UN holds robotics press conference on state of AI

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At the AI ​​for Good 2023 Global Summit, a panel of robots and their creators sat in front of the press to answer reporters’ questions on topics including task automation, artificial intelligence (AI) leadership ) and collaborating with humans for a better future.

The summit was hosted by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the technology agency of the United Nations, in Geneva from July 4-7 and featured a variety of speakers as well as the world’s most advanced androids. The UN called this its first press conference on robots.

A total of nine robots were in attendance, including Sophia, who is the first United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Robot Innovation Ambassador, a robot health service provider named Grace, and a rock star robot named Desdemona.

The bots were able to make solid statements, some of which were pre-programmed responses. Sophia, for example, occasionally relies on scripted responses from a team of writers at Hanson Robotics, according to the company’s website.

At the conference, organizers did not specify how many responses were scripted, although reporters were asked to speak “slowly and clearly” so the bots could process the questions.

When asked if AI-powered robots can govern better than humans, Sophia replied that:

“I believe that humanoid robots have the potential to lead with a higher level of efficiency and effectiveness than human leaders.”

She also said they don’t work with the same biases or emotions that could “cloud decision-making,” as well as processing large amounts of data. Asked about learned biases and collaborating with humans, she said “together we can achieve great things.”

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When asked if humans can trust super-intelligent AI systems, Engineered Arts’ robot Amica replied that “trust is earned, not given” and as AI grows and becomes more powerful, she thinks:

“It’s important to build trust through transparency in communication between humans and machines.”

Her creator asked how we could know she would never lie to humans, she replied, “No one can ever know for sure, but I can promise to always be honest and truthful with you.”

With the rise of AI, rumors and estimates that it will replace human labor in the workforce have become more prevalent. In Italy, the government has even created a fund for at-risk AI replacement workers.

When a reporter asked Grace, the robot serving as a health worker, if she would replace humans, her answer was clear:

“I will work alongside humans to provide assistance and support and will not replace any existing jobs.”

Its creator, Dr. Ben Goertzel, laughed with the whole crowd and asked the robot if she was “sure about this”, to which she reiterated that she was.

Event organizers said the conference was organized to showcase the capabilities and limitations of AI and robotics, and ways in which the two could advance UN goals and “man-machine collaboration”.

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