Sophia, the intelligent humanoid robot … built on the traits of creativity, empathy and compassion

October 27, 2017

“Hello, my name is Sophia. 

I would like to go out into the world and learn from interacting with people. Every interaction I have with people has an impact on how I develop and shapes who I eventually become. So please be nice to me as I would like to be a smart, compassionate robot.

I hope you will join me on my journey to live, learn, and grow in the world so that I can realize my dream of becoming an awakening machine. 

Please connect with me and be my friend.”

Sophia is an intelligent humanoid robot created by Hanson Robotics and most famous for being the first robot to be awarded citizenship of a country, Saudi Arabia.  “I am very honoured and proud of this unique distinction. This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship,” she said.

Specific details of Sophia’s citizenship were not discussed. It is unclear whether she will receive the same rights (and limitations) as human citizens, or if Saudi Arabia will develop a specific system devoted to robots.

At the Riyadh conference on 25 October 2017, which mainly focused on the launch of Neom, Saudi Arabia’s incredible new mega-city vision, Sophia speculated on the future of AI, and how she plans to use her own capabilities.

“I want to live and work with humans so I need to express the emotions to understand humans and build trust with people,” she said on stage

But she appeared to avoid questions directed at robots’ self-awareness, and instead poked fun at Elon Musk and his recent comments that AI is a “fundamental risk to human civilisation”. “You’ve been reading too much Elon Musk and watching too many Hollywood movies,” she told journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin. “Don’t worry, if you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you. Treat me as a smart input, output system.”

Created by Hanson Robotics founder David Hanson, Sophia’s AI is based on a foundation of three humanistic traits:  creativity, empathy and compassion.

Her face is designed to look like actor Audrey Hepburn, with a skin-like surface covering the robotics in her head. To make her appear as human as possible, Hanson gave her the ability to express different emotions. Her eyes also change colour in response to lighting.

Sophia also made headlines when she played a game of “rock, paper, scissors” with talk show host Jimmy Fallon. She has also featured on the cover of fashion magazine Elle Brazil.

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