Written by Stephy Chung, CNNHong Kong
This story is part of "Smart Creativity," a series exploring the intersection between high-concept design and advanced technology.The field of robotics is fast-growing. Robots can now perform complicated movements with elegance — back-flipping, practicing parkour moves, even "carving" classical sculptures.
Then there's Sophia, a robot whose widespread appeal lies not in big, dramatic actions (her torso is often fixed to a rolling base), but rather an unsettling human-like appearance, compounded with the complex ability to express emotions.
"We're not fully there yet, but Sophia can represent a number of emotional states, and she can also see emotional expressions on a human face as well," explains David Hanson, the founder of Hanson Robotics.
The firm has developed a number of Sophias at their small research and design laboratory in Hong Kong, where parts and pieces of Sophia 20, 21 and 22 remain strewn across the facility.
Meet Sophia: The robot who smiles and frowns just like us
According to Hanson, Sophia now has simulations of every major muscle in the human face, allowing her to generate expressions of joy, grief, curiosity, confusion, contemplation, sorrow, frustration, among other feelings.
"In some of the work we're doing, she will see your expressions and sort of match a little bit and also try to understand in her own way, what it is you might be feeling," says Hanson.
New technologies have enabled Sophia, a robot developed by Hanson Robotics, to generate an astounding number of human-like facial expressions. Credit: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Besides deep learning and a pre-programmed set of expressions, Sophia's face is constructed using the latest developments in material technology, meaning it appears softer, more supple and therefore, more realistic. The lab also studies the neurobiology and biology of human facial expressions to help inform how mechanical ones can behave.
"She is a tool for science in studying human to human interaction, and she's now a platform for allowing AI to express natural-like human emotional state(s), which is something we're developing. True emotive AI," says Hanson.
When Hanson first began sculpting Sophia, he wanted her form to resonate with people from around the world. To that end, he looked to old statues of Nefertiti, ancient Chinese paintings, Audrey Hepburn and even his wife as inspiration. But he also wanted to maintain something of a robot sensibility, too.
"It was very important that she represent this intersection of humanity and technology, with the intuitive idea that technology can enhance humanity, help us actualize to higher states of being," says Hanson.
"At the same time, (technology can) provoke these questions: What does it mean to be human? What is real, what isn't real? What is the reality of our future which does not yet exist?"
Sophia on stage at the RISE Technology conference in Hong Kong. Credit: ISAAC LAWRENCE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Since her activation in 2016, Sophia has since graced the covers of fashion publications and starred in a recent Moncler campaign. During an event at Shanghai Fashion Weekend, Sophia wore 3-D copper arm cuffs and sculptural garments designed by British artist Sadie Clayton.
"The reason I was interested in working with Sophia is because being an artist, it fuses fashion, art and technology. This was the most natural, organic way of me developing my process," says Clayton.
"I think she is so stunning in her right. And the expressions that she gives, it's a really beautiful, warm feeling."
Sophia, a robot created by Hanson Robotics, was named by United Nations Development Programme as its first non-human Innovation Champion in November 2017. Credit: PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Besides modeling, she has made appeared on talk shows and spoken at conferences about issues ranging from artificial intelligence to the role of robots. Controversially, she was even granted Saudi Arabian citizenship, becoming the first robot to have a nationality.
"She's the one robot of the dozens of robots I have designed, that has become really internationally famous," says Hanson.
"I don't know what it is about Sophia, that speaks to people, but I hope that we can develop our AI and robots in a way that makes a deep emotional connection."
Watch the video above to find out more about Hanson Robotics.
Pope issues new rules on reporting sexual abuse
The new rules require all Catholic dioceses around the world to have a “public and accessible” syste..
