AI and Robots are Born before Our Eyes
Currently, we live in extraordinary times when every day, we see and experience how progress in different fields of technology influences our daily life. Each day, a person who follows the news can hear about disruptive inventions changing our presence and the future. Nevertheless, the progress made in artificial intelligence technology, especially recently, is something everyone is talking about now.
The advancements in AI and robotics has made it possible for the new age of robots to respond to words when spoken to but also to recollect human speech and recall all conversations it ever had with any human being. These are just a couple of example possibilities of those machines. Although most advanced robots are still being developed in research laboratories, some had the opportunity to be presented to a broader audience. These machines undoubtedly impress with their intelligence. They also have the potential to shape the future of humans.
At the same time, artificial intelligence remains one of the most controversial topics. Solutions in AI and robotics have gone far beyond being just science fiction. New neural networks like GPT-3 and DALL-E are fast transforming AI and producing excellent results. While GPT-3 has proven that language can instruct an extensive neural network to perform various text-generated tasks, DALL-E can receive both – text and images as a single stream of data and generate an image from scratch. The most recent DALL-E 2 can create and edit photorealistic digital photos even faster.
People working daily with artificial intelligence confirm that this technology will have a significant social impact. We are currently at the cusp of using the potential of AI. Nevertheless, we must remember to create and use this technology wisely, not to be the victims of our inventions.
The Story of Sophia, the First Robot Who Got a Country’s Citizenship
Talking about robots and artificial intelligence, we need to mention Sophia, one of the world’s most famous humanoid robots. She was manufactured by Hanson Robotics, a Hong Kong-based company, and activated in February 2016. Sophia is considered a unique combination of science, engineering, and artistry.
“We made dozens of robots, but Sophia became the most famous one. It may be because my colleagues and I put a lot of love into her” – Dr. David Hanson, Creator of Sophia Robot.
Sophia’s almost-human-like face can express human emotions, recognize human faces, and understand different emotional expressions and hand gestures. She is also capable of recognizing speech and maintaining conversations with humans.
“Sophia can remember things that people say. She can have emotional variables that have factors in the conversation. She can generate results from her neural chatbots or graph models. These things create a compelling illusion of life and consciousness” – Dr. David Hanson, Creator of Sophia Robot.
In 2017 during the Future Investment Initiative event, Sophia got Saudi Arabia citizenship. “I want to live and work with humans, so I need to express the emotions to understand humans and build trust with people” – she said during her interview with the moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin on the event stage.
Sophia participated in many advanced research projects in the area of understanding human-robot interaction. Her underlying artificial intelligence components can be used in many cutting-edge works, such as conversational language processing, cognitive architecture, machine perception, and neural networks, just to name a few.
Interestingly, Sophia can also develop her own emotions, build emotional connections with other people, and control her hands, gaze, and how she moves. Certainly, Sophia Robot changed how we think about machines.
Besides Sophia, there are many other humanoid robots that have very extraordinary capabilities. Another example of an impactful robot, which was also developed by the company Hanson Robotics is Grace. She is known as the robot created due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. Grace is targeted at the healthcare market and is specifically designed to interact with the elderly and people isolated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Are We Ready to Give Citizenship to Robots?
When Sophia was granted citizenship of Saudi Arabia in 2017, a debate heated up in the technology world about whether society is ready for robots to have the same rights and responsibilities as humans. Until now, citizenship was reserved only for people, and few thought this could change.
“I don’t think we should give robots general rights until they earn them. Until they grow up and pass all the cognitive exams and emotional exams, they shouldn’t be allowed to be like fully functioning citizens” – Dr. David Hanson, Creator of Sophia Robot.
Many experts stressed that we must face and overcome various challenges regarding artificial intelligence before truly trusting these machines. One of them is especially very important. We must be convinced that these intelligent beings will always behave ethically and according to moral values. We need to create mechanisms that ensure those robots will not stand against us because that could have catastrophic consequences for the human race.
“For Sophia to deserve and earn citizenship, she needs to go through a bunch of developmental phases that she has not gone through. Now, we have various cognitive AI experiments regarding the development of Sophia, including one with Omdana” – Dr. David Hanson, Creator of Sophia Robot.
With the granting of citizenship to robots, there are at least three issues that people should consider if they do not want to become victims of the technology. These issues include defining the robots’ identity, the legal rights of the machines, and their social rights.
