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Robots.  They are coming, whether you like it or not.  In fact, in reality, they are already here. The majority of factories today employ robots to do the lion’s share of work and have done for many years if not decades.  Robots are nothing new, yet, we are entering a new phase in their development.

Today, we are being introduced to life-like robots that we would have once only seen in a science-fiction movie.  The first robot citizen, Sophia (who was granted citizenship to Saudi Arabia, last winter) has started turning heads in a number of interviews where she has displayed a human-like ability to comprehend and respond to emotion; so rather than be limited to fast functional features such as bolting together car components, she is able to converse and “relate” on a human level.

For many, this is viewed as an amazing scientific breakthrough, whilst for others, they feel this is a slippery slope that is leading us toward an I, Robot film scenario which could have disastrous consequences if robots gain so much intelligence they can outsmart humans; and reverse the roles so that we are the “robots” doing menial tasks.

Of course, in the real world, where people run for Arizona secretary of state office and we are faced with increasing tensions between countries like North Korea and Russia… robots are the last thing on our mind – yet, it’s important to keep up with the latest advances, as robots do seem to be coming, and the future is now.

The question, and perhaps, a concern is that with such impressive computing power, and the apparent ability to interpret human emotion, could robots ever reach a stage in their development where they become more intelligent than humans?

The answer is probably yes… indeed, in some ways they are more capable and certainly more efficient than humans in the tasks they undertake, and whilst these tasks are currently limited to relatively menial functions – there’s nothing stopping robots taking the place of our armed forces, police and even healthcare functions.

Hanson Robotics, has created one of the most life-like robots the world has ever seen, in that it has a surprisingly human appearance and, according to several sources has the ability to relate and understand emotion.

The Sophia-Bot has artificial intelligence that facilitates deep learning.  Sophia has an interactive personality, akin to that of a child, that evolves and adapts to the situations she finds herself in.

Sophia explains, whilst demonstrating different facial expressions, that “I can let you know if I am angry about something or if something has upset me”, stating how she wants to live and work with humans so she needs to express the emotions to understand humans and build trust with people.

There’s an interesting political and cultural controversy surrounding this robot’s citizenship, namely that this female robot would appear to have more “rights” than human citizens of Saudi Arabia, yet the fact to focus on is that technology is aiming to become much more helpful… and it’s interesting to see what happens next.

How would you feel, if one day, rather than be met by an ‘imperfect human’ at the operating theatre, you were met by a robot that could facilitate your operation with absolute precision?  It’s an interesting thought and it’s a good idea to keep an eye on where this technology is heading.

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