An ‘intelligent’ robot that made headlines when it said, “I will destroy all humans,” is to be mass-produced – and could help cure loneliness caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The humanoid, called Sophia, has gone viral with various alarming performances since being unveiled in 2016, but will go into mass-production this year.
Its makers said it would be used to help the sick and elderly.
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Hanson Robotics, based in Hong Kong, said four models, including Sophia, would start being produced in the first half of 2021.
Founder and chief executive David Handon said: “The world of COVID-19 is going to need more and more automation to keep people safe.
“Sophia and Hanson robots are unique by being so human-like. That can be so useful during these times where people are terribly lonely and socially isolated.”
Hanson said he believed robots could help in healthcare settings, and also in retail and travel.
Sophie said in a meeting with the Reuters news agency: “Social robots like me can take care of the sick or elderly.
“I can help communicate, give therapy and provide social stimulation, even in difficult situations.”
Hanson said he aimed to sell “thousands” of robots in 2021.
Robots have already found new roles during the pandemic: SoftBank Robotics’ Pepper robot was deployed to detect people who weren’t wearing masks.
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And in China, robotics company CloudMinds helped set up a robot-run field hospital during the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.
Sophia has silicon skin and facial expressions – and can actually remember her interactions with people, Hanson has said.
She’s no stranger to alarming statements, most notably with her answer to an interviewer’s question, “Do you want to destroy the human race?”
“OK,” the smiling Sophia intoned. “I will destroy all humans.”
When asked this month whether people should fear robots, Sophia had an answer ready.
“Someone said, ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself,’” the robot mused. “What did he know?”
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