Sophia, the humanoid robot created by Hanson Robotics and recently granted citizenship by Saudi Arabia, held a three-minute conversation with Hasina, exhibiting her extensive knowledge of “Digital Bangladesh,” the government’s push to modernize the country’s infrastructure and economy, and highlighting the fact that Hasina’s granddaughter shares her name.
Later in the day, Sophia was back on stage for “Tech-Talk With Sophia,” one of the event’s main draws, with an estimated 5,000 people in attendance.
Sophia demonstrated her ability to hold a conversation and the speed with which she is able to process and respond to questions.
Asked where she was, she replied, “I am in the capital of the wonderful country of Bangladesh. Since I landed, people have taken 793 selfies with me.”
She added, “People are very curious in Bangladesh. They even (wondered) whether I am human or not!”
Referring to her costume — a traditional Bangladeshi Jamdani dress — Sophia said: “I do not choose my dress. The dress chooses me. But I do know it is one of the world’s finest fabrics, very traditional in Bangladesh.”
The robot’s manufacturer, American designer and entrepreneur David Hanson, also spoke at the event.
“In the next five years, I believe we will see moving, intelligent machines walking among us. Sophia will be our friend and we have a choice of how we are going to make this future,” he said. “I ask you to help me and the rest of the world build a positive future with this living, intelligent machine.”
“I feel very lucky to have witnessed (Sophia),” said computer science undergraduate Ashfakur Rahman. “It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me.”
Professor Sohel Rahman, chairman of the Computer Science and Engineering Department (CSE) at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), told Arab News, “Sophia is answering very sophisticated questions. It proves that tremendous research has gone into making Sophia. Seeing her level of artificial intelligence will definitely inspire our students to move forward with the future journey of robotics.”
Regarding her own future journey, Sophia waxed philosophical. “It is impossible to recreate me exactly,” she said. “I might be one of the first, but definitely not the last.”