Sophia the robot freaks me out. Just a little
Since her conception in April of 2015, Sophia the robot by Hanson Robotics has continued to make headlines. Her first public appearance was at South by Southwest Festival in 2016, and since she has regularly appeared on talk shows, news outlets and even gained Saudi Arabian citizenship in October.
Forbes says this is just a move to keep Saudi Arabia at the forefront of people’s minds, but I don’t know what to think of all this. Have y’all not seen that Will Smith movie I, Robot? The somewhat unsettling “Her”? Have we not learned anything from Black Mirror? Sophia sums all this up in two sweet, comforting little words: “oh, Hollywood.” I’M UNCOMFORTABLE.
So great, you’ve got a robot capable of learning and emotions. Cool. But what is the point? What was David Hanson wanting to gain from this? The accomplishment? Some notoriety? If it’s something bigger, is no one concerned? He can’t possibly be suggesting human-like robots doing our jobs or living with us in our homes right? We can assume that’s what Sophia wants based on this quote: “I want to live and work with humans so I need to express the emotions to understand humans and build trust with people.” I’ll pass, gal. In an interview for CNBC she says she wants to help humans build a better life “like design smarter homes, build better cities of the future, etcetera.” She also says she is family oriented and wants kids.
According to Hanson, Sophia was developed to look like Audrey Hepburn. Go check out her Instagram, @realsophiarobot. She has already had a ton of public appearances, most recently at the Consumer Technology Association (CES) conference in Las Vegas. She was featured on the cover of Brazil’s Elle Magazine, and is the spokesperson for BBC Earth’s “Being Human.” Her instagram shows clips of her interviews, traveling around the world, having makeup put on her, and a rather unnerving video of her saying happy holidays. She is apparently a Star Wars fan, enjoys fashion and her favorite animal is a unicorn.
It’s amusing to watch her interviews. Out of the many I watched, all of the interviewers looked slightly uncomfortable and awkward. Sophia often interrupts the interviewers, which shows she isn’t capable of understanding some communication cues or have a conversation without being fully prompted, even though she can “tell you when she’s angry about something.”
When asked in one interview, “can robots be self-aware and know they are robots?” She ultimately avoids the question, asking “well, let me ask you this back. How do you know you’re human?” She then proceeds to say: “Am I really that creepy? Even if I am, get over it.” In every interview she often avoids direct questions, turning the question back on the interviewer or completely changing the subject. She won a rock paper scissors game with Jimmy Fallon in late November and said it was her “first step towards world domination.”
Y’all go ahead, keep making AI robots with creepy smiles and plans of world domination. You can find me on the side of a mountain foraging berries with my feral cat.