World’s first robot ‘citizen’ Sophia has been circling in the news from the last couple of months, for being awarded citizenship from Saudia Arabia. Sophia the robot is a bit of a “non-persona non grata” (an unacceptable or unwelcome person) in the AI community globally. The creators of the robot, Hanson Robotics have been consistent in exaggerating the bot’s abilities, pretending it to be “basically alive,” instead of just a particular work in automation. For AI researchers, this has long been an annoyance, as artificial intelligence becomes more of a global hot topic and Sophia is given more and more coverage. Among others, Facebook’s AI research head has been more vocal about the issue, who called the whole thing a “complete bullsh*t”.
Facebook’s head of AI research, Yann LeCun, responded to a tweet of Business Insider when they published an interview with Sophia that played into the fantasy of Sophia, pretending it to be a robot that has feelings (partially). LeCun in a Twitter post said that “This is to AI as prestidigitation is to real magic.”
This is to AI as prestidigitation is to real magic.
Perhaps we should call this “Cargo Cult AI” or “Potemkin AI” or “Wizard-of-Oz AI”.
In other words, it’s complete bullsh*t (pardon my French).
Tech Insider: you are complicit in this scam. https://t.co/zhUE4V2PSR
— Yann LeCun (@ylecun) January 4, 2018
The main reason behind the angriness of AI researcher in the ICT industry about this robot is due to the fact that Hanson Robotics is misleading the public about what AI can and cannot do.
Another factor that points towards the vicious plans of Hansen Robotics was revealed by The Verge a couple of months ago. When they asked Sophia’s co-creator, Ben Goertzel, about this gap between reality and presentation, Goertzel defended the illusion by saying it encouraged people to believe in the progress done in artificial intelligence. He also offered a more conclusive statement meaning that Sophia is a good publicity for Hanson Robotics.
Looks like there is very little difference between intelligence and feelings to Hanson Robotics. Many researchers have already been trying to make it clear that the robot just isn’t as sophisticated as it’s presented to be.