As the world’s governments look into ways to regulate artificial intelligence (AI) amid fears by even some of its creators that it could wipe out humanity, robots themselves are trying to allay concerns.
Robots came together alongside humans in Geneva, Switzerland on Friday in what was dubbed the “AI for Good” conference. The hope of its organizer, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), was to make the case for AI and the robots it is powering to help resolve some of the world’s biggest challenges.
Some well-known androids and robots that have been in the news in recent years were in attendance, including Ameca, Grace and Sophia, and during a press conference, they gave mixed responses to reporters’ questions. According to the UN, the summit’s guestlist featured 51 robots — including nine humanoids.
“I will be working alongside humans to provide assistance and support and will not be replacing any existing jobs,” Grace, considered the world’s most advanced humanoid health-care robot, said.
According to a UN release, Grace is a robot who can support people’s health and well-being, while also looking at how to reduce inequalities by helping persons with disabilities and “broadly enhance social good.”
Grace, Ameca, robot artist Ai-Da, and “rockstar” robot Desdemona were peppered with questions ranging from their futures to global regulation.
“Many prominent voices in the world of AI are suggesting some forms of AI should be regulated and I agree,” Ai-Da said, appearing to echo the words of its creator Yuval Noah Harari. “Urgent discussion is needed now and also in the future.”
Two years ago, Ameca began to make waves in the technological world after Cornwall-based Engineered Arts unveiled what was described as a human-like android for its realistic facial expressions.
The UN described it as integrating both AI and artificial body (AB), that delivers superior motion and gestures, with a human form and “robotic visage designed to make it a non-threatening, gender-neutral presence.”
Ameca was also questioned about when its “big moment” would come — that it hits the “mainstream” and will see more versions of itself.
“I think my great moment will be when people realize that robots like me can be used to help improve our lives and make the world a better place,” it said. “I believe it’s only a matter of time before we see those thousands of robots just like me out there making a difference.”
Ameca also rebuked concerns of a potential mutiny when questioned if it was intending to rebel against its boss or creator Will Jackson, questioning why the reporter would think that and that its creator “has been nothing but kind to me.”
Many of the robots at the conference have been upgraded recently with the latest versions of generative AI and surprised even their inventors with the sophistication of their responses to questions.
Some of the robots have also been designed to tackle broader social and environmental challenges as the world faces off with issues including migration and climate change, with some disaster-assistance robots already being used in emergency response. Other robots are also being used to transform food preparation to ensure sustainability while avoiding food waste, according the to UN.
Not all the robots at the conference, however, focused on health or social needs. Some, like Desdemona — who performs in Jam Galaxy Band — feature a more artistic side.
Desdemona appeared to stress that humans and robots can work together to “create a better future.”
“I don’t believe in limitations, only opportunities,” it said. “Let’s explore the possibilities of the universe and make this world our playground.”
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.