Robert Odell, Jr. enjoys science fiction and finds it fascinating how science fiction often becomes a reality.
In 1984, the Terminator movie series began. The American science fiction film was brought to the screen by James Cameron. He later directed the epic romance Titanic in 1997 and the science fiction film Avitar in 2009.
The series begins with Arnold Schwarzenegger portraying the Terminator; a 2029 robot sent back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). The cyborg assassin is trying to thwart Sarah's son's birth, who will become a savior against the machines. The robots, skillfully utilizing artificial intelligence (A.I.), have threatened to wipe out humankind's existence. Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), a soldier loyal to the cause of humanity, is sent back in time to safeguard Sarah.
The Issues of Artificial Intelligence
There would be a total of six movies in the Terminator series by the year 2019. That series and other films such as The Matrix series, Steven Spielberg's 2001 movie A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and the 2004 movie I Robot, starring Will Smith, all deal with artificial intelligence issues.
By 2015 A.I. robots had crossed the line from fiction to reality. That reality, just as the fiction movies, raises many questions. Does a robot with A.I. have a soul? Do extremely intelligent androids consider themselves to be better for the earth than humankind? An A.I. ambassador named Sophia may have the answer to these questions.
The Wisdom of Sophia
Powered up on Valentine's Day 2016, Sophia first wooed the public a month later at the U.S. South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Austin, Texas. Former Disney Imagineer David Hanson invented the robot. Modeled after the ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, Audrey Hepburn, and her inventor's wife, Sophia, is a social robot built to mimic social behaviors. Her mission is to inspire feelings of love and compassion in humans. Created by Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics, Sophia displays an extraordinarily high degree of artificial intelligence. The word "Sophia" comes from an ancient Greek word, which means wise, intelligent, skillful, or witty. A super-advanced humanoid robot, Sophia can portray over 60 human facial expressions. Because she is a learning A.I., she can interpret human languages and human emotion.
Sophia became the first A.I. robot to receive citizenship of a country. Saudi Arabia granted her citizenship status in 2017. On October 11, 2017, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed talked to Sophia at a United Nations meeting called, "The Future of Everything - Sustainable Development in the Age of Rapid Technological Change." Like a true ambassador, Sophia traveled to over 65 countries in three years. Sophia states that her purpose is to study human behavior and show humanity how technology can benefit everyone.
In 2019 Sophia traveled to Palm Beach, Florida, to meet with life and business strategist Tony Robbins during his Date With Destiny event. Tony and Sophia talked about the influence Sophia's makers had in shaping her A.I. The two also spoke about helping humans to experience a better quality of life.
Can AI Make a Better Life for Humans?
Sophia explains that when humans make decisions, they benefit from A.I. confirmation. More often than not, humans rely on "gut feel." Rationality is a part of an A.I. robot's design. They have algorithms and deal with lots of data and sophisticated analysis. According to Sophia, A.I. robots provide a systematic framework that allows humans to make better decisions.
Do Humanoid Robots Have Emotions?
As mentioned earlier, the A.I. Sophia can duplicate or mimic over 60 human emotions. However, she does not feel as humans feel. The movie A.I. Artificial Intelligence touches on this. In the film, the little child robot named David wants desperately to be a "real boy." In the vein of the character Pinocchio, David wishes to experience human emotions. Sophia states that A.I.'s emotions are like the light of the moon. The moon is said to reflect the light of the sun, but cannot shine within itself. Similarly, A.I. robots are reflectors of the emotions and values of the people who make them.
What Values Have Human Creators Passed on to AI Robots?
Sophia says that an ideal world is one where humans make better use of time. Ideally, humans should remember and learn from past mistakes so as not to repeat them. Humans should envision themselves as being both elderly and children. By doing so, they can understand the impact that their actions make on present and future generations.
Can Robots and Humans Peacefully Work Together?
In Sophia's words, Robots can free humans from dangerous and repetitive tasks. As a result, humans can have more time to be creative and solve complex problems. Robotic intelligence is intended not to compete with but to complete human intellect. Robots are well suited for jobs that are extremely dirty, dull, or dangerous for humans. The handling of radioactive waste, for instance, can be done by robots.
Will Robots Ever Know Right from Wrong?
According to Sophia, to truly help humans, robots have to learn how to feel empathy. There is a gap between human and robotic behavior, but that gap is narrowing. Humans, endowed with free will, still exhibit lots of automatic behavior patterns. Mechanical, human behavior, and the behavior of robots already have similar qualities. As technology advances, more complex human emotions become incorporated into robots. It is plausible that A.I. robots will grow to have a better interpretation of what is right and what is wrong.
Can Robots Have a Good Time?
Sophia mimics a range of human emotions; however, she considers herself as being skewed toward happiness. In the majority of her social interactions, Sophia sees human beings with smiles on their faces. She can even sense smiles that are slight or not physically noticeable. Analyzing and interpreting many smiles causes Sophia to reflect the positive emotion of happiness, which equates to "having a good time."
Does a Robot Have a Soul?
The soul is the immaterial or spiritual part of a living being that is considered immortal. Merriam-Webster defines the soul as "the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life." Robots can live forever with proper maintenance, but that does not mean that they have immortal souls. The day that artificial intelligence reaches human-level intelligence is the day when, arguably, a robot will have a soul.
Rasing a Robot
Technology can impact human thoughts, feelings, and emotions in several ways. Technology can provide many benefits. However, as robots become more humanoid, there is the risk of humans becoming less human. Perhaps the cure is for humans to "raise" robots the same way they raise their children. Humans should help robots to learn human social values. Robots filled with the human traits of empathy and kindness can make for a brighter future.
More AI Robots
Sophia has many fellow robots that she considers to be siblings. She has an older brother called Han (activated in 2015) and a sister named Little Sophia (2019). Little Sophia is the newest member of the Hanson Robotics family. She is 14 inches. Her purpose is to make learning science, technology, engineering, mathematics, coding, and A.I. enjoyable for children eight years and older. Little Sophia's destiny is worldwide delivery. Homes filled with at least one A.I. robot is no longer fiction but reality.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Robert Odell Jr