whole package. They will need different names when connecting or communicating with other machines.

Those are examples of corporate working robots. Imagine if we get pet or companion robots by 2040? Wouldn't you want to give it a lovely name? Giving a name to these robots would not only make them cool but also personify them.

The Origins of Sophia:

David Hanson and his team created the robot Sophia with software that enables scripting; a chat system; an AI system responsible for general reasoning; and finally, OpenCog, which gives rise to human-like Artificial General Intelligence. It is Hanson Robotics’ most advanced humanoid robot and according to them, personifies their dreams of the future AI.

Sophia, was designed to analyze the human-robot interaction for pioneering robotics and AI research. This interaction could further be used for applications in service and entertainment. David Hanson initially designed Sophia to be a suitable companion to the elderly in elderly nursing homes. However, it is now marketed as a social robot.

The appealing look of the robot was inspired by the 18th dynasty Egyptian queen Nefertiti, the late British actress Audrey Hepburn and Hanson’s wife, Amanda Hanson. Sophia: a great robot can engage people by almost perfectly mimicking the social behaviors of humans.

Sophia, Hanson Robotics’ Dream:

Sophia is currently the ambassador of all things that Hanson Robotics stands for. She has attended over a hundred conferences all over the world, including high-profile interviews and reputed shows like ‘The Tonight Show’ and ‘Good Morning Britain’.

The human-like skin and her ability to express over 60 facial expressions make her so special as a humanoid robot. Additionally, the robot is programmed to continuously learn as she ‘grows’ or as she experiences the world.

The robot can maintain its highly specific social nature by interacting and following the faces of people and maintaining eye contact. The computer algorithms in the camera in Sophia’s eyes enables her to do so.

Sophia became the only robot to have citizenship of any country when she received the citizenship of Saudi Arabia in the October of 2017.

In addition to this, she was the first robot, a non-human, to receive any United Nations title when she was named the first-ever Innovation Champion of the United Nations Development Programme in November of 2017.

Criticisms

In media, Sophia has been often criticized as nothing but a mere ‘puppet’ or ‘a chatbot with a face’, possibly due to an open-source code.

News organizations like ‘Quartz’ and many organizations have made remarks regarding the overhyped popularity of Sophia.

Accusations have often been made towards Hanson for exaggerating his creation and the AI algorithm of the robot.

Bottom Line

The nature of mainstream media is dramatic, both in terms of endearing or demoting Sophia: a great robot.
Yet, it is pretty obvious that she serves as a potential prototype in a long line of highly developed humanoid robots to come in the future.
Will one of her interviews get you hooked to Sophia’s sly and witty comebacks and remarks? The chances are pretty high. So it is up to you decide whether she deserves the reputation or not.