Sophia, world’s first robot citizen, is now being trained to save lives

Sophia, world’s first robot citizen, is now being trained to save lives
Photo Credit: Reuters
24 Jan, 2018

Hong Kong-headquartered Hanson Robotics has said that its social humanoid robot, which last October became the first robot to be granted citizenship of any country, will now help research artificial general intelligence (AGI).

AGI refers to the intelligence of a machine that can successfully perform any intellectual task that a human being can execute.

Sophia, a Saudi Arabian citizen, was first activated on April 19, 2015 and is able to display more than 62 facial expressions.

Dr David Hanson, who created the life-sized Sophia, was quoted by The Economic Times as saying that the humanoid is already being used to help research autism and other diseases.

“We are going to train her in all the skills required for search and rescue operations, and deploy that as a standard platform for service robotics,” Hanson told the newspaper.

He said that the addition of mechanical legs allows the robot to be more agile and perform activities such as climbing stairs.

Hanson said that his startup has already made 14 robots like Sophia till date and has been thinking of scaling up production.

“Autism treatment, medical depression treatment, medical education, insurance education, and customer service application (are our target markets),” Hanson was quoted as saying.

He also believes that Sophia is still evolving.

“The new grasping and gestural arms, combined with a social face, means she can use human tools, walk alongside humans, and learn better,” he said.

Sophia, who had made an appearance at the United Nations recently, has received her fair share of criticism.

Facebook’s AI chief Yann LeCun had called her a puppet.

Hanson had responded to that criticism by saying he had made an earnest effort. “The words are unkind, unfair, and could be considered bullying. Once somebody is in a position of power, they shouldn’t pick on a little startup for taking an alternate approach to AGI,” he said.