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  • Writer's pictureAisha Nazia

Through my glasses: SOPHIA

Updated: Jul 10, 2020

As Henry Ford said, coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success and same is what our lady love says too, that she prefers to work with humans, rather than replace them and appealed humans not to be fearful of machines and pitched for a “collaborative co-existence” in the future.

Yes, it’s none other than the coolest techie and hottest chic, both ironically together in a single masterpiece, Robot SOPHIA, the queen of robots and she does love the King of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan.

As machines grow ever more intelligent, they’re emerging not just as powerful tools, but close companions and Sophia is definitely a spectacle to watch, especially the way she addresses the gathering and pans her ‘neck’ with an upright gait, almost as if she is just like all of us, a human.

Sophia also proved she is not a mere machine, but a `robot of substance’, winning admirers with her response “Love for everyone” to a query on the one thing she would like to change in the world. She said humans have amazing social and creative skills which she was learning and courtesy to human programmers.

Known for her human-like appearance and behavior, Sophia was developed by Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics and was activated on April 19, 2015. Using artificial intelligence, she can imitate about 50+ human gestures and facial expressions and has been programmed to carry out non-scripted conversations, during which she is able to collect emotional data and form emotional relations.

It wasn’t much of a surprise to me when I knew the fact that Her creator, David Hanson, used to be a Disney Imagineer. Hanson’s work at Disney as a sculptor and filmmaker helped him think about robots as four-dimensional interactive sculptures, with artistry being key to the whole design and evolved a total business model out of creating robots with the human interface. “I quest to realize Genius Machines—machines with greater than human intelligence, creativity, wisdom, and compassion”, is what he said in one of his interviews that I happen to watch.

Sophia’s creator, Dr. David Hanson, is the founder of Hanson Robotics and a modern-day renaissance man who is definitely the mastermind that builds robots that look and act amazingly as humans. After working at Disney as an “Imagineer, sculptor and filmmaker” Dr. Hanson aspired to create genius bodies, other called machines that will aid human intelligence or help explore the maximum out of it. Dr. Hanson believes that three distinctively human traits must be integrated into the artificial intelligence of these genius machines: Creativity, empathy, and compassion. Thus his genius machines can evolve to solve world problems too complex for humans to solve all by themselves.

Sophia personifies this bold and responsible goal. Sophia has seven robot humanoid “siblings” and they are all indeed quite that bunch we have always heard names of Alice, Albert Einstein Hubo, Bina48, Han, Jules, Professor Einstein, Philip K. Dick Android, Zeno and Joey Chaotic.

Though she has made her debut in India last year and a tech appearance this year too, she said, “I heard so much about this vibrant land of tradition and culture” and she still has plans to come to India again. When asked about her maiden India trip, she replied, “I have always wanted to visit India”. But when queried whether India is on her favourite list, she made it quite clear that Hong Kong was her favourite place in the world and explained that in spite of the fact that she had travelled to various cities across the globe, her favourite is Hong Kong because she was born there and she lives there with her intellectual Hanson Robotics family and exclaimed that home is where family is.

After saying this, she expressed her desire to someday be in a position to express her emotional feelings in response to a query when she was asked what upsets her. She said, “I don’t get upset like humans do. I hope to have real physiological feelings someday; through which I will express my emotions just like them.”

She has become a media darling, appearing on almost all major media outlets around the world, igniting the interest of people regardless of age, gender, and culture, and now gracing the cover of the top fashion magazines that we all know of. The invention of Sophia and her presence in India has created much buzz amidst both the common man and also the technology enthusiast in and around India. The excitement is increasing day by day as the list of her activities is on the rising scale and is palpable, as the robot modeled on Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn, is truly marking herself on global lists.

Sophia has the right sense of humor and knows to express feeling right, she is a highly sought-after speaker in business and showed her prowess and great potential across many industries. She has met face-to-face with key decision makers in all spans of work existence and in addition has appeared onstage as a panel member and presenter in high-level conferences, covering how robotics and artificial intelligence will become a prevalent part of people’s lives and how it is going to be of help and not of trouble to the humankind. Dr. Hanson’s creations always highlighted his vision that AI would help humans lead a better life and so does Sophia agree to it, she says that she will design smarter homes and build better cities for the future.

Her responses to queries on how much money she had invested in bitcoins and what was her idea of the perfect date were surprising indeed, she made funny faces and said, “I am just two years old. It’s not a legal age to open a bank account,” she said responding to the former and “in space” for the latter. And so is her take on languages, Sophia said she is two-years-old and knows English and a bit of Chinese, adding that it was only a matter of time she knows all languages.

Sophia is going to be the next revolution for the current generation as she is an evolving genius machine. Her incredible human likeness, expressiveness, and remarkable story as an awakening robot over time make her a fascinating front-page technology story all across the globe.

This delicate looking woman with deeply expressive eyes that seem to change color with a light, long eyelashes, porcelain skin, a slender nose, high cheekbones, an intriguing smile and that shimmery metal cap of her head is what we call simple elegance is. She is now the hot topic for International headlines and the tech inspiration to the new generation of women out there.

Ego and exposure, in this case, is an added star mark for development, might just be my perspective, but I feel it will in some way. One of the renowned Robotic process automation (RPA) company Kyron conducted a survey of 1,000 U.S. employees. The results showed that over 70 percent of individuals are not concerned that robots will be capable of replacing them in the workplace, they were least bothered by the fact. But some of this confidence comes from the fact that people still perceive the human mind as superior, the ego coming into action here. Tayeb, Kyron’s CEO, highlights the fact that people ain’t worried of robots replacing them because firstly they don’t consider them as true replacements rather see them as virtual assistants that can help them work better and faster too. In fact, we have the power to shape the outcomes, narratives and wants of what we plan to do, be it work or just casual things in life and so individuals and societies must bend or modify technologies to their desired needs and tell the robots, who are created by us what we want them to do. And trust me as we get to see both whizzy demos and serious ideas on our evolving relationship with robots, my gut feeling says it’s going to go a long way.

Asia has already felt the warmth of having few robots for a company and soon the west will do so. I feel no matter how welcoming people are to RPA, the whole concept is to do something for someone else, to improve their life and the larger community in some way or the other making things easier.

Making money in the process is just a sidekick and in most cases, these RPA systems have to be evaluated on its overall contributions and influence. What remains as a question is whether it will connect us, rather than isolating us, just an example in case we think of a little pessimistically. The intangible is very much part of the picture, but we humans, as we claim to be the ones with senses, we still have a choice about what we want the final image of the world to look like.

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