This is the next of a series of interview posts introducing our amazing Hanson Robotics’ team members to the rest of the world. You know us through our social and research robots — Sophia, Han, Little Sophia, Zeno, Professor Einstein, BINA48 and the list goes on. But the talented people behind the scenes are the ones who make the Hanson Robotics’ magic happen, day in and day out. It’s a very special group of people from around the world, all contributing through their own unique expertise who “bring our robots to life!”
Introducing Mario Guzman, Robot Operator, Hong Kong
What was the moment you knew you’d made the right decision to work here?
Well, there is, of course, no single moment. I think there is always something that reminds you how amazing is to be part of this project: People spending hours perfecting the look of an eyebrow to make it look more expressive, hallway discussions about perception systems and motion design, meetings that derail into AI ethics, and so forth.
As a Robot Operator, I have the opportunity to travel to different countries and work in situations that range from collaborating with universities developing research on human-robot interaction and social robotics, to filming tv series alongside Westworld actors or participating with Sophia in an all women tech panel in Rwanda.
This last one was really fascinating because it focused, not only on achievements but also on how they managed to reach their respective positions. More importantly, they share ideas about what they changed or tried to change, and the perceptions in their workplace.
What was your best day at work?
I love to be in contact with different cultural perspectives, and this job is a constant source of encounters with new people. I especially love when we attend meetings where representatives of several countries talk about what they are expecting the future to look like in 5 or 10 years. It has been very illuminating to witness those presentations and also the evolution of the goals and methods they use to achieve their objectives.
Estonia is an excellent example of how to build a digital system that serves its citizens while extending the same services to other people around the world. The presentation was actually fascinating. Basically, the country has portrayed how difficult it is to live in Estonia, with a very dark and sad video of a crow flying through a snowy field. So, they focused on going digital to bring people closer and breach some of their obstacles.
What’s something that happened that can only happen here?
Well, there is always something unique happening at Hanson Robotics. I’ve had the opportunity to ride in a helicopter, be part of an NYC fashion runway show, help with filming a new TV series, commercials, met incredible scientists, actors, and government officials. I’ve overheard amazing conversations from people trying to shape economics, politics, markets, art, and social sciences. The list goes on and on. I was even in a movie-like car chase in Azerbaijan after Sophia got locked in the car and the driver had to break the window and speed away to a media interview while broken pieces of glass were propelling toward us in the backseat!
What are you most proud of?
Moving from culture to culture to facilitate engagement with artificial forms of existence can be challenging and exciting. I feel really proud and humbled of being able to be molded by these experiences. I think that being the translator/facilitator between artificial and natural forms of behavior is now a new kind of job, but soon it will become more common. I am also really proud of the people working in this company. It is not a surprise to say that trying to combine so many different technologies and pursue such an ambitious project is really a significant accomplishment by itself.
Also, I think that the road to achieving this goal is as important. For example, I know that Betelhem Dessie, a 19-year-old girl from Ethiopia that is leading “Solve IT” a program for young people to find technological solutions to community-based problems, is now using some of our robots to inspire girls to get involved in the tech industry. I can imagine there are a lot of projects like this, and I found them very inspiring.
The Hanson Robotics Team
Photo and Video Credits: Hanson Robotics Limited