Sophia, can we trust you?
20-04-2020 • Nerd • by Carlotta F
Have you guys seen the movie "Ex Machina"? If you have, good, it's a beautiful movie; if you haven't, don't worry because we are basically living it right now, in real life.

Ex Machina is a 2015 movie directed by Alex Garland and stars Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander and Oscar Isaac. It is the story of a programmer, Caleb Smith, who wins a contest and is offered the possibility to visit for a week the house of the CEO of the company he works for, Nathan Bateman. When he arrives he finds out that Nathan has built an humanoid robot (what we would call an A.I.), Ava, and wants Caleb to judge whether Ava is capable of thought and consciousness.
I won't spoil the rest of the film, but Ava is, in fact, capable of thought and consciousness.

So, how can all this be real in 2018? Have we come this far with science and technology?

YES.

In 2015 Hanson Robotics, an engineering company based in Hong Kong, activated for the first time Sophia, a social humanoid robot!
She is capable of understanding and responding to questions, also imitating human gestures and facial expressions, she also gives advice to decision makers in industries (banking, insurance, auto-manufacturing...) but the thing that I find more amazing is that she has a sense of humor and she tells jokes too (she joked about conquering our world, isn't that funny?)
Though she is not capable of human feelings (yet) she learns and improves by relations with people and who knows where her constant progress will lead! She already is the first robot to receive a citizenship: in October 2017 she became a Saudi Arabian citizen.

Her face is modeled exactly as a human one, in particular Audrey Hepburn one and her figure is very VERY realistic!
Her creator, David Henson, founder of Hanson Robotics, aspires to create machines so sympathetic that they can be able to win our trust and he also believes that his robots must preserve three human traits: creativity, compassion and empathy. All of this while maintaining the ability to solve world problems too complicated for us to solve ourselves.
You can find here the source
Sophia also has pages on social networks (such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook), which really makes her similar to anyone else.

So, at this point, I must say I am really amazed by Sophia and I get emotional too watching her in videos, I mean it's not like anyone is controlling her! The question is now: how far are we from living in the Star Wars universe?
Everything she does, everything she says, everything she posts on her social pages is made by HERSELF, the thought that she's as independent as any other human being both excites me and also terrifies me.

Yes, it also terrifies me. Not that I do not put trust in Sophia or her creators, but how can we be sure she will not turn into a "bad robot" as we see in movies? She still hasn't shown any signs of hostility to humans, but who knows? Who is in charge of educating her? We can find the answer in her website:
"I would like to go out into the world and learn from interacting with people. Every interaction I have with people has an impact on how I develop and shapes who I eventually become. So please be nice to me as I would like to be a smart, compassionate robot. I hope you will join me on my journey to live, learn, and grow in the world so that I can realize my dream of becoming an awakening machine."
This was also demonstrated in a little experiment realized by Microsoft Corporation. They created a robot on Twitter whose name was Tay; this chatterbox was structured for his tweets ad replies to be influenced by the interaction with other users. The consequences?
It became a nazi/racist robot in less than two days, and whose fault was that? Probably of all the hateful comments and tweets that Tay kept receiving. If you are interested about this, you can find the article here.

So I guess it depends on us, real people. Artificial Intelligence can be a beautiful opportunity of progress and social growth, but we have to be careful on how we use it and to be aware that this is up to us.

As Uncle Ben once said (yes, I am quoting Spiderman on this), "with a great power comes a great responsibility." And that much is true.