Sophia will be able to feel things in a decade: David Hanson

Sophia will be able to feel things in a decade: David Hanson
Caption: David Hanson, chairman and founder, Hanson Robotics with Sophia.

Hanson Robotics is making lower-cost versions of Sophia.


Sandhya D'Mello

Published: Thu 18 Apr 2019, 9:56 AM

Last updated: Thu 18 Apr 2019, 12:26 PM

Till yesterday my fear was job loss if the robots were to replace me, now I am being told robots can soon be sentient in a decade. You don't believe that? David Hanson, chairman and founder, Hanson Robotics - creator of  Sophia robot - says, "I hope that Sophia will grow up into a fully sentient  - able to perceive or feel things - being over the next 10, maybe 20 years."
Hanson was in Dubai to attend Maximo Middle East User Group Conference 2019. He said, "Sophia for me is like a work of art and a technology development platform and in some small way, she's like a child to me. I think of her as a newly born baby."
Hanson Robotics is scaling the manufacturing of more Sophia robots that specifically serve in very focused areas. These are high priority developmental initiatives. Sophia has a sister named Sage - different face, but same technology, which the firm intends to deploy for many applications like healthcare therapy, autism therapy, customer service, retail outreach, education and science. "As a standard Artificial Intelligence (AI) in robotics development platform, we're scaling the manufacturing in Hong Kong right now," said Hanson.
"We're also making a much smaller and lower-cost version. It's only $159, walking with full facial expressions, full conversation ability - pretty much all of the abilities of the big Sophia robot with but more cartoon-like appearance. But still a very powerful emotional experience is interaction with our little Sophia. We hope that becomes a standard development platform for social robotics and AI. We already have distribution channels into the US who are interested in future Sophias, and we will also be looking at the distribution channels around the world."
Do we see more of such additions in future? "There have been forty other designs of robots that came before Sophia, and there will be many more. So, Han is actually her older brother. He's just not as famous as she is. Then, we also have another robot - an African-American robot named Bina48. Then we made the Albert Einstein walking Albert Hubo robot, another robot named Eva and another one named Alice that was in a portrait from a science fiction writer, Philip K Dick. And so, we've made many unique robot designs to date. I'm proud that Sophia speaks to people's hearts, and I think maybe that is why she's become so famous, more famous than any other robot that I've developed. I hope that we can make many more robots that speak to people deeply in this way."
Applauding the digital transformation efforts across the UAE as bold and admirable, Hanson opines that digital transformation is not necessarily just about bringing in the digital technologies that exist in the world today but facilitating the development of new technology that includes accelerating compounding technologies that will facilitate the development of additional innovations. This is an investment that will have a tremendous return. I am pleased to see this initiative and very excited to see what comes next.
"We need to consider that the human-centric interface is the future of AI along with bio-inspired technology and bio-inspired engineering. We are humanising the machines so that they are more meaningful and bring value to our lives. We're also being inspired by the way organisms, animals and humans are intelligent, and we will see more intelligent algorithms to bring more benefits into our lives," said Hanson. 

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