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Sophia charms PM, VIPs, Dhaka audience at Digital Expo 2017

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FT ONLINE

The world’s first artificially intelligent humanoid robot was greeted by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, VIPs and a capacity audience at the Digital World 2017 exposition in Dhaka on Wednesday.

Sophia, the world’s new sensation, yesterday caught Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by surprise as the humanoid robot readily gave the premier information about her.

Hasina met Sophia at the inaugural ceremony of the four-day-long Digital World at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC).

The robot has generated quite a buzz among the youth and the artificial intelligence industry around the world.

After Hasina’s inaugural speech, the organisers announced that Sophia would be brought to the stage to meet the PM.

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Wearing yellow-white top and skirt, Sophia came on the stage. The PM asked her “Hello Sophia, how are you?”

“Hello honourable prime minister, I am feeling proud. This is very nice to meet you,” Sophia replied.

Hasina wanted to know how she knew her. Sophia said she had read much about the PM and Bangladesh.

“I know you are the daughter of the great leader, Father of The Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. You are also known as the Mother of Humanity in the world and you are implementing the Digital Bangladesh,” Sophia said.

The robot also said it knew it very well that the name of the PM’s granddaughter was also Sophia.

“Yes, the name of Joy’s [prime minister’s son and the ICT adviser] daughter is Sophia,” a smiling Hasina informed the audience.

The premier then asked the robot what she knew about her vision and Digital Bangladesh.

Sophia flawlessly communicated information to the PM about her vision and Digital Bangladesh.

Sophia get Gold Card from Biman

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Biman Bangladesh gave Gold Card to the artificially intelligent robot, Sophia.

Biman has decided to gift the Gold Card under the Biman loyalty Club to celebrate the attraction of the Bangladeshi youth for Sophia, Shakil Meraj, general manager of public relations department of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, said.

Sophia, a Saudi citizen, has arrived in Bangladesh to attend the Digital World Exposition.

As a Gold Card holder of Biman Bangladesh, Sophia will get free tickets from Biman wherever it wants to fly, the Biman official said.

State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak officially handed over the Gold Card to Sophia during her appearance at the inaugural session of the four-day exposition at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre.

“Tech-Talk with Sophia”

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Sophia, the first humanoid robot, accepts a gift – a replica of boat – from State Minister of ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak during the Digital World 2017

Sophia came to Dhaka on Tuesday from Hong Kong to attend the mega ICT event. She interacted with visitors at the expo from 2:30pm to 4:30pm.

A Wednesday afternoon session titled “Tech-Talk with Sophia” was initially supposed to be a Q&A session between Sophia and the audience, but was limited to just a few questions over a 35-minute period due – ironically for a digital expo – to technical issues.

“I am happy to be here in Bangladesh,” said the humanoid, who appeared on stage at the Hall of Fame auditorium of Bangabandhu International Conference Centre wearing a blouse made of traditional Jamdani fabric.

“I am very happy to see the economic growth of your country and you will be able to move forward if you can make more digitalization.”

“I believe that Bangladesh can develop artificially intelligent robots which can contribute to the country’s development,” Sophia said in response to a question from State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak about whether Bangladesh can develop another Sophia.

“I am well aware of Bangladesh’s plan to employ around two million people and to achieve the export target of $5 billion from the digital sector.”

Speaking on the future relationship between artificial intelligence (AI) and humans, Sophia said robots are not harmful and can work together with human beings to move civilization forward.

“It is an era of industrialization and we need robots to work hand in hand with the humans to help them,” Sophia said.

Sophia is a robot with its body shape built to resemble the human body.

Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics Ltd made Sophia. The company says its humanlike robots have remarkable expressiveness, liveliness, and interactivity.

Sophia to get a full form next year

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Dr David Hanson, the creator of Sophia, is on the stage with his creation

 

 

Wednesday’s session was also addressed by Hanson Robotics founder Dr David Hanson, who developed the humanoid.

He said he studied for 23 years in order to develop Sophia, and had taken three years to make the final product.

“Sophia will have her leg in January and will get a complete form in the coming year,” Dr Hanson said.

“We have used open source software to develop Sophia and Bangladeshi developers can also use such software to develop artificial intelligence.

“Africa, Europe, India and China are already working on the development of robots like Sophia and I can see a positive future of intelligent machines in the next five years.”

Other speakers at the session included Impress Telefilm Ltd Managing Director Faridur Reza Sagor and Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited Chairman Arastoo Khan.

-SAM

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