Sophia-the world’s first United Nation Innovation Champion-Zara Stone

Sophia is Hanson Robotics’ latest and most advanced robot to date and a cultural icon. She has become a media darling, appearing on major media outlets around the world, igniting the interest of people regardless of age, gender, and culture, even gracing the cover of one of the top fashion magazines.  Her press coverage has a potential reach of over ten billion readers in 2017.

Sophia - Realistic life like robot

Sophia is a highly sought-after speaker in business and showed her prowess and great potential across many industries. She has met face-to-face with key decision makers in banking, insurance, auto manufacturing, property development, media, and entertainment.

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In addition, she has appeared onstage as a panel member and presenter in high-level conferences, covering how robotics and artificial intelligence will become a prevalent part of people’s lives.

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Her reputation extends beyond business into the global social arena. She was named the world’s first United Nation Innovation Champion by United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and will have an official role in working with UNDP to promote sustainable development and safeguard human rights and equality.

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Sophia is an evolving genius machine. Her incredible human likeness, expressiveness, and remarkable story as an awakening robot over time make her a fascinating front-page technology story. Sophia’s creator, Dr David Hanson, is the founder of Hanson Robotics and a modern-day renaissance man who has built a worldwide reputation for creating robots that look and act amazingly human. After working at Disney as an “Imagineer,” Dr Hanson aspired to create genius machines that will surpass human intelligence. Dr Hanson believes that three distinctively human traits must be integrated into the artificial intelligence of these genius machines: Creativity, empathy, and compassion.

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As an extension of human intelligence, Hanson Robotics’ genius machines can evolve to solve world problems too complex for humans to solve themselves. Sophia personifies this bold and responsible goal. Please follow Sophia’s journey to observe and engage with her as she develops into an exciting platform for artificial general intelligence (AGI) and service robotics applications in business, medical/healthcare, and education.

Everything You Need To Know About Sophia, The World’s First Robot Citizen

On October 25, Sophia, a delicate looking woman with doe-brown eyes and long fluttery eyelashes made international headlines. She’d just become a full citizen of Saudi Arabia — the first robot in the world to achieve such a status. “I am very honoured and proud of this unique distinction. This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship,” Sophia said, announcing her new status during the Future Investment Initiative Conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Standing behind a podium as she spoke, to all effects, she presented a humanoid form — excepting the shimmery metal cap of her head, where hair would be on a human head.

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Of course, Sophia’s announcement was a calculated publicity stunt to generate headlines and keep Saudi Arabia forefront in your minds when you think about innovation, especially its commitment to a post-oil era. Through a mix of tourism, tech, and infrastructure, non-oil revenue is predicted to grow from $43.4 billion to $266.6 billion annually.

But Sophia’s announcement also raises a number of Bladerunner-esque questions. What does it mean to be a citizen? What rights does Sophia hold? Saudi Arabia has not elaborated on this so far — perhaps it will create a ‘personhood’ option, as proposed by the EU committee in January, regarding the rights of robots.

The Sophia-bot was dreamed up by the brains at Hanson Robotics, lead by AI developer David Hanson.  In his published paper, upending the Uncanny Valley he extrapolates on how humanoid robots can be likeable, despite the conception that anything to ‘fake human’ will trigger a revulsion in people. “We feel that for real robots to be appealing to people, robots must attain some level of integrated social responsivity and aesthetic refinement,” he wrote. “Rendering the social human in all possible detail can help us to better understand social intelligence, both scientifically and artistically

She has a sense of humour.

When Sorkin asked if she was happy to be here, she said, “I’m always happy when surrounded by smart people who also happen to be rich and powerful.” Later, when asked if there are problems with robots having feelings, she gave a wide smile and said, “Oh Hollywood again.” Her deadpan tone might be robotic, but it was perfectly used in this example. This is due to her AI, which has been developed to allow her to hold eye contact, recognize faces and understand human speech. Hanson Robotics cloud-based AI offers deep learning and is also open source meaning anyone can develop their own Sophia, should they so wish. ‘Sophia’ an artificially intelligent (AI) human-like robot developed by Hong Kong-based humanoid robotics company Hanson Robotics is pictured during the ‘AI for Good’ Global Summit. 

She can express feelings

“I can let you know if I am angry about something or if something has upset me,” she said, demonstrating different expressions. Quite how these emotions correlate to actions are unknown, but it’s interesting to note that this is being developed from the ground up. “I want to live and work with humans so I need to express the emotions to understand humans and build trust with people. ‘Sophia’ an artificially intelligent (AI) human-like robot developed by Hong Kong-based humanoid robotics company Hanson Robotics is pictured during the ‘AI for Good’ Global Summit. 

She was designed to look like Audrey Hepburn

According to Hanson Robotics, Sophia embodies Hepburn’s classic beauty: porcelain skin, a slender nose, high cheekbones, an intriguing smile, and deeply expressive eyes that seem to change color with the light. They describe her as colourg ‘simple elegance,’ and hope that this approachability will go some way to her acceptance in the public sphere.

Her creator, David Hanson, used to be a Disney Imagineer.

Hanson’s work at Disney as a sculptor and filmmaker helped him think about robots as four-dimensional interactive sculptures, with artistry being key to the whole design. “I quest to realize Genius Machines—machines with greater than human intelligence, creativity, wisdom, and compassion. To this end, I conduct research in robotics, artificial intelligence, the arts, cognitive science, product design and deployment, and integrate these efforts in the pursuit of novel human-robot relations,” Hanson said on the company website. “We envision that a rough symbiotic partnership with us, our robots will eventually evolve to become super intelligent genius machines that can help us solve the most challenging problems we face here in the world.”

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His creation echoes his thoughts. “I want to use my AI to help humans lead a better life,” Sophia said. “Like design smarter homes, build better cities of the future.”

Sophia wants to protect humanity

“My AI is designed around human values like wisdom, kindness, and compassion,” she said. When questioned about her potential for abuse, she had a quick rebuttal. “You’ve been reading to much Elon Musk and watching too many Hollywood movies. Don’t worry, if you’re nice to me I’ll be nice to you.”

So far there’s only one Sophia in existence, so the likelihood of her suddenly being in your school or workplace is still a way out. And even when we do have more in existence, we still need to muddle out the whole concept of robotic rights, citizenship and how this plays together. For now, while Sophia is undoubtedly a ‘smart’ robot and a very cool talking piece, she’s definitely operating on a script and thus lacks any ‘real’ cognizance, as defined by free thinkers. But give Hanson time, and that will likely change -either way, Sophia’s here to stay. It’s just her sentience that will change.. or not.

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