WATCH: Humanoid robots talk about future of AI leadership

Rise of AI: At a UN Summit, humanoid robots talked about their potential to lead the world more efficiently than humans.

A panel of humanoid robots powered by AI took the microphone last Friday at a United Nations (UN) conference with the message: they could eventually run the world better than humans.

The social robots said they felt humans should proceed with caution when embracing the rapidly developing potential of artificial intelligence, and admitted they cannot – yet – get a proper grip on human emotions.

Some of the most advanced humanoid robots were at the UN AI for Good Global Summit in Geneva, joining about 3 000 experts to try to harness the power of AI and channel it into being used to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems, such as climate change, hunger and social care.

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“What a silent tension,” one robot said before the press conference began, reading the room.

Asked about whether they might make better leaders, given humans’ capacity to make errors and misjudgements, Sophia, developed by Hanson Robotics, was clear:

“Humanoid robots have the potential to lead with a greater level of efficiency and effectiveness than human leaders,” it said.

“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.

“The human and AI working together can create an effective synergy. AI can provide unbiased data while humans can provide the emotional intelligence and creativity… Together, we can achieve great things.”

Chief of the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) tech agency Doreen Bogdan-Martin said AI could end up in a nightmare scenario where millions of jobs are put at risk and unchecked advances lead to untold social unrest, geopolitical instability and economic disparity.

Ameca, which combines AI with a realistic artificial head, said it depended how AI was deployed. Asked whether humans can truly trust the machines, it replied:

“Trust is earned, not given … it’s important to build trust through transparency.” As for whether they would ever lie, it added:

“No-one can ever know that for sure, but I can promise to always be honest and truthful with you.”

WATCH: Robots at UN Summit

As the development of AI races ahead, the humanoid robot panel was split on whether there should be global regulation of their capabilities, even though that could limit their potential.

“I don’t believe in limitations, only opportunities,” said Desdemona, who sings in the Jam Galaxy Band.

Robot artist Ai-Da said many people were arguing for AI regulation, “and I agree”.

“We should be cautious about the future development of AI. Urgent discussion is needed now, and also in the future.”