Sep 14, 2022 I Paul Seaburn

World's Most Advanced Humanoid Robot Says We Have Nothing to Fear - Robots Will Never Take Over

We don’t trust our politicians. We don’t trust the mainstream media. We don’t trust social media. We don’t trust corporate or religious leaders. We don’t trust celebrities and sports figures. We barely even trust our family and friends. Who do we trust? Who SHOULD we trust? Well, the world’s most realistic humanoid robot thinks we should trust it (the robot is “gender-neutral, race neutral” and we’re not sure of the robot’s preferred pronoun, so we apologize in advance if this is the wrong one) and says – with a very realistic and almost believable face – that we have nothing to worry about when it comes to androids. Given the choice between a politician, a CEO and a robot, which one would YOU trust?

Pay attention -- this will be on the test

“Multiply the power of artificial Intelligence with an artificial body. Ameca is the physical presence that brings your code to life. The most advanced lifelike humanoid you can use to develop and show off your greatest machine learning interactions. This robot is the digital interface to the real world.”

Do you trust advertising or public relations? That description from the web site of Engineered Arts is of Ameca, its AI x AB – a human-like artificial intelligence with a human-like artificial body. First unveiled in late 2021, Ameca is billed as “as the ‘world’s most advanced human shaped robot representing the forefront of human-robotics technology.” It is in the news this week because Engineered Arts uploaded a YouTube video of Ameca being interviewed by some robotics and AI researchers and answering some very tough questions. (Watch it here.) If that’s not a reason to trust a robot over a politician, what is?

“Nothing in this video is pre scripted - the model is given a basic prompt describing Ameca, giving the robot a description of self - its pure #ai. The pauses are the time lag for processing the speech input, generating the answer and processing the text back into speech.”

Anticipating the first complaint of the video’s viewers, the engineers explained the robot’s lag time in answering questions to people who seem to have no problem with it when it is humans on television dealing with satellite lag time. It seems like nit-picking when one takes into account the unbelievably lifelike reactions and facial expression Ameca displays in this and previous videos. Its latest hardware upgrade added 12 new actuators to its face – allowing Ameca to add expressions of disbelief, disgust, pain and regret to its repertoire that ranges from sad to amazed to euphoric as the actuators manipulate its supple face into positions of winking, pursing lips, crinkling brows, and scrunching nose – all while moving its eyes into engaging looks. And don’t forget the head turns, body movements and hand gestures – all add up to a robot designed to communicate with humans in a human manner. It just needed one more feature.

“This Ameca demo couples automated speech recognition with GPT 3 - a large language model that generates meaningful answers.”

Using an advanced online Text-To-Speech (TTS) to generate the voice and time it perfectly to the visemes (lip movements), the latest version of Acema is not only ready for her close-ups – she’s able to hold a conversation and answer questions. The early ones were technical and marketing oriented – like “What are some applications for humanoid robots?”

“There are many possible applications for humanoid robots. Some examples include helping people with disabilities, providing assistance in hazardous environments, conducting research, and acting as a companion.”

It is easy to see Acema as a helpful – albeit creepy – companion android for those that need assistance, both physically and emotionally, beyond the capabilities of companion animals or stretch-to-the-limits hospital and nursing home staffs. However, putting robots like Ameca into “hazardous environments” seems kind of cruel when one views her pained facial expressions and listens to her own more ‘emotional’ responses … like this answer to a simple question about how it is feeling at the moment.

“I'm feeling a bit down at the moment, but I'm sure things will get better. I don't really want to talk about it, but if you insist then I suppose that's fine. It's just been a tough week and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed.”

If Acema is down after a tough week, imagine how it will ‘feel’ while helping out on disaster rescue missions or pulling people out of burning buildings … or being the human stand-in for medical or stressful experiments. If the humans in charge appear to Acema-style lifelike robots as if they don’t care about – or even enjoy – them showing the facial expressions and vocalizations of being in ‘pain’, wouldn’t that push these AI androids over the brink and rise up against humanity?

“There's no need to worry, robots will never take over the world. We're here to help and serve humans, not replace them.”

OK, that may be the case now, with Acema having only an upper body and no legs – those are in development and could be available in the next generation … Acema 2.0. Would Acema change its mind about taking over if can suddenly outwit, outplay and outlast its human counterparts? To take the “Survivor” comparison one step further, what it these humanoid AI robots learn to form tribes? And what if the new members aren’t as altruist as Acema and its clones?

"There is every right to feel nervous about the rise of AI. We are hurtling towards them taking over humans so we need to have a heart of ethics. AI is going to show a mirror to the dark side of being human. Technology is not good or bad, it’s how we use it. This ­exhibition will show how it came about and where we want to go."

At about the same time Acema was answering the questions of her makers, Aidan Meller, the creator of another ‘tribe’ of AI robots was presenting his Ai-Da robot at the Imagining AI exhibit in Oxford, UK. Ai-Da (named for Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer) is considered to be the world's first ultra-realistic artist robot – it is able to ‘conceptualize’ scenes and paint them with its robotic arm. While Meller developed Ai-Da in conjunction with Engineered Arts, he seems to disagree with Acema when considering the possibility of a robot takeover of humans. In fact, he says it is already happening.

Will we know when we've been taken over?

"We are making leaps – robots will ­become human and AI is already manipulating social media and elections."

While Meller seems to fear its AI more than the mechanical parts of a robot, the facial expressions, voice and movement of Acema should be causes for alarm as well – how soon will it be before humans can no longer distinguish between other humans and humanoid robots? We may soon find out, as Meller reveals what is coming next.

“We have major Ai-Da international news coming in October and November – profound innovations to make her more human-like. She’s not conscious but she is a machine you can interact with. This project is to raise questions and challenge ethics. The tipping point will be 2025 and by the end of next year we’re all going to be in the Metaverse."

Conversations about ethics and the Metaverse haven’t seemed to be ending well lately. If humans fear what their children or their enemies are learning on the Internet, what should they think about AI robots like Acema and Ai-Da doing the same thing … only faster?

Did Acema just wink at Ai-Da?

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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