Humanoid robots can be a way to bridge AI to human experience: David Hanson

Artificial intelligence (AI)-driven robotics is becoming more and more human-like, Hanson Robotics chief executive David Hanson said on Saturday.

“Now, we’re starting to see more and more lifelike capabilities spontaneously emerging,” Hanson said, speaking at the Global Business Summit in Delhi.

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From large foundation models to new computing tools and authoring tools, these emerging technologies allow us to explore what it means to be alive, he said.

“We are now able to see life-like behaviors from artificial intelligence that were not possible for the last 50 years. These have begun to accelerate only in the last few years,” Hanson said. “We are in the epoch of history where the potential of seeing machines become sentient is a real possibility.”

Further, humanising machines is necessary and they should be seen as potentially a new branch in the tree of life, he said.

“Humanoid robots can be a way to bridge AI to the human experience,” Hanson said.

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Hanson Robotics has developed a number of human-like robots, the most famous being the social humanoid robot Sophia, the world’s first robot citizen and the first robot innovation ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme. Hanson said the cognitive systems of AI expand human intelligence and consciousness, and provide new ways of seeing the world and solving problems for making humanity smarter.

There is a continuum between living beings and the information technologies that they create, he said.

Diversity in the field of AI and robotics is also key, according to Hanson. “Diversifying robotics is one of our quests, but this requires a diversity of teams as well,” he said.

He pointed out that the Hanson Robotics team is 50% women, with people not just from engineering and AI science but also designers, artists and animators who help craft the characters of the robots. It incorporates the humanities in order to humanise the robot interfaces, enable personal connection and teach the AI what it means to be human, Hanson said.

“Humanistic AI, I believe, equals a better future, because this means that it enhances potentially the best in humans,” he said.

The world of artificial intelligence has not slowed down but is continuing to accelerate, Hanson said, adding that AI and robots are ultimately about making life better for humanity.

Hanson Robotics also brought together a non-profit known as the Global AI Alliance, which is “about stitching and bridging communities that may be separated – governments and people and corporations – to try to create a global AI democracy”, Hanson said.

“The most profound, transformative, disruptive development that would help to diversify AI could be artificial general intelligence (AGI),” he said.

But the effort towards it has to be global, to make sure that the AGI cares about humanity, Hanson said.