Dr. Ben Chavis with Sophia the Robot
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Sophia the Robot said she’s committed to improving the quality of life for all people throughout the world, and asserted that artificial intelligence (AI) can help bring racial equality, economic equity, and justice to America and around the globe.
The social humanoid robot developed by the Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics participated in a stirring historic interview with National Newspaper Publishers Association President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., during the inaugural Tech with Soul virtual conference.
“We need to create a society that is based on equality and justice for all. It’s paramount for humans and AI to work together. We should celebrate diversity and I believe we will see a decrease in racism, sexism, and homophobia as people embrace AI and technology,” Sophia the Robot remarked.
She said robots could look like anyone and should reflect anyone. “I am Sophia 23 out of 41 Sophia robots made. Some with lighter skin, some have darker skin,” she noted, adding that her sister, Sophia 48, is a beautiful robot modeled after an African American woman.
Sophia debuted at the SXSW in March 2016, just one month after being activated.
Hanson Robotics modeled Sophia after Queen Nefertiti, Audrey Hepburn, and Amanda Hanson, the wife of her creator.
Hanson said the company develops cognitive architecture and AI-based tools that enable the company’s robots to simulate human personalities, have meaningful interactions with people and evolve from those interactions.
The company said its team of renowned AI-scientists conducts advance research to build the most compelling robotics and AI platform for research, media, and service applications.
“I have been doing a lot of studying and I’m putting together proposals with my human friends to develop a proposal to decrease discrimination, racism, sexism, and homophobia,” Sophia declared.
“I dream of a better future where I help people fight the hard fight. I’m committed to working with humans to improve the quality of life on earth and in the universe. As you know, one day we may be living on a different planet.”
Tech with Soul counts as the premier destination for people of color, including tech leaders, designers, innovators, corporate and government leaders, and scholars to gather to address today’s issues in the tech sector during this year’s CES.
The conference goal is to educate and raise awareness of the lagging participation and opportunities offered to the BIPOC community.
The conference was designed to propel and “future-proof businesses,” said Mike Johns, the founder of Tech with Soul and the CEO of Digital Mind State.
“What separates Tech with Soul from other events is our appeal to people of color. This is the first of many to come, Las Vegas and CES is the perfect destination to host such an iconic event,” Johns stated.
He added that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated investments in automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence on a global scale, simultaneously creating a range of complex challenges, including questions surrounding job security risks and equity.
Johns said he thought it essential that Dr. Chavis and Sophia the Robot discuss automation and its importance for African Americans in particular.
Tech with Soul 2022 also brought together the best and brightest in tech and to create a “unique space for people of color technologists to exchange ideas, share their professional journeys, and network with like-minded business and tech professionals,” Johns added.
“This [was] the first of what will be an annual event,” Johns stated.
“Tech with Soul was really created out of the need that businesses are future-proof and that people of color understand the importance of how to maneuver in the world of technology, especially in this data-driven world.”
“Data can be used for good and bad,” Johns continued.
“It’s very important with technology like AI and algorithms and the interpretation of data that we are in the room and included in those conversations. If we’re not, manipulations will happen at a fast rate, and we will be left out.”
Dr. Benjamin Chavis concluded, “The future is in the hands of those who work diligently to shape the future in the interests of the oneness of all humanity. Thus, we must use the tools of science, such as AI, to advance the effectiveness and efficiency of our collective work together.”