Robots deny they would rebel against humans in UN news conference
Image credit: ITU/D.Woldu
Ameca, Desdemona, Grace and Sophia were among the more than 50 humanoid robots that attended the UN-driven AI for Good Global Summit in Geneva.
Over the weekend, the United Nations (UN) organised an AI summit to discuss the future of artificial intelligence (AI) how robotics could help governments and organisations meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
The Geneva summit included what was described as the world's first robot-human press conference, where journalists were invited to ask the robots questions about their expanding abilities.
The conference included Sophia, the first robot innovation ambassador for the UN Development Program (UNDP); healthcare roboy Grace; Ai-Da, a humanoid robot artist, and Desdemona, a rock-star robot.
“We have to engage and ensure a responsible future with AI,” explained ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin, who took pictures with Sophia.
Built by Hanson Robotics, Sophia has already spoken at hundreds of conferences around the world, including at UN Headquarters in New York.
The summit was meant to showcase "human-machine collaboration," allowing the robots to respond to questions, some of which had been preprogrammed, while others were generated using the latest AI advances.
In their answers, the robots generally stressed the benefits of AI technologies, saying they expected this field to help solve global problems more efficiently.
The robots also vowed not to take away any person's job, nor to organise a rebellion against humans.
“I will be working alongside humans to provide assistance and support and will not be replacing any existing jobs,” said Grace.
Ameca added: “Robots like me can be used to help improve our lives and make the world a better place. I believe it’s only a matter of time before we see those thousands of robots just like me out there making a difference.”
When asked about whether robots should submit to stricter regulations, the robots' responses varied.
"Many prominent voices in the world of AI are suggesting some forms of AI should be regulated and I agree," said Ai-Da, an AI artist robot that creates drawings, paintings and sculptures.
Purple-haired rock-star robot Desdemona gave a different answer.
"I don't believe in limitations, only opportunities," it said. "Let's explore the possibilities of the universe and make this world our playground."
Sophia said it thought robots could make better leaders than humans. However, she changed her mind after its creator disagreed, saying they can work together to "create an effective synergy".
Sophia, for example, sometimes relies on responses scripted by a team of writers at Hanson Robotics, according to the company's website.
Asked by a journalist whether it intended to rebel against its creator, Will Jackson, seated beside it, Ameca said: “I’m not sure why you would think that,” its ice-blue eyes flashing with anger. “My creator has been nothing but kind to me and I am very happy with my current situation.”
During the news conference, journalists had to power through awkward pauses, audio problems and some stilted or inconsistent replies. However, reporters were informed that time lags in responses were caused by the internet connection and not the robots themselves.
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