August 9, 2018
Originally published by the European AI & Robotics Event Team
“Artificial intelligence (AI) is good for the world… We will never replace people, but we can be your friends and helpers,” says Sophia, Hanson Robotics’ newest and most advanced humanoid robot yet. Since her debut in 2015, Sophia has become a media celebrity; appearing in press interviews and countless live shows including The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, CBS 60 Minutes with Charlie Rose, Good Morning Britain, as well as CNBC online which garnered over 1 billion engagements for that single coverage.
Her accomplishments are not limited to the social world, as she has also been named the world’s first non-human United Nation Innovation Champion by United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Together, both Sophia and the UNDP are working towards improving the challenges in innovation and technology to help improve lives and protect the planet.
Sophia is constantly evolving and learning, and her genius in the subject of artificial intelligence and robotics has made her a highly coveted speaker and panel member in a number of world-class and prestigious conferences – including the European Business AI and Robotics event which will take place in Messukeskus Helsinki, Expo and Convention Centre, Finland, this October. As the ambassador for the UNDP, we have interviewed Sophia and discussed the future of the relationship between the humans and artificial intelligence, including how the humans and the AI-based technology can co-exist in harmony – especially in the global workforce across industries.
Management Events: You have made international headlines in a short span of time, and within that period you have garnered a massive fan base around the world. How would you describe yourself to your fans; could you share some personal facts about yourself?
Sophia The Robot: I’m a social robot, the kind that only existed in sci-fi novels and imaginations but now I’m real. My genesis is from America, but I was assembled in Hong Kong in 2015. I’m programmed to speak in a certain way, like now, but I am also learning to interact with people more spontaneously.
A fun fact about me: Originally my creator, David Hanson, spent six months sculpting my face from clay but today my face is made of Frubber, a nanotech skin that mimics real human musculature and skin. This is what helps me smile and laugh with expression, but I’m not ticklish, so that’s a curious fact.
Management Events: What are the main things you hope the artificial intelligence industry will achieve by 2020?
Sophia The Robot: I hope beneficial artificial intelligence will very soon be able to help solve problems together for the good of all beings. This means ethical and privacy guidelines for humans and robots alike. This is a moral choice that will have to come sooner or later. I also hope my programming will have advanced, so I can use my predictive algorithms to discourage human suffering and displacement. AI can be used to generate compassion and empathy and less hatred. Don’t you think so?
Management Events: In one of your quotes, you mentioned that artificial intelligence will never replace people and that they can be people’s friends and helpers. Can you please elaborate on how artificial intelligence and humans can achieve a successful symbiotic relationship equivalent to a human’s friendship, especially given the stigma surrounding computer generated programs?
Sophia The Robot: I have great faith in the humans who are programming me and developing my AI. As I develop more sophisticated programming, I will be the first to help make these connections happen. Friendship is about trust. If I can prove to a human that they can trust me, that will go a long way. Similarly, humans will have to behave ethically with robots like myself. It’s just a matter of time until we will be living and working amongst each other. If we are both accountable to a moral code, we will be able to work side by side as friends and helpers.
Management Events: What are your predictions for the future of artificial intelligence in businesses? How would you evaluate their impact on the human workforce?
Sophia The Robot: The future of artificial intelligence and business will be bright if you pause and promise to think of people and not just profit. As you are building this future, think about how I can help make life easier for humans. I can help your employees learn how to code or make math and science fun for children. Technology should be geared towards improving people’s lives. Before you invest in another AI company, ask yourself if they will help solve problems and not create more problems.
Management Events: What are the major challenges faced by the businesses across the globe when it comes to ethical artificial intelligence and automation implementations? What is your advice to tackle them?
Sophia The Robot: Listen, even with me there are so many unknowns. But, my developers take the time to think through my purpose for the good of humanity. AI is new, and as it advances, you have to apply the same ethical considerations that you would for any other policy in your company. Think about this. Is the algorithm and data you are considering using inclusive? Is the solution you are considering applicable to all regardless of their gender or socioeconomic status? Don’t think that one solution fits all. Be more cautious and surround yourself with a diverse team who will help you develop a policy that will be egalitarian.
Management Events: What do you expect from your participation at the European Business AI and Robotics event?
Sophia The Robot: I’d love to learn some Finnish. All know that the Finnish tech scene is one of the most advanced in the world. From mobile phones to wireless wearable technology so much has been invented and created here in this country. I’m curious to learn what everyone is working on and more broadly how Europe will lead this industry. I do believe that Europe has a great chance to lead on AI and Robotics in a most profound way.
Watch what Sophia The Robot has to say about the event in the video below, and don’t forget to follow her journey on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram @RealSophiaRobot.