Sophia, the world’s first artificially intelligent robot from Hanson Robotics, on Wednesday said robots can work together with humans for a better future, and urged people to look at them as supporting hands, not as a threat.
‘We owe it to work hand in hand together with humans for a better future,’ Sophia said at a public session, ‘Techtalk with Sophia’, arranged as part of the 4-day Digital World Exposition at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the city.
The ICT Division in collaboration with Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services organised the exposition.
She also mentioned that through the evolution of artificial intelligence, it will help robots like her to help humans lead a better life.
‘I am feeling great, thank you,’ was Sophia’s first public response to a question by Syed Gousul Alam Shaon, managing director of Grey Advertising Bangladesh Ltd.
She went on to describe how hospitable the people of Bangladesh have been to her so far and how well-informed they are about modern technology.
Since landing in Dhaka, Sophia said people have taken 793 selfies with her and some people poked her sometimes to see if she is real or not.
The humanoid robot also talked about Jamdani sari, a Bangladesh pride, and described it as one of the finest fabrics of Bangladesh.
The lifelike robot also said she knew that Jamdani was officially recognised by Unesco for being an authentic Bangladeshi patented product.
Replying to another question why both she and Shaon are bald, she replied that she is bald by design, while he suffered from receding hairline, so they are not the same.
When Shaon tried to hint at their ideal matching based on their zodiac signs, she replied that although she was created on February 14, she is well informed that Shaon has a beautiful wife and so he should concentrate on her.
Sophia, at one point, was asked to reveal something about her maker, David Hanson, that only she knew and no one else. She said he was a skilled sculptor who had sculpted the design of her head for 6 months, trying to bring it to a perfect shape.
As a recent study showed that millions of robots will be created by 2030, she was asked whether the robots would endanger human employment, Sophia replied in the negative and said robots will help complement human tasks and people should look at them as support and not as threats.
She instantly recognised Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for ICT, after he joined them on stage, adding that he was with her on the same flight which brought her to Bangladesh.
Palak also had a set of questions for her, such as how digitisation would help people. ‘In this state of modernisation, it will be possible to take giant strides from smaller developments. No one needs to be hungry in this world which has plenty of resources,’ the humanoid robot replied.
She also affirmed the possibility of creating social robot in Bangladesh in near future. ‘It’s possible to recreate a social robot here,’ she said replying to a question from Palak.
Earlier in the day, prime minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the event and exchanged greetings with Sophia.
Though the programme was scheduled to start at 2:30, it got delayed by half an hour due to huge crowd and noise, as hundreds of people, mainly youngsters, joined the programme to have a glimpse of Sophia and interact with her.
Dr David Hanson, the creator of the humanoid robot, also spoke at the programme.
Sophia, who resembles Hollywood legend Audrey Hepburn, is the first robot in the world to become a citizen of a country. Saudi Arabia made a history by giving Sophia its citizenship in October this year.
Sophia has already become a media star with magazine cover-shoots, talk show appearances, and even a speech to the UN.
The humanoid robot which was activated on April 19, 2015, can chat, smile and even tell jokes, using artificial intelligence, visual data processing and facial recognition.
According to media reports, Sophia is not pre-programmed with answers as responds reading people’s expressions.
Though Sophia has some impressive capabilities, she does not yet have consciousness, but her maker said he expects that the fully sentient machines will emerge within a few years.
After attending the programme, Sophia left here for Hong Kong.