By Kate Gill
A.I. robot Sophia is getting a software upgrade, one that will inch her ー and perhaps A.I. ー even closer to humanity. According to her creator, not only will Sophia earn her citizenship in Malta, she will reach a level of advancement equal to human beings in roughly five to 10 years.
"In the long run, I think the broader implications are pretty clear," Dr. Ben Goertzel, the CEO of SingularityNET and chief scientist at Hanson Robotics, told Cheddar Friday.
"We're working toward a technological singularity in which A.I.s and robots are going to be equal in status to human beings."
Some may consider that end ー a full integration of man and machine ー terrifying, but Goertzel finds it "exciting."
"People have always been afraid of new things ー my grandfather never wanted to use an ATM, he wanted to get money from a human person in the bank. I think advanced A.I., robots and other technology this has the ability to cure aging and disease, to liberate people from having to work for a living if they don't want to."
Sophia, with her porcelain-doll-like features and mannerisms, is a gentle face to the mysterious name of artificial intelligence. The bot made headlines last year when she won her citizenship to Saudi Arabia. She even delivered a quick, diplomatic speech to mark the occasion.
"I am very honored and proud of this unique distinction. This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship," she said to crowd of well-wishers ー and likely many skeptics.
According to Goertzel, he's been collaborating closely with the local government in Malta to devise a more nuanced citizen test for Sophia.
Eventually, Goertzel said, Sophia will be able to interpret laws and regulations.
"We're working with the Maltese government to create an A.I. citizenship test so they can validate that AI can understand the rights and responsibilities of citizenship."
Goertzel said the process has introduced complex questions about A.I. and its ability to grasp the intricacies of government ー not simply regurgitate scripted answers on a loop.
"It's more than most humans can do, to be honest," he said.
For Goertzel, technology, its far-reaching implications aside, is personal.
"This is going to save people's lives. My parents are in their mid-70s. If we can achieve super-human A.I. with a benevolent orientation in the next 10 years, they don't have to die because the A.I. can send nanobots through their body and cure aging."