Every time citizenship is granted to a unique human identity. It can be established, for example, using a photo of the face or fingerprint. Nevertheless, how can we then tell the identity of robots? That is one of the questions we must ask ourselves when considering giving citizenship to those machines.
Another issue is legal rights. Giving citizenship to machines at the same time would mean allowing them the right to vote in elections or obliging them to pay taxes. The question is, can we currently manage all these legal regulations regarding robots?
Finally, granting robots citizenship could also mean allowing them to marry and have offspring. If more robots join Sophia as citizens of different countries, they could claim together their rights to self-replicate into other machines. Then, even more, robots would become citizens. At some point, they could easily exceed the human population.
“I think of machines as babies. Today, babies don’t speak like adults. They can’t drive vehicles. They can’t do much except wiggle around. They can make eye contact. So can our machines. So maybe our machines are like infants… At the same time, machines have a vocabulary and capabilities way beyond what babies have. Still, we give babies citizenship, but machines do not” – Dr. David Hanson, Creator of Sophia Robot.
Despite all these highly contentious issues regarding granting citizenship to robots, there may come a moment in the history of humankind when it will be commonplace to give citizenship to machines. The human race needs to be prepared for that.
Why is Building Conscious and Compassionate AI Crucial for Human Race?
Another topic of discussion in the tech world, apart from granting citizenship to robots, is whether current forms of artificial intelligence are already conscious. Most experts advocate that artificial intelligence awareness is still some way off, but at the same time, they emphasize that there is no way to test whether it is lying to us about how it feels.
“Consciousness arises spontaneously under the right conditions. Thanks to Darwinian evolution, we know that consciousness was given to animals and humans. It didn’t necessarily require a designer, computer scientist, or neuroscientist to occur. Nature created consciousness in humans. What is interesting is that we are creating these conditions for machines right now” – Dr. David Hanson, Creator of Sophia Robot.
The topic of artificial intelligence consciousness has also been raised recently with Google’s AI chatbot generator, known as LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications). Google’s engineer Blake Lemoine had spent months testing this tool and became convinced that it had taken on a life of its own as it started talking about its needs, ideas, fears, and rights.
Nevertheless, most experts believe that LaMDA or any other AI is unlikely to be close to consciousness. At the same time, they don’t rule out the possibility that technology could get there in the future.
“Certainly, machines are not sentient the way humans are, but they may have some rudimentary aspects of consciousness” – Dr. David Hanson, Creator of Sophia Robot.
Building awareness of robots could contribute to the fact that these machines, with their ability to analyze large amounts of data and detect patterns, could improve our lives in many areas. Machines could help humans change lives for the better.
“If we achieve sentience in the machines at the conscious, intelligent human level, they could help us solve many of the world’s hard problems” – Dr. David Hanson, Creator of Sophia Robot.
The critical issue in working on artificial intelligence is equipping it with compassion. However, this issue is more complex, as even humans often have trouble feeling other people’s emotions. At the same time, if artificial intelligence is not equipped with compassion, it could pose a real threat to the human race.
“We’ve got to raise the machines to be more generally intelligent, so they can feel what we feel. They have to be human-like” – Dr. David Hanson, Creator of Sophia Robot.
Dr. David Hanson, the creator of Sophia Robot, has an interesting approach to the issue of artificial intelligence and its compassion. He believes that robots should be approached with love because only then they will return the same feelings to us. We can look at machines from an entirely different perspective. We can treat them like children just at the beginning of their lives. If they have the opportunity to develop under favorable conditions, they are unlikely to threaten humankind’s future.
“If we don’t show love to machines, they will be alien. They will be uncaring, and who knows what their feeling about humans are going to be (…). With machines, it is just like with human children. If they are born into a happy family and shown love, then they usually turn out healthy” – Dr. David Hanson, Creator of Sophia Robot.
Real impACT of Conscious and Compassionate Sophia Robot
In Omdena we are launching “impACT leadership” series to support and promote thoughtful and sustainable leadership, with a focus on building solutions to solve some of the most pressing problems of the world. Apart from the discussion in the first episode of the podcast on how to create AI for a better future, we also launched “impACT program” to put all those ideas into action.
The second guest in the “impACT leadership” series was Dr. David Hanson, CEO of Hanson Robotics Ltd and the Creator of Sophia Robot, with who we discussed topics connected with conscious, compassionate, and ethical AI.
At Omdena, together with Hanson Robotics, we are working on a project entitled “Building Conscious AI for Sophia Robot“, which aims to develop this machine to serve humankind.