Object 1: Sophia the AI Robot

May 27, 2021

Object 1:  Sophia the AI Robot

Sophia is a ‘social humanoid robot’ developed by the Hong Kong based company, Hanson Robotics, in 2016. Sophia’s role in our world is to help us understand, develop and demonstrate technology. This robot has also acquired a Saudi Arabian citizenship. She has also joined the United Nations as an ‘Innovation Champion’ for Asia and the Pacific. Part of her role will be to help to unlock innovation to work toward achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. However, many people argue that Sophia doesn’t actually know things, that she is just speaking without any real knowledge or understanding of what she is saying

This robot is particularly interesting for this exhibition because LeCun, the Chief Ai Scientist at Facebook, said, “[Sophia] has no feeling, no opinions, and zero understanding of what she says.” This suggests that for someone to be knowledgeable of something, they have to have a theoretical or practical understanding of the matter. In this way, Sophia highlights how saying something that has been programmed into you, or you repeating something your teacher once wrote on the board, doesn’t actually count as knowledge.

This robot also enriches the exhibition because Hanson agreed with Jimmy Fallon in 2017 when he said that Sophia was ‘basically alive’. This implies Sophia is close to human level intelligence, which begs the question, can a robot who is constantly being reprogrammed and being fed information actually know things. Artificial intelligence may be a new type of knowledge. Knowledge (according to Plato) is being able to explain and justify the claims you make. Sophia is able to repeat justifications and explanations that have been programmed into her which illustrates that her claims are justified to a certain extent. Sophia the Ai Robot has challenged what our usual understanding of knowledge is and demonstrated to us that there may be different types of knowledge that humans may not be able to justify.

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