Watch: Are impressive AI robots ready to replace humans?

Reuters United Arab Emirates Oct 19, 2018, 06.15 PM(IST)

AI robots impressive but not yet ready to replace humans Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Even though robotics technologies have developed at a phenomenal rate over the past years, there remain many aspects such as decision-making where they are still lacking.

Even though robotics technologies have developed at a phenomenal rate over the past years, there remain many aspects such as decision-making where they are still lacking.

This year's Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) Technology Week in Dubai highlights a series of cutting-edge robots. Sophia, the celebrity humanoid robot and the world's first humanoid citizen, was also participating in the event.

Sophia, developed by Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics, made her first public appearance in March 2016. She has participated in many high-profile interviews, talk shows and movies and gone viral due to her human-like interactions. Some of the visitors at this year's GITEX exhibition were in for a treat as they were able to interact with her and ask her questions.

A reporter for China Central Television (CCTV) was one of the few to be able to interview the smart humanoid robot. He would quickly find out that Sophia can not only hold her own in an interview but also has a sense of humour. When questioned whether she knew that she was very famous, Sophia quick-wittedly replied by saying "I heard I was famous. I asked the boss for my own smartphone so that I could follow myself online. Still waiting for them to get back to me."

Sophia was granted Saudi Arabian citizenship in 2017, which made her the first robot to receive citizenship of any country. She has been to Dubai on many occasions prior to this year's GITEX exhibition.

"Dubai is an amazing city. Every time I come here, the technology gets more impressive. It's like a sci-fi movie so I feel right at home," she said.

"GITEX has so many robots I can make friends with. I'd love to say hi to them all," she added.

Although she impressed visitors with witty and humorous responses, Sophia had a harder time interacting with the "pharmacist", a robot that can deliver drugs to patients depending on the doctor's prescriptions or the patient's condition. Sophia was tasked to describe her symptoms to the "pharmacist" so that it can provide her with the appropriate medicines. But, she was quite confused and wasn't able to give an answer when asked if she had a fever.

The fact that the smartest social humanoid robot developed couldn't attain the simple task of describing her feelings reignited the long debate about how robots will never be able to replace humans. As one exhibitor said, robots can outperform humans in areas such as precision and speed but still have a long way to go in conducting high-level intelligent activities like the decision-making process.

Various speciality-robots such as pianist, bartender, basketball player, also drew lots of attention at the exhibition.

The Technology Week also features the GITEX Future Stars, where innovations of more than 850 startups and enterprises from over 75 countries and regions are on display. The GITEX has been held annually since 1981 and this year marks the 38th edition of the event. The exhibition closed on Thursday.