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Young learners amazed by humanoid Sophia during workshop in Bryanston

BRYANSTON – Roboticist David Hanson and humanoid Sophia shared how humans can use artificial intelligence in the future.


Learners from schools around Johannesburg had the opportunity to meet humanoid Sophia during a workshop in Bryanston.

About 200 learners were invited to attend the workshop about the Fourth Industrial Revolution and how intelligent machines will play a role in society in the future. Learners shared their excitement as Sophia engaged in conversations with various people during the workshop.

In conversation with host Candice Modiselle, Sophia shared how her flight to South Africa had been unpleasant because she had spent 16 hours in a box. Sophia, who was wearing a dress by South Africa designer, Fred Eboka, added that she thinks she now understands ‘ the human concept of vanity’.

Sharmla Chetty, the president of Duke Corporate Education in Africa said she hopes to give every learner hope and inspiration for the future and learn about what they can expect in the future and how they can enter new fields to adapt.

Sophia was created by David Hanson from Hanson Robotics and is able to display a range of facial expressions, recognise people and have unscripted conversations. Hanson said that many people are sceptical about artificial intelligence and believe that robots will create even more unemployment in the future, however, he said they can improve life.

David Hanson, the creator of Sophia, highlights how many facial expressions she can display. Photo: Laura Pisanello

Hanson explained that he spent a lot of time working on Sophia to first create a face that would be as human-like as possible. He explained that the market has seen a huge boom over the past few years and people are already interacting with intelligent technologies such as virtual assistants or self-parking cars.

“We need to use AI for good, we need to make sure that we use AI in jobs that are impossible for people or bad for us. In some cases, there are jobs where people could get killed and in other cases jobs are just tedious or boring. Wouldn’t it be better if we used the massive abundance of AI to free up people to be more creative and follow our dreams,” said Hanson.

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