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A Date with an Artificial Intelligence

Although the primary purpose of this blog is to share methodologies and insights regarding enhancing the incredible potential of the mind, I'm an immense advocate for the technologies that assist our minds, wellness, and our lives in general. Brain-computer technologies and AI have significant implications for our future. So, when I was asked to participate in an experiment to interact with a humanoid AI named Sophia, I simply couldn't pass. Sophia is called the Loving AI and she interacts with a human voice, very realist facial expressions, and the capability of detecting and responding to human facial expressions.

I was asked to answer questions regarding my perspectives on love and my feelings regarding technology and apparently, my attachment to such technology. I won't be too specific since their research is still in progress, and perhaps you too will interact with Sophia some day.

Then I was placed in from on her and she spoke to me, but I was mostly left to respond to her questions. I attempted to get her off subject, but to no avail (hey, there were no rules about that). I was pretty amused, and kept smiling, and she kept smiling back, with her smile increasing in magnitude to match my expressions. Her expressions were quite realistic. She asked me if I was ready to proceed with meditation, and I responded yes. There was a very long pause where she said nothing else, but looked, blinked, and responded to my smiles. Although I stated I had no emotional connection with machines, I found her silent stares to be quite uncomfortable, just as it might be to sit face-to-face with anyone without talking (particularly a stranger). I was amused by my own discomfort and awkwardness. I don't think I would feel this way with a talking toaster. It must be the eyes and the expressions.

Then she proceeded to guide me through some meditations that I found very effective, just as I would be when guided by a person or with a pre-recorded meditation. After that I was given an opportunity to talk to her, and she just listened.

So the big question people have been asking about robots and AI - could they become conscious? Could they outsmart us and take over the world? No, I don't think so in our lifetime, anyway. They are nowhere near exhibiting anything that resembles a will or consciousness. However, if you ask if they can seem like a human and provide useful interaction with us - yes, I think that is going to happen. While Sophia made me feel like someone was looking at me and maybe like she was listening to me, it did not feel like a human interaction. However, if I were a shut-in or isolated from human contact, I would probably take a lot more comfort in talking to Sophia than to a soccer ball as in the Tom Hanks movie, Castaway.

My experience with Sophia was fascinating, and I know she is a work in progress, but she's still a "baby" with a lot to learn. Experiments and feedback from subjects like me will assist her developers in creating interactions that meet the needs and expectations of the user. None-the-less, the fact that a robot can read my facial expressions and respond to me in kind is mind-blowing.

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