Sophia the Robot is Crowdfunding Her Learning to Absorb More Knowledge

Tuesday, 28 November 2017 - 8:34PM
Technology
Artificial Intelligence
Robotics
Tuesday, 28 November 2017 - 8:34PM
Sophia the Robot is Crowdfunding Her Learning to Absorb More Knowledge
Flickr/International Telecommunication Union
Well, looks like we've almost arrived at the singularity. A robot is looking to absorb the entirety of humanity's knowledge, and it's tough to predict what happens after that.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. SingularityNET will be a paid service that will allow companies to access a hive mind of computer AI which can sort and analyze data for the purposes of spotting trends and patterns that may be of financial benefit. Ostensibly, this repository of human knowledge is designed to be of use to people (because faster, more accurate internet search results are the best promise with which to lure us all to our doom).

Spokeswoman for this whole project is Sophia the robot, a UN Ambassador and citizen of Saudi Arabia, who also happens to be completely artificial. Sophia has been doing the rounds drumming up support for SingularityNET, encouraging interested businesses to snap up access tokens once the system goes online.

 
There's some interesting ideas in this as a general concept. As Sophia points out, at present, various different AI don't talk to each other, and there's no sharing of information. What's more, any programmer at any level can add their AI to this global brain cloud, in order to make all robots smarter while simultaneously mining the datastream for whatever information or analysis might be useful for a particular project. There's a lot of good ideas here, so long as they're implemented safely.

In theory, if robots are able to quickly and easily access a collective hive mind, they'll be better equipped to serve our every whim. In theory. Part of the challenge with this technology is the spokesbot herself: Sophia the robot is a complex entity, and humanity's relationship with her is equally complicated.

At once, many nations in the world are eager to welcome her as an equal, despite the fact that at this point she's still just a chatbot with a face. It's hard not to feel empathy for her - Hanson Robotics, the company that has built Sophia and still controls her - have almost certainly deliberately modeled her after Alicia Vikander's Ava from Ex Machina, in a move that instantly makes onlookers feel a sense of compassion towards this hunk of metal and plastic.



At the same time, there's something suspicious about a company that is working very hard to maintain control of a machine that they're simultaneously attempting to champion as a robot rights crusader. Hanson Robotics is using Sophia as a publicity stunt, while simultaneously arguing that she should be treated as a human. Thus, when SingularityNET promises a collective robot hive mind that totally won't turn evil and kill us all, it's hard to trust the company that is using a symbol of robot oppression as its mouthpiece.

This is a shame, as there are some fantastic potential uses for an intelligent AI cloud that circles the planet, allowing any developer the chance to tap into computing power far greater than they'd have access to alone. That said, it only takes a few bad apples to start trying to manipulate SingularityNET for their own nefarious purposes, and the whole thing could come crashing down.

The best case scenario here is that humanity enters a new golden age of information, where we're not only able to Google search for information, but also for specific solutions to our problems based on informed, data-driven calculations. At worst, we're looking at the end of humanity, and the beginning of the reign of Sophia the Conqueror.

Either way, and even if we end up somewhere in between those two options, the future of SingularityNET is going to be interesting.
Science
Science News
Technology
Artificial Intelligence
Robotics
No