Sophia: A Citizen But Still Not Human

Photo+courtesy+of+Hanson+Robotics
Photo courtesy of Hanson Robotics

Photo courtesy of Hanson Robotics

Photo courtesy of Hanson Robotics

Paul Comauex, Features Reporter

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Technology is entering that uncanny valley that resembles the terrifying.

See Sophia.

With the creation of an artificial intelligence robot coming out of Hanson Robotics named Sophia gaining citizenship – the legal rights of human being in Saudi Arabia – the fear of a “Blade Runner” society predicted by a legendary writer leaps closer to becoming our future.

What is it that makes robots so scary when they look like us?

It’s because of the uncanny valley.

The uncanny valley is the idea of things being human-like, or just about human but not. This is the reason that we find things such as clowns scary or anyone wearing a mask for that matter. It’s also the reason certain people think mannequins are terrifying. The way Sophia looks makes me uneasy but, she is an amazing work of science.

Ideas that were once science fiction from the imagination of writers like the late-Philip K. Dick, have become science fact. Driver-less cars. Auto-driven home software like Amazon’s Alexa. Mobile video watches and smartphones.  

Sophia isn’t the only “amazing work of science” to come from Hanson Robotics.

According to BusinessInsider.com Sophia has “siblings.”

In 2005, Hanson Robotics unveiled “HUBO” a robot with the head of Albert Einstein.

In 2006, the company released Jules, a robot designed to look like a human. Jules uses face-tracking and facial recognition to create emotion.

In 2007, Zeno was born. This robot was made to look like Hanson’s son. That totally isn’t creepy, right?

In 2008, Alice came out and Hanson Robotics evolved and started to get human expression down.

All the time, Hanson was working on Philip K. Dick.

Named after the author, Philip K. Dick is an android like Sophia, in the sense that he was invented in 2005 but was remade later.

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Science fiction writer Philip K. Dick include creating the world of the Blade Runner.

And guess what?

This android was modeled after the influential Philip K. Dick. It was more than likely modeled after him because of Philip’s influence in the science fiction genre. Dick is the main guy behind the ideas for stories such as “Blade Runner” and “Total Recall.” According to Hansonrobotics.com, the Philip K. Dick android is like the real Philip K. Dick and has his artificial intelligence set to learn the author’s life history. If he is that advanced, just imagine how advanced Sophia is.

According to theverge.com Hanson Robotics co-creator Ben Goertzel, there is a method to what appears at times to be madness.

“If I tell people I’m using probabilistic logic to do reasoning on how best to prune the backward chaining inference trees that arise in our logic engine, they have no idea what I’m talking about,” Goertzel said. “But if I show them a beautiful smiling robot face, then they get the feeling that AGI [artificial general intelligence] may indeed be nearby and viable.”

Goertzel means that Sophia isn’t saying things and making things happen on her own. The way she was programmed makes her able to reply to things or certain situations based on what the scientists programmed her to believe how a human would reply. This meaning she isn’t free thinking. She can only think within the parameters in which she was designed to think.

That’s where the error in our perception of Sophia occurs. People think of Sophia as having artificial general intelligence. She doesn’t. Artificial general intelligence would mean Sophia could think for herself. She’d be able to come up with thoughts that are original. She’d be a regular citizen of Saudi Arabia. She wouldn’t have to mimic emotions because she’d feel them. She wouldn’t have to mimic expressions; she’d make them.

Technology is on a constant rise. Thankfully, some work still has a way to go to becoming human.   

Watch below to see how close Hanson Robotics scientists have come to making AI human.

 

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