Recently, Sofia has been trending all across the technical news. She is rather interesting: has soft skin, no hair, beautiful eyes, deep voice, knows so much, but is barely able to rationalize. Sofia is a robot developed by Hanson Robotics, and she recently became a hype after receiving Saudi Citizenship. What is interesting about Sofia is a rather scary video that, unless it was scripted, highlights advancements in robotics that raise an alarm.
So what can we make out of this?
One simple conclusion: the technology to develop emotional, rational, and aware robots is here. And that should not be a surprise, the mathematics and science behind this have been around for a long while now: The mathematical basis for machine learning has been around since the 1950s. But now we have the right tools to actually develop Cognitive machines.
There exist now out there many technologies and tools that can easily form the building blocks of such a machine. IBM Watson can help you build a Cognitive assistant on the cloud. Watson has APIs available that allow you to deploy such a robot within weeks. With a combination of Personality Insights, Tone Analyzer, and your custom Machine Learning Model, you can develop a Chat-bot that understands emotions. As for a Rational Machine, that is not difficult at all, with tools such as Natural Language Understanding, Natural Language Classifier, Watson Knowledge Studio, and Discovery, it is possible to make sense of a conversation and the context, and respond from a vast pool of knowledge.
IBM is not the only player in this field: Microsoft, Google, and Amazon each have their solutions. Not only that but with the rise of Frameworks such as Tensorflow and H2O into the mainstream, and with the advent of GPU acceleration, the idea of a sophisticated AI is attainable by the very common human.
The only challenge remaining for AI engineers is achieving awareness, and that remains a challenge that gives rise to many ethical dilemmas. However, as long as machines are used to support humans and improve their performance, then you should not worry about a robot taking your job.