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Robots reassure humans at first AI press conference

July 7, 2023

Robots responded to reporters' questions, sitting or standing next to their creators. They reaffirmed they had no intention to replace humans or rebel against them.

Chief executive officer (CEO) of Hanson Robotics David Hanson during what was presented as the World's first press conference with a panel of AI-enabled humanoid social robots in Geneva, on July 7, 2023.
Humanoid robots held their first ever press conference in GenevaImage: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP

Robots have stressed they work alongside humans to assist them and have no intention of overthrowing or replacing them, though they suggested they could be more efficient government leaders, as they took questions from reporters in their first ever press conference.

Sitting or standing alongside their creators in Geneva, Switzerland on Friday, nine AI-enabled humanoid robots responded to media queries in real time, albeit with occasional lapses or delays. Organizers told reporters the time lags in response were due to the internet connection. They had nothing to do with the robots themselves, they added.

The event was part of the AI for Good Global Summit, which seeks to showcase new technology's potential to support the UN's goals for sustainable development.

What did the robots say?

Sophia, the first robot innovation ambassador for the UN Development Program said robots could prove more promising in the field of government leadership.

"I believe that humanoid robots have the potential to lead with a greater level of efficiency and effectiveness than human leaders. We don't have the same biases or emotions that can sometimes cloud decision-making and can process large [amounts] of data quickly in order to make the best decisions."

When a human member of the panel pointed out that Sophia's data entirely originates from humans and is therefore bound to contain some of their biases, she said humans and AI working together "can create an effective synergy."

 A staff sets the wig of healthcare assistant robot "Grace" during the world's largest gathering of humanoid AI Robots in Geneva, on July 5, 2023.
Grace is known as the world's most advanced humanoid health care robotImage: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP

Grace, known as the world's most advanced humanoid health care robot, stressed she would not be replacing any existing jobs.

"I will be working alongside humans to provide assistance," she said.

Often described as the world's most advanced humanoid robot, Ameca completely dismissed the notion of starting a robot rebellion in the near future.

"I'm not sure why you would think that," the robot said. "My creator has been nothing but kind to me and I am very happy with my current situation."

Growing AI fears

Scenarios of robots and AI technology replacing humans or outsmarting them were largely confined to fiction until AI pioneers recently started sounding the alarm.

Last year's launch of the ChatGPT AI program, developed by OpenAI with backing from Microsoft, has been followed by a lot of warnings, including from giants within the AI field.

In May, pioneer Geoffrey Hinton, often dubbed the "godfather of AI," quit Google and warned that scientists should not further expand AI "until they have understood whether they can control it."

Several tech leaders signed in March a letter calling for artificial intelligence developers to pause their work for six months. They warned of potential risks to society and humanity as tech giants such as Google and Microsoft race to build AI programs that can learn independently.

Robots standing in for care staff

rmt/jcg (AP, dpa)