A robot that behaves or thinks like a human is called a humanoid. A robot can either be controlled directly using a controlled device or can be programmed to do specific tasks autonomously. Robots are widely used in manufacturing, assembly and packing, transport, earth and space exploration, surgery, weaponry, laboratory research, and mass production of consumer and industrial goods. The world’s first digital robot called the Unimate was invented by George Devol in 1954. It was sold to General Motors to help with the manufacturing process like lifting hot pieces of metal from a die casting machine and stacking them. But a humanoid robot was still a fiction until 1972, when the first humanoid robot called WABOT-1 was developed by Waseda University (Japan).WABOT-1 was able to walk, communicate (in japanese), grip objects, etc.
Even though it was a humanoid robot, it did not have intelligence like a human. Since than many humanoid robots were developed including ASIMO (Honda), Qrio (Sony), HOAP (Fujitsu), Salvius (open-source), Robonaut 2 (NASA), Manav (Diwakar Vaish), Nadine (Nanyang Technological University), etc But one such humanoid robot that behaves like a human is called Sophia. She is a social humanoid robot developed by the Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics, and was activated on February 14, 2016. She is the first humanoid to get Saudi Arabian citizenship in 2017. In the same year Sophia was named the United Nations Development Programme’s first Innovation Champion, and is the first non-human to be given a United Nations title.
Sophia was designed by Hanson Robotics to be a suitable companion for the elderly at nursing homes, or to help crowds at large events or parks. The company expects that the robot can ultimately interact with other humans sufficiently to gain social skills, and Sophia is marketed as a “social robot” that can mimic social behavior and induce feelings of love in humans.
Unlike any other robot that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) for data processing, Sophia uses various software technologies that makes her behave like a human. Sophia’s architecture includes scripting software, a chat system, and OpenCog – an special type of AI system designed for general reasoning, also known as Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). With the help of AGI Sophia can imitate human gestures and facial expressions, and uses speech recognition technology from Alphabet Inc., which was a parent company of Google. Her speech recognition system is designed to get smarter overtime . The speech synthesis of Sophia is provided by CereProc’s text-to-speech engine, and it enables her to sing also. Other than that, her intelligence software is exclusively designed by Hanson Robotics only. The AGI program analyzes conversations and extracts data that allows it to improve responses in the future.
Sophia has a computer vision algorithm that processes input from cameras within her eyes, giving her visual information on its surroundings. This vision system can follow faces, sustain eye contact, and recognize individuals. Apart from that, it can process speech and have conversations using a natural language subsystem. In January 2018, Sophia was upgraded with functional legs and she was able to walk like a human. She has real lifelike skin and can emulate more than 60 facial expressions.
Even Though Sophia uses the best software technologies and AGI to emulate human-like behavior, this can’t make her a perfect humanoid. To make a humanoid think like a human, a computer system with human brain emulation is necessary and even with AGI, more computing power is necessary to make a humanoid think like a human. There are various projects under development to create a computer system that would emulate a human brain. The Blue Brain project is one such initiative that is trying to build a human brain using supercomputer architecture. But it’s difficult to emulate a human brain, and using neuro-silicon interfaces have been proposed as an alternative implementation strategy that may scale better.
Building a robot that could think like a human is not as simple as Sophia but if technology improves then there is still more to come in the future. Ben Goertzel – the scientist behind the creation of Sophia, stated in response to a tweet of Facebook’s director of artificial intelligence, Yann LeCun – he had never pretended Sophia was close to human-level intelligence. Goertzel’s response to the tweet signifies that Sophia is not close to human intelligence even with AGI.
Life is not easy and most of the life forms on this planet are struggling to survive that includes humans too. However, with the help of science and technology we can make our life less struggling and easy-going. Since the emergence of various computer technologies like AI and Machine Learning (ML), it has become possible to build robots that can self learn and work independently. Development and innovation of products are the biggest challenges that require precise and repetitive tasks, which becomes impossible for any human to do for hours. That’s why a robot can perform such challenging task with the help of AI, and can make things possible in many difficult situation, which a human can’t do. A humanoid may lack consciousness or human emotions, but what a humanoid can do, no human can do (like automation). For example, if a humanoid can draw pictures repeatedly for hours, it won’t be possible for a human to do that.
However, if technology improves and if it becomes possible to create consciousness in a computer, then a humanoid with such a conscious computer would become the most helpful companion of every human.
Author: Debojit Acharjee
The author is a software engineer and likes to geek about various software technologies. Apart from that, he also likes writing articles related to science and technology. He has written many articles related to software technology and computer science, and has knowledge about various software technologies like Robot Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning (ML), blockchain, DevOps, database management, and also knows many programming languages. Besides that, he also knows about various multimedia software used for audio/video editing and production purposes. His passion for computers makes him work hard, and he believes that success comes in life only through hard work and good skills.
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