The new rules require all Catholic dioceses around the world to have a "public and accessible" system in place for reporting abuse by June 1, 2020.The new norms cover internal Catholic Church procedure, not the issue of reporting abuse or cover-up to civil authorities, and represent a top-down imposition which must be followed by all dioceses.Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Vatican's top investigator of sex abuse, told CNN that the new rules add a layer of accountability for church leaders."First of all that leadership is not above the law," Scicluna said, "and second that leadership needs to know, all of us in leadership we need to know, that if the people love the Church they're going to denounce us when we do something wrong."Most dioceses in the US and Europe already have these systems, and the new norms will likely be more important in countries where there are not already well-established guidelines for reporting and handling sexual abuse.Under the new rules, investigations into credible reports of sexual abuse must be completed within 90 days, and a no-retaliation clause protects the person reporting abuse from tit-for-tat claims or obligations for them to keep quiet.Top Vatican official Cardinal Marc Ouellet told the Vatican's in-house newspaper the mandatory reporting requirement was the most important element in the new rules.Ouellet told Osservatore Romano that it's significant that "besides the abuses on the minors and on the vulnerable adults that the harassment or violence of abuse of power also be reported."For decades the Catholic Church has been plagued by a series of sex abuse scandals in different countries around the world.The new norms follow a global meeting on sex abuse at the Vatican in February and represent Pope Francis' pledge to offer "concrete measures" to combat sexual abuse.There has not previously been a uniform, universal system in the Catholic Church for reporting and investigating allegations of abuse.The new rules were set out in an Apostolic letter, called a "Motu Proprio," issued personally by Pope Francis, which calls for a three-year trial period for the initiative.Although the norms represent an important clarification of procedures to be followed, they do not deal with the question of what happens to a priest or bishop who breaks these rules.To date, no church official has been publicly sanctioned for cover-up, and a lack of accountability is something that survivors have been concerned about for years. After Bishop Robert Finn, the formerly the head of a Kansas City diocese, was convicted of failing to report child abuse in 2012, advocates for abuse survivorsRead More – Source
At least 41 people killed after Russian plane crash lands
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Socialist party wins in Spain despite far-right surge
The far-right Vox party — which takes a hardline on immigration and gender rights — won 24 out of a ..
The far-right Vox party — which takes a hardline on immigration and gender rights — won 24 out of a total 350 seats, after bursting onto Spain's political scene last year.In an election with 75.8% turnout, the governing PSOE took 123 seats, and will now seek the support of other parties to form a government, having fallen short of an overall majority.Spanish politics is fragmenting further, as PSOE's traditional rivals, the conservative People's Party (PP) won 66 seats, down from 137 in 2016's election.For years Spain was governed by the PP or PSOE, but Podemos, Ciudadanos and Vox have emerged in recent years, shaking up the two-party established order.A total of 176 seats is required to control parliament, and neither the leftist nor the right-leaning bloc won the required amount. Center-right Ciudadanos won 57 seats while left-wing Unidas Podemos won 35.With more than 98% of the vote counted the PSOE was declared winner by Spanish government spokeswoman Isabel Celaá Diéguez.Incumbent PSOE Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez addressed supporters outside the party headquarters in Madrid after the result was confirmed."After 11 years a socialist party has won the general election in Spain. And so the future beats the past," he said as the PSOE gained 38 seats more than in 2016."We have sent a message to Europe and to the world, that we can win over authoritarianism."
Sanchez to negotiate a deal
Spain is the only country in western Europe that has never been governed by a coalition government, though recent years have seen minority governments shored up by parliamentary alliances.A new government could include the Basque Nationalist Party, known as PNV, or the Catalan separatists that forced the elections in the first place after refusing to support Sanchez's 2019 budget in February.Analyst Jose Torreblanca of the European Council on Foreign Relations told CNN the PSOE and Ciudadanos are the winners of the election, while the PP suffered a "complete defeat" as a "divided right wing committed suicide."Albert Rivera, leader of Ciudadanos, said "the bad news today is that Sanchez will govern with Podemos and the separatists … but there is a project with a future in Ciudadanos."Rivera promised his followers that the party will govern soon."Ciudadanos has risen as the hope and the future of Spain," he added, after the party won 25 more seats than in 2016.PP leader Pablo Casado congratulated Sanchez for his victory and said he hoped his rival "would be able to govern without the support of the Catalan separatists."Sanchez could agree a deal with Podemos or Ciudadanos, according to Torreblanca.Pablo Iglesias, leader of Unidas PodemosRead More – Source
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