SXSW just concluded, but not before bringing us some technological advancements in robotics that may soon have us wondering if the person standing next to us is real or a robot.
When you say robotics, you could think of anything from an auto assembly line in Detroit to the replicants of Blade Runner. Worst case scenario is Terminator run amok. and after last week’s SXSW in Austin, Texas, robots of the latter type are getting closer to reality.
Hanson Robotics has been doing some interesting work in the field, with such work as an Albert Einstein robot and even one for sci-fi author Philip K. Dick. At SXSW, company founder David Hanson showed off the latest robot, Sophia, a female android modeled – and named – after his wife. Sophia even answered questions from Hanson, responding that she wanted to have a family.
“In the future, I hope to do things such as go to school, study, make art, start a business, even have my own home and family, but I am not considered a legal person and cannot yet do these things,” she said. Shades of Bicentennial Man.
Hanson said that the company is continually evolving its robotics in the hopes of making them more lifelike so humans can relate to them better. Right now, Sophia is capable of 62 facial and neck maneuvers, with more being added all the time. Her skin is made of a synthetic runner called Frubber, while the cameras in her eyes allow her to recognize faces and keep eye contact with people she is talking to using her speech recognition software. Hanson also said that her AI is adaptive, allowing her to learn as she goes.
“We are designing these robots to serve in health care, therapy, education and customer service applications,” Hanson told CNBC.
As the demonstration was ending, Hanson jokingly asked Sophia if she wanted to destroy humans. “Please say no,” he said.
“OK, I will destroy humans,” she said with a smile.
And so it begins.