25 February 2022
The world’s first humanoid Artificial Intelligence robot.
Sophia Robot

This week, in anticipation of our Sunday night movie Superintelligence, we asked our audience which was the world’s first humanoid Artificial Intelligence robot.

While WABOT- 1 and Shakey may have been viable answers, however, Sophia from Hanson Robotics is considered the world’s first humanoid AI robot.

Modelled after the Egyptian queen Nefertiti, Audrey Hepburn and the creator’s wife Amanda Hanson, Sophia is famous for her human-like appearance and behaviour that surpasses any other previous robotic variants.

Sophia was first activated on 14 February 2016. Hanson, a Hong Kong-based robotics company, had designed Sophia to be a suitable companion for the elderly at nursing homes or to help crowds at large events or parks. The creator says that he hopes that the robot can eventually communicate effectively with humans and ultimately gain social skills. Sophia is marketed as a "social robot" that can mimic social behaviour and induce feelings of love in humans.

After Saudi Arabia granted Sophia citizenship, she became the first robot to become a citizen of any country in November 2017. She is also the first robot Innovation Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme.

A computer vision algorithm processes input from cameras within Sophia's eyes, giving Sophia visual information on her surroundings. She can follow faces, maintain eye contact, and recognise individuals. She can process speech and have conversations using a natural language subsystem. In January 2018, Sophia was upgraded with functional legs and the ability to walk. Finally, her life-like skin can emulate more than 60 facial expressions.

What are your thoughts about the future of robotics? Should we prepare for a robot takeover or not?