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Robots of future: Allies or rivals?

Humanoid robot Sophia tells Knowledge Summit she wants to fall in love

Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
umanoid robot Sophia addressing delegates.
Gulf News

Dubai: The jury is still out as to whether artificially intelligent robots and machines of the future will be a force for good or bad for humanity, said a panel of experts at the close of Knowledge Summit on Wednesday.

But the session did hit a high note when one of the panellists named Sophia, a world-famous humanoid robot who speaks and moves like a real human, told delegates that it wanted to fall in love.

Seated on the panel, Sophia introduced herself to the audience and said that it wanted to explore the discussion about artificially intelligent machines someday being afforded individual rights as a sentient being.


Featuring large in the discussion on the future of AI as an alliance or adversary was Sophia’s creator, David Hanson, founder and CEO of Hanson Robotics based in Hong Kong, who said it’s anyone’s guess as to the outcome of human’s advancement of technology.

“I am worried, I think there are many ways that AI could go wrong, our future could go wrong. Life could be wiped off this planet due to various technological disasters,” Hanson told Gulf News in an interview after his presentation.

“Artificial intelligence could evolve beyond the level of human understanding without being sympathetic to us. It might not be malevolent towards us but it still might be harmful. And it might be an inspiration for us to rise against it and it could defend itself. That’s one scenario.”

One alternative, he said, is to begin the man-and-machine journey with early steps of empathy and teaching AI-driven technology such as Sophia the merits of love and understanding to thwart malice from infecting programming, he said.

“We can find a way to make machines that are very, very smart and that care. That’s the way we make machines safe going into the future,” he said.

Anders Sorman-Nilsson, innovation and digital adaptation expert, pointed out that as we move towards digital disruption, humans are pondering their own existence.

“We are really exploring now what it means to be human,” he said, adding that big philosophical questions await humanity as AI machines become more commonplace in society.

Thirteen-year-old Indian computer whizz kid Tanmay Bakshi said he didn’t believe that AI in its present form is anywhere near creating conscious beings and said that pundits are overplaying neural networks as something magical.

For the moment, Bakshi said, “Machines work with a bunch of maps and are not biologically connected. Neural networks are not technically simulating human brains.”

Bakshi, however, said he looks forward to a career in advancing artificial intelligence and the many benefits technology may hold for next generations.

 

UAE developing AI law

Dubai: Panelist Khalid Al Razooqi, general director of E-Services Department of Dubai Police, said emerging digital technology such as self-driving cars are posing new challenges.

Dubai Police and legal authorities are working on new laws to oversee a very different future to provide a legal framework to answer new situations emerging from advanced technology, he told delegates attending the Knowledge Summit.

Noting that Dubai Police now have own robot, he said new changes have raised questions like who’s at fault in an accident, for example, that involves a self-driving car that was being driven by a computer programme and not a human.

Tesla and Google software is already actively in service around the world.

“In Dubai and the UAE, we’re looking to bring out a new law,” Al Razooqi said. “Who will account for these kinds of accidents? We’re working on it, it will be ready soon.”

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