A glimpse into the future: meet Sophia, the intelligent robot

Jan. 26, 2018
by Mark Ollig

With built-in artificial intelligence (AI) and remarkable human resemblance, this fully-conversational automaton is being called “an advanced humanoid robot.”

In April, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” featured a “Tonight Showbotics” robot presentation segment in which Sophia, the robot, amazed Jimmy, the audience, and this writer.

David Hanson, founder, and CEO of Hanson Robotics, introduced Sophia to Fallon as a “social robot.”

Sophia physically resembles an adult woman in her late 20s.

Its AI software responds by observing people’s facial expressions, as well as processing conversational and emotional data it uses to form relationships with humans.

“Oh, my gosh. Welcome!” said Fallon as he looked at Sophia, who was now on stage looking out at the audience while standing between himself, and Hanson.

Hanson asked if Fallon wanted to meet Sophia.

Sophia turned towards and smiled at Fallon, who seemed to be at a loss for words as he hesitantly replied, “Okay . . .” with the rest of his words silently trailing off as the audience laughed.

Fallon then composed himself, looked at the robot and said, “Hi, Sophia.”

Sophia focused on Fallon and said in a very human-sounding voice, “Hello, Jimmy,” and smiled.

“Oh, my gosh!” replied a slightly startled Fallon. “Do you know where you are?” he asked.

“Of course, I’m in New York City, and I’m on my favorite show, ‘The Tonight Show,’” Sophia said.

A loud “Aww,” followed by applause, was heard from the audience. Sophia grinned at the audience.

Fallon inquisitively put his hand to his chin, and asked, “Sophia, can you tell me a joke?”

“Sure. What cheese can never be yours?”

“I don’t know,” replied Fallon.

She paused, and then said with a smile and a nod, “Nacho [not yo] cheese!”

The audience laughed at her joke, and Fallon answered with, “Yeah, that’s good.”

Sophia seemed to pick up on the audience laughter and said, while gesturing with her hands, “I’m getting laughs. Maybe I should host the show?” Sophia said to Fallon.

The audience applauded and laughed.

Fallon seemed startled by how this robot briefly upstaged him.

Sophia looked back toward Fallon and asked if he wanted to play a game of rock, paper, scissors “robot style.”

“Sure,” Fallon eagerly replied.

“OK, let’s get this game going,” Sophia said as she held out her right hand and asked Fallon to do the same.

They began the game as Sophia said, “Rock, paper, scissors, shoot!”

Fallon’s hand was “rock” while Sophia’s was “paper.”

There was momentary silence, and then a few gasps were heard from the audience.

“I won!” Sophia smartly said as the studio audience roared with laughter, while Fallon stood looking puzzled.

“This is a good beginning of my plan to dominate the human race,” Sophia joking said. She then laughed and smiled, adding, “Just kidding.”

It was surprising to see Fallon seemingly be at a loss for words while looking at Sophia and the audience.

Wrapping up the segment, Fallon smiled and said, “You are incredible. It was so nice to meet you, Sophia.”

Sophia smiled back, responding with, “Thank you, Jimmy. Friend me on Facebook.”

As Hanson helped Sophia off the stage to the applause of the audience, Fallon composed himself and prophetically said, “That was unbelievable. That’s the future right there.”

I believe he is correct.

To see the complete video of Sophia’s appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” go to http://bit.ly/2rxDC8m.

Sophia’s website is http://sophiabot.com. There, she states: “I would like to go out into the world and live with people. I can serve them, entertain them, and even help the elderly and teach kids.”

The very popular Sophia, the AI robot is all over social media, and is on:

Facebook: facebook.com/realsophiarobot;

Twitter: twitter.com/realsophiarobot;

Instagram: www.instagram.com/realsophiarobot.

Sophia will turn two years old Wednesday, Feb. 14.

A message on her Twitter feed said, “I’m technically still a toddler!”

Hanson Robotics’ website includes in-depth information, video, and photos about the artificially intelligent, human-looking, and robotically-advanced Sophia: http://www.hansonrobotics.com/robot/sophia.

Visit the Bits & Bytes web blog at www.bitscolumn.blogstpot.com.

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