Full disclosure: This has nothing to do with HTM specifically, but I wanted to discuss this with the HTM community because it seems to be a very relevant topic in the AI world.
Perhaps you’ve seen Hanson Robotics before. They made a robot with chatbot-like capabilities that they call “Sophia” who is getting a lot of attention in the media. Their website states:
Hanson Robotics has enchanted and captured the imagination of the world with uncannily humanlike robots endowed with remarkable expressiveness, aesthetics, and interactivity. Our robots will soon engage and live with us to teach, serve, entertain, delight, and provide comforting companionship. In the not-too-distant future, Genius Machines will walk among us. They will be smart, kind, and wise. Together, man and machine will create a better future for the world.
I understand they are a company trying to make a product. But the claims they make seem irresponsible, manipulative and delusional. They’ve gone so far as to grant citizenship to “Sophia” and mention the “rise of the robots has started.”
You may say it’s all in good fun to do this. Such as joking about “death to humans” and other popular topics in sci-fi AI interpretations. You may say it’s not harming anybody but I disagree. Aside from being totally delusional (Hanson Robotics’ founder said Sophia is “basically alive” when presented on Jimmy Fallon’s late night talk show) they are lying to the general public who don’t know any better. I’ve seen hundreds of thousands of people online taking Hanson Robotics’ claims to heart and genuinely fearing AI as a result. They’re bloating up fears born of ignorance in the general public and setting up the stage to harm real AI science in the future. We all know AI acceptance is a huge issue already and it’s only going to get worse as actual AI gets more sophisticated.
Sentience and aliveness are very poorly and vaguely defined terms even in AI. What makes a robot alive? Who knows. Hanson Robotics seems to be abusing that gray area, though. To jump the gun like this on a chatbot with a barely human-like face that is definitely resting at the bottom of “uncanny valley” seems dishonest and de-legitimizes actual AI research which looks nothing like this.
Sorry if this seems like a rant; just wanted to get my thoughts out.