Aug 17, 2019 | Updated: 07:24 AM EDT

Social Humanoid Robots: The Beginning of a New Race?

Mar 13, 2019 01:01 PM EDT

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Artificial intelligence is not a new science, but could it be the beginning of an entirely new race? As if it were ripped from a Hollywood blockbuster synopsis, robots with the ability to communicate, recognize people and learn new information are already amongst us. These man-made humanoids are starting to appear on television and radio talk shows, as well as in our homes.

You may be familiar with Amazon's Alexa or Google's Assistant or their most popular predecessor, Apple's Siri, but there's a new girl in town and her name is Sofia, Sofia the Robot. Sofia was developed by Hanson Robotics, a company out of Hong Kong and not only is Sofia highly intelligent, she can also make facial expressions and hold extended conversations. Sofia has camera eyes allowing her to follow faces, sustain eye contact and recognize individuals. She uses artificially intelligent software that is linked to a cloud, which is constantly upgrading and improving her intelligence. Essentially, the more human interaction Sofia experiences, the more human-like her responses and expressions become. Her conversations will become quicker and her facial expressions and responses will become more accurate. It all seems very complex, but if we examine the science behind it, it is rather simplistic.

Sofia's camera eyes use the same facial recognition technology that didn't gain popularity amongst government agencies until sometime around 2010. As for her human interaction abilities, they too are rather simplistic, relying solely on prewritten responses and stored data. And considering her intelligence is mainly powered by the internet, the shock value of her knowledge is somewhat low. Now when it comes to the facial expressions, that's as simple as matching the face to the topic. For example, a rather serious topic would not warrant a smile or laugh, keywords could easily suggest the tone of a question or topic. While Sofia and those similar to her are an entertaining example of what the future may hold, that's as far as it goes for now. A new race? I think not. While the technology is an incredible advancement from previous versions, a Skylab-like takeover is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

As of now, the truly human characteristics that you and I share, such as feelings of nostalgia, dreams, hopes and fears, those are still solely inherent to the human race and have yet to be artificially replicated. Until a social humanoid robot can express its feelings while listening to a song that was originally used in a movie to portray a certain emotion during a scene, we the human race, should not worry.

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