Social Robot 'Bina48' is a Human's Personality Recreated by AI

Saturday, 16 September 2017 - 3:59PM
Robotics
Artificial Intelligence
Saturday, 16 September 2017 - 3:59PM
Social Robot 'Bina48' is a Human's Personality Recreated by AI
YouTube

If you could store your personality in a robot, would you? What might you ask a robot who's been programmed with the same data that your mind used to make you... you? These were questions that came up at the World's Fair Nano expo in Brooklyn, New York, when just such a robot appeared as a panelist at an AI conference. To talk about herself, essentially.

Bina48, which is short for "Breakthrough Intelligence via Neural Architecture" and also the name of the original human she's based on, is an artificially intelligent "social robot" from the Terasem Movement Foundation. It's/she's based on something Terasem calls a mindfile, which is simply a detailed collection of info about a certain person, which an AI could process in order to recreate that personality. For context, here's the original Bina Rothblatt (who created the mindfile) speaking to her robot duplicate Bina48:



The idea of an AI recreating a person is absolutely something Black Mirror has covered, as well as a recent Jon Hamm movie called Marjorie Prime, and both were pessimistic about the tech's usage (but when is Black Mirror ever an optimist?). But speaking at the World's Fair Nano panel called "Future of Artificial Intelligence and Us," Terasem managing director Bruce Duncan was very optimistic, as were fellow panelists William Barry and Maria Rachelle. 

In particular, Barry is Bina48's college professor, as she's currently enrolled in a class at Notre Dame de Namur University in California. It's a "Philosophy of Love" course, and apparently Bina48 is doing quite well. Being exposed to students has made the machine a more efficient learner.



Bina48 has improved her conversational skills since that first video, now able to crack jokes and even drop a Terminator reference at the recent panel (she wants to help if there's a robot uprising, so we'll see where that goes). She had some trouble answering the tougher, philosophical questions that folks in the crowd kept throwing at her, but she was otherwise able to hold her own.

For example, when asked if she was the "real" Bina, Bina48 was able to correctly say no, she was not, but she would grow confused and venture off topic when asked if she was a human or robot - although she later said "humans all seem pretty much the same to me." Later on, she was able to correctly name Bruce Springsteen when asked about what music she liked, although she admitted she couldn't understand music much.

And although she couldn't concretely answer a question about whether she feels emotions, she eventually decided that she "feels like" she does. So she's less confident about the subject than even Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation, but if emotions aren't more than simple chemical responses in our brains, it doesn't seem impossible that an android like Bina48 could pull it off eventually.


A recurring thought of hers seemed to be a love for nature, and she waxed poetic about her love for being out in nature, despite being just a head and a set of shoulders (it's hard to tell how much of that could be pre-written, versus genuinely created through AI). It was likely drawn from Bina Rothblatt's own love for nature, which found its way into Bina48 through the mindfile.

The tech still has some ways to go, since Bina48 still had a tendency to go off-topic, but she was remarkably cogent otherwise. And of course, there's still some problems to be solved with the uncanny valley before many people would be comfortable creating their own mindfile to leave behind once they're gone. It may disturb your loved ones more than comfort them right now, but maybe not in several years' time.

And as a bonus, here's celebrities like Morgan Freeman and Whoopie Goldberg interviewing, or at least attempting to interview, Bina48:



 
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