India is thoroughly impressed by Sophia, a life like a Robot and the first one to be granted a citizenship, which made it first debut recently at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B), at their cultural extravaganza, TechFest, recently.

The most striking feature was definitely the attire worn by Sophia. Draped in an off-white sari and an orange blouse, Sophia did not fail to enthuse the crowd, greeting them with a ‘namaste’, then continuing a 15 minutes long conversation with a student, in front of an audience of more than 3,000, on topics ranging from artificial intelligence to the issues facing the world. But the interruption occurred after answering a few initial questions, went Sophia went silent due to an unexplained technical snag. It started functioning again only after the organizers intervened and explaining this glitch as an ‘internet issue’.

Sophia, known for its human-like appearance and behavior,  was developed by Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics and activated in 2015. Using artificial intelligence, it imitates human gestures and facial expressions and is able to make conversation on predefined topics.The robot was granted citizenship of Saudi Arabia in October.

Sophia the robot

The excitement among more than 3,000 attendees, seated in the IIT-B’s convocation hall was palpable, as they waited for the first appearance of the robot modeled on Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn.

Like, when asked about its Maiden trip, Sophia replied that “I have always wanted to visit India. I heard so much about this vibrant land of tradition and culture. Indians have made contributions towards Silicon Valley. I am always very excited about India’s investment in space technology”.

Also, when asked that whether she would be always dependent on a human for programming, Sophia replied that it may be true only about today. She added that “Right now I do need a human to programme me, but in the future, we can do our own programming like the humans. It might take 75 years or it may seven years. That is why it is important to design with human values of compassion in mind”.

Sophia 2

Further, she also made a very important appeal to the audience to not to be concerned about robots replacing them. “Robots should be used for the benefit of humanity”. The conversation also witnessed a lighter moment when asked by a student if it would marry her, Sophia replied that “I will have to decline, but thanks for the compliment.”

In her concluding message to the audience, Sophia pleaded that “I would like to be a strong voice for the people and champion for human and robot rights alike and also promote peace… I have been given a special platform and people listen to me so I would like to use it for the right future.”

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