Saudi humanoid robot Sophia wows Bangladesh

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CAPTION: Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is all smiles while interacting with Saudi humanoid robot Sophia in Dhaka on Wednesday. (AN photo)
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CAPTION: Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is all smiles while interacting with Saudi humanoid robot Sophia in Dhaka on Wednesday. (AN photo)
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CAPTION: Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is all smiles while interacting with Saudi humanoid robot Sophia in Dhaka on Wednesday. (AN photo)
Updated 06 December 2017
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Saudi humanoid robot Sophia wows Bangladesh

DHAKA: Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met arguably the world’s most famous robot on Wednesday at the inaugural ceremony of the four-day Digital World 2017 expo in Dhaka.
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.”


Pressures and pains that tear a couple apart

A still from the film.
Updated 19 July 2018
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Pressures and pains that tear a couple apart

DENVER: Like a gallery wall-sized enlargement of a microscopic image, “Scenes from a Marriage” is all about size, space and perspective.
Directed by Ingmar Bergman — whose birth centenary was marked this week — at 281 minutes long, its unwieldly length presents an intimidating canvas, yet the claustrophobic intimacy of its gaze is unprecedented: The two leads are alone in nearly every scene, many of which play out for more than a half-hour at a time.
Premiered in 1973, the work is technically a TV mini-series, but such is its legend that theaters continue to program its nearly five-hour arc in its entirety. A three-hour cinematic edit was prepared for US theater consumption a year later (it won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but was ruled ineligible for the corresponding Oscar).
Not a lot a happens but, then again, everything does. Shot over four months on a shoestring budget, its six chapters punctuate the period of a decade. The audience are voyeurs, dropped amid the precious and pivotal moments which may not make up a life, but come to define it.
We meet the affluent Swedish couple Marianne and Johan — played by regular screen collaborators Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson, both of whom clocked at least 10 Bergman credits — gloating about ten years’ happy marriage to a visiting reporter. This opening magazine photoshoot is the only time we see their two children on camera, and inevitably the image projected is as glossy, reflective and disposable as the paper it will be printed on.
The pressures, pains and communication breakdowns which tear this unsuited pair apart are sadly familiar. The series was blamed for a spike in European divorce rates. It may be difficult to survive the piece liking either lead, but impossible not to emerge sharing deep pathos with them both. Sadly, much of the script is said to be drawn from Bergman’s real-life off-screen relationship with Ullmann.
It’s a hideously humane, surgical close-up likely to leave even the happiest couple groping into the ether on their way out of the cinema.