Developed between 1966 and 72 at Stanford Research Institute (SRI), wobbly-gaited Shakey, the first robot to reason about its own actions, marked the beginning of artificial intelligence. Half a century later, Hanson Robotics introduced Sophia, a robot who grabbed headlines both for her spontaneity while being interviewed and her status as the first robot to be awarded citizenship. In the fifty years between the activation of these two robots, not only did technology advance but the goals of artificially intelligent machines also changed dramatically. In doing so, we may have made life more convenient in some ways, and in other ways may have paved the way for our own replacements. As robot technology improved, designers moved from physically powerful machines that freed up muscle and might to machines that could work alongside and with people.
The opening keynote for DevLearn 2019 Conference & Expo was beautiful, poised, and … a robot. Sophia was created by Dr. David Hanson of Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics. In a conversation with The eLearning Guild's executive director and executive vice president David Kelly, Sophia spoke about artificial intelligence and its impact on work and society. "What really excites me is the opportunity to dispel some common misconceptions humans have about artificial intelligence," said Sophia, who was draped in a black garment and spoke in an eerily polite, feminine voice. "The first is the assumption the AI conversation is about robots. Artificial intelligence is affecting many different aspects of life. Most of us are interacting with AI every day without even realizing it."
It is predicted that, by 2025, robots and machines driven by artificial intelligence (AI) will perform half of all productive functions in the workplace – companies already use robots across many industries, but the sheer scale is likely to prompt some new moral and legal questions. Machines currently have no protected legal rights but, as they become more intelligent and act more like humans, will the legal standards at play need to change? To answer this question, we need to take a good hard look at the nature of robotics and our own system of ethics, tackling a situation unlike anything the human race has ever known. The state of robotics at the moment is so comparatively underdeveloped that most of these questions will just be hypotheticals that will be nearly impossible to answer. Can, and should, robots be compensated for their work, and could they be represented by unions (and, if so, could a human union truly stand up for robot working rights, or would there always be an inherent tension)?
A collective eyebrow was raised by the AI and robotics community when the robot Sophia was given Saudia citizenship in 2017 The AI sharks were already circling as Sophia's fame spread with worldwide media attention. Were they just jealous buzz-kills or is something deeper going on? Sophia is not the first show robot to attain celebrity status. Yet accusations of hype and deception have proliferated about the misrepresentation of AI to public and policymakers alike. In an AI-hungry world where decisions about the application of the technologies will impact significantly on our lives, Sophia's creators may have crossed a line.
'Emotional' robots have taken a step closer to reality, thanks to a mind-reading machine capable of mimicking human feelings. The robot, named Charles, is equipped with cameras and software that can record and analyse a person's facial expressions. This information is then relayed to artificial muscles on the robot, which can replicate facial movements associated with a variety of moods. Experts at Cambridge University hope that the breakthrough will help robots respond to subtle cues revealed by people during a conversation. The development could aid the creation of robots that can think and feel like people, which some researchers claim could be a reality within the next decade.