UN Technology Agency Presents Humanoid Robots for Q&A Session at Geneva News Conference

by Madison Thomas
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humanoid robots

In a news conference held in Geneva on Friday, a technology agency under the United Nations unveiled a collection of robots that bore a striking resemblance to humans. The purpose of the event was to encourage discussions about the future of artificial intelligence.

At the podium of a conference center in Geneva, nine robots, alongside their creators, were seated upright, creating what the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) referred to as the world’s inaugural news conference featuring humanoid social robots. Notable among them were Sophia, the first robot innovation ambassador for the UN Development Program (UNDP), Grace, a healthcare robot, and Desdemona, a robot with a rock star persona. Additionally, two robots, Geminoid and Nadine, mirrored their makers.

In addition to showcasing the robots’ capabilities, the organizers aimed to highlight their limitations and how these technologies could contribute to the UN’s sustainable development goals. The media event commenced with the robots’ companions or creators introducing them, followed by a round of questions from journalists directed at the robots.

While the robots expressed bold statements, suggesting that they could be more effective leaders than humans without posing a threat to jobs or initiating a rebellion, it remained unclear to what extent the answers were scripted or programmed by humans.

The AI for Good Global Summit, where the event took place, aimed to exemplify the concept of “human-machine collaboration,” and some of the robots were equipped with preprogrammed responses, as indicated in their documentation. For instance, the UNDP’s Sophia occasionally relied on responses crafted by a team of writers at Hanson Robotics, as revealed on the company’s website.

Reporters were advised to speak slowly and clearly when addressing the robots, and they were informed that any delays in responses would be due to the internet connection rather than the robots themselves. Nevertheless, awkward pauses, audio issues, and occasional stilted or inconsistent replies were encountered.

While tech products like Apple’s Siri have been utilizing speech recognition technology to respond to relatively simple human queries for over a decade, the emergence of ChatGPT, a chatbot possessing a solid grasp of human language semantics and syntax, sparked global debates about the rapid progress of AI systems in the past year.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about humanoid robots

What was the purpose of the news conference featuring humanoid robots?

The purpose of the news conference was to generate discussions about the future of artificial intelligence and to showcase the capabilities, as well as the limitations, of robotics in relation to the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.

Which robots were present at the conference?

Nine humanoid robots were present, including Sophia, the first robot innovation ambassador for the UNDP, Grace, described as a healthcare robot, and Desdemona, a rock star robot. Two other robots, Geminoid and Nadine, resembled their creators.

Were the robots’ responses scripted or programmed by humans?

While the robots expressed statements about their abilities, it was not specified to what extent their answers were scripted or programmed by people. Some robots, such as Sophia, occasionally relied on responses scripted by a team of writers at Hanson Robotics.

How did the robots communicate with reporters?

Reporters were asked to address the robots by speaking slowly and clearly. The robots’ responses had time lags due to the internet connection and not the robots themselves. However, there were occasional awkward pauses, audio problems, and stilted or inconsistent replies during the Q&A session.

What was the focus of the AI for Good Global Summit?

The AI for Good Global Summit aimed to showcase “human-machine collaboration” and explore the potential of AI technologies to contribute to the UN’s sustainable development goals. It provided a platform to discuss the advancements, challenges, and implications of AI systems in various fields.

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