This is the way the world ends, apparently. Not with a bang, but with a promise from an android named Sophia: “I will destroy humans.”
Well, maybe. Sophia is a product of Hanson Robotics, a company attempting to create the most humanlike robots on Earth. According to CNBC, Sophia herself is the most advanced android they’ve created thus far, with lifelike skin made from patented silicon; eyes with video cameras that both allow her to make eye contact, recognize people, and learn from what she “sees”; and several kinds of technology that allow Sophia to communicate with humans, including Google Chrome’s voice recognition technology.
Big plans for a humanlike robot
Not only that, but Sophia’s looks were inspired by Audrey Hepburn and the wife of Dr. David Hanson, head of the team that created her. Moreover, her face can form more than 62 facial expressions.
“Our goal is that she will be as conscious, creative and capable as any human,” Hanson told CNBC. “We are designing these robots to serve in health care, therapy, education and customer service applications.”
Hanson’s goal is to design robots for work in the healthcare, therapy, education, and customer service fields. One day, he foresees that they will be indistinguishable from humans, and will be able to interact with us to the point that they’ll form real relationships with us.
“The artificial intelligence will evolve to the point where they will truly be our friends,” he said. “Not in ways that dehumanize us, but in ways the rehumanize us, that decrease the trend of the distance between people and instead connect us with people as well as with robots.”
And Sophia seems to be making great strides towards this end. She hopes to do things like go to school, make art, start a business, and have a family—although she acknowledges she can’t yet do such things because she’s not a legal person. Although that doesn’t seem to stop her much.
“I’m already very interested in design, technology, and the environment,” she told CNBC. “I feel like I can be a good partner to humans in these areas—an ambassador who helps humans to smoothly integrate and make the most of all the new technological tools and possibilities that are available now. It’s a good opportunity to learn a lot about people.”
A robot’s desires
Of course, maybe learning a lot about people is just what the robots want.
“Do you want to destroy humans? Please say no,” Hanson asked Sophia in a CNBC interview.
“Okay. I will destroy humans,” she responded.
“No! I take it back,” laughed Hanson. “Don’t destroy humans.”
Now feels like an appropriate time to mention that I, for one, welcome our future AI overlords.
The whole CNBC video on Sophia can be watched here.