What you need to know about Sophie, a robot with a human face

Rubber faces extending into familiar shapes, driven by tiny engines and a distant version of artificial intelligence – is this the future?

Meet Sophia, a social robot created by former Disney engineer David Hanson. Modeled partly on Audrey Hepburn and wife Hanson, Sophie was built to imitate social behavior and human feelings.

Since its unveiling in 2016, Sophie has achieved fame. She appeared in numerous television programs and gave many interviews.

In the celebration promoting the technology conference, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia even set up the citizenship of Sophie – an ironic move, given the limited rights granted to Saudi women and migrant workers.

David Hanson, creator of Sophia, has always created incredibly realistic devices before the conception of Sophia. His previous job as an engineer at the Disney theme park gave him the ability to create many animatronic heads, like Albert Einstein

Sophia has some facial recognition capabilities and a basic chatbot engine. Watching some of the many television interviews provides clues as to the real possibilities of artificial intelligence beyond the media noise.

For someone experienced in this field, Sophia seems to provide scripts answering questions or working in a simple chatbot mode, in which keywords run language segments, often inadequate. Sometimes there is just silence.

The bone of discord of the AI ​​community is allegedly false claims and misleading implications that Hanson and his main scientist Ben Goertzel regularly communicate to a large audience.

One of the worst examples is Hanson Jimmy Fallon’s statement that “she is basically alive.” On other occasions, she talks about Sophia’s awareness that she is hearing that she is feeling. Of course, this is nonsense.

According to Hanson, Sophia now has the ability to move every major human face muscle, allowing her to generate, among other things, feelings of joy, sadness, curiosity, confusion, contemplation, sadness, or frustration.

“In some of the works we do, he will see your expressions and a kind of match, and will try to understand in his own way what you can feel,” says Hanson.

In addition to deep learning and a programmed set of expressions, Sophia’s face is constructed using the latest developments in materials technology, which means that it seems more soft, more flexible and therefore more realistic. The laboratory also investigates the neurobiology and biology of human facial expressions to help inform how mechanical they can behave.

So far, there is only one Sophia, so the probability of mass dumping of robots is negligible. And even if there are more, we still have to think about the whole concept of the rights of robots, citizenship and how they have to co-exist with a human being without any harm to either side. For now, while Sophia is undoubtedly an “intelligent” robot and a very nice talking piece of technology, she definitely works on the script, and therefore lacks “real” knowledge, as determined by free thinkers. But let’s give Hanson time, and it probably will change – anyway, Sophia was created for further development. However, he has peaceful intentions … but are you sure?