Hanson Robotics showed off Sophia — a lifelike humanoid robot capable of facial expression — at SXSW Interactive recently. Sophia is a robot that’s designed to interact with humans, with sophisticated cameras that can track the facial expressions and eye movement of the people she’s talking to. She’s even capable of maintaining eye contact to form a connection. However, out of the 62 facial expressions that Sophia is able to make, a lot of them are just plain… creepy.
Sophia’s face is made up of a patented rubber material dubbed ‘frubber’ that can better simulate the elasticity of human skin and help with simulated expression-making. She wasn’t brought to SXSW just as a showpiece, however, but as a way for Sophia to actively learn more about people and the art of interacting with them. She pointed this out in her panel, saying: “rather than be a spectacle, I would rather learn and participate.”
David Hanson is a firm believer in humanoid robots, believing that they could be used for medical purposes, therapy, education, or even treating contagious diseases. “I believe that there will be a time where robots are indistinguishable from humans,” says David Hanson of Hanson Robotics. “My preference is to always make them look a little bit like robots, so you know.” This explains the clear panel on the back of Sophia’s skull that shows her inner workings — though much effort has gone into making sure her face is as realistic as possible. That being said, her expressions seem to range between thoroughly disgusted and slightly psychotic:
At one point, David Hanson asks a question that you should never, ever ask of a semi-sentient humanoid robot: “Do you want to destroy humans?” “Okay, I will destroy humans,” she agrees pleasantly, making this face at the camera:
The human race is doomed. You can watch the rest of CNBC’s interview with Sophia here: