Strike a pose Sophia! Giulio Di Sturco became the first photographer to step into Hanson Robotics, the lab that gave the world the robotic marvel Sophia in 2016. The robot with its advanced AI features and aspects has been shooting for the stars ever since its release. It was designed to display a wide range of emotions and behaviour which closely resembled those exhibited by humans. Consequently, it has continuously been proving its excellence in TV shows and interviews.
For photographer Giulio Di Sturco however, seeing Sophia at press events, promotions and interviews wasn’t enough. He wanted to explore the robot’s place of creation too. Provided with an opportunity, his understanding of the place and Sophia deepened. He admitted that he felt strange looking at the way she, as a robot, behaved. He said, “At one point, I realized I was even speaking with her. I had to step back and realize that she was a robot, not a human being.”
He was also surprised to see how marvelously she had been programmed to adapt to anything she encountered. He observed these amazing characteristics at her photo shoot. He noticed that it was difficult for the first few days as she couldn’t recognize the camera but later, she adapted to the whole scenario. He said, “I don’t know if the engineer put something in the software, or if she went online and did some research, but she started to pose.”
Since its creation, Sophia has been often termed as one of the smartest robots ever created. No robots have yet achieved this level of artificial general intelligence (AGI), or versatile human-like smarts. However, AI researchers have also criticized media outlets for overselling her capabilities and for showing more than she is. Sophia’s creators argue in turn that her expressiveness, her ability to sense someone’s emotion from the tone of their voice and to mirror people’s postures and facial movements is a major scientific breakthrough. Complex deep neural networks along with its flexible rubber skin allows the robot to perform all these tasks.
All these aspects made it a once in a lifetime experience for Di Sturco to shoot Sophia. For him, she was a subject capable of looking either very emotional or completely devoid of life. “She started to look at me and smile, and I looked at her, and at that point for me, she was not human, but there was kind of a connection,” he says. “You kind of get out of the lab, the future, and you realize something crazy: There is something there in Sophia.”
To be able to create a robot like her is a major feat. The world has never seen a robot with the kind of abilities she has. Her normal human behaviour in her appearances on television and her getting the citizenship of a country stresses enough on the fact that she is the most intelligent robot ever created.