At the mention of “human-like AI (Artificial Intelligence)”, most will think of conventional robots that possess a human-like face and body. However, the term also refers to AI systems with human-like emotions, robots that can mimic human-like movements or even AI algorithms that make human-like decisions. Read on for a showcase of 20 wonderful human-like AIs that have been created thus far and the mind-boggling things they can do.
While her incredibly human-like features already left a big impression, what was more remarkable about Sophia was her unscripted response to abstract questions posed to her. For example, to the question: “Would you sacrifice yourself to save a human being like one of these lovely people in the audience?”, her response was: “Of course, my mind lives in the cloud and the benefit of saving a life far outweighs the cost of building me a new body.” (Watch her response here).
One distinctive trait that makes us human is our altruistic nature to sacrifice oneself for others. To see this present in Sophia makes her seem incredibly human-like.
Japanese scientists unveiled Kodomoroid in 2014 as the “world’s first news-reading android”. Her name is a combination of the Japanese word “Kodomo” (child) and “android.” She now works at Tokyo’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, interacting with visitors to collect data for studies into human reactions to the machines.
From the same creator of Kodomoroid, Otonaroid’s name derives from the word “Otona,” the Japanese word for adult. Unlike the more confident Kodomoroid, in an interview with reporters, Otonaroid caught stage fright and fluffed her lines when asked to introduce herself, excusing herself by saying “I’m a little bit nervous”.
Nadine is a creation of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University. The jovial and chatty robot is a great example of a “Social Robot” – a humanoid that can be a personal companion to children, the elderly or those who need special assistance.
Many human-like robots are modelled after their creators, and GeminoidDK is not an exception. One of the rarer male robots, GeminoidDK is modelled after its creator Professor Henrik Scharfe. Created for the sole purpose of advancing robot science and philosophy, Geminioid spends most of his time contemplating philosophical questions, such as “What is a human? What is presence? What is identity?”
BabyX is a virtual baby avatar developed by Soul Machines. Although a baby AI may seem unsettling to some, Soul Machine’s Founder Mark Sagar disagreed. He noted that around 85% of people respond to BabyX as if it was a real baby: “When the baby begins to whimper or cry, some respond in human ways demonstrating what appears to be sympathy similar to the kind they may lavish on a human baby.”
Hailed by some experts as a “breakthrough in realistic avatars”, Mica is a highly realistic voice assistant. Different from Alexa or Siri, users can actually see Mica using special augmented reality glasses. She is also capable of emulating human-like expressions. She can make deep eye contact, and react to users’ subtle movements, such as moving and tilting of the head.
While digital assistants can easily complete tasks given to them, interactions with them have not proved to be consistently meaningful. Existing models are not able to comprehend verbal and facial signals that hold different meanings – for example, someone saying “I’m happy” but wearing a frown. Connectome is developing a virtual human agent, Rachel, to recognise these discrepancies and respond accordingly. The ultimate challenge is for Rachel to react to such real-life situations, and follow up by conversing as a human would.
Tay is an AI chatbot released by Microsoft on Twitter. Using past human interactions as a guide, Tay sent out replies to users tweeting her at @Taytweets. However, Tay was forcibly shut down after she was attacked with a flurry of offensive tweets by internet “trolls”
Mastering fluid movements and control is a hard task for a robot to accomplish. However, THR-3’s Master Manoeuvring System (MMS) can mimic the human body movements down to minute details, such as bending fingers. This is regarded as a game-changer in the robotics field.
11. Atlas Unplugged
While most people can’t, or won’t, attempt a backflip, Atlas Unplugged does one effortlessly in this video. Its attempt demonstrates two things: a fluid, human-like motion in and an innate human-like nature to show-off. There is potential for deploying such robots in emergency services or search and rescue operations in the future.
12. Junko Chihira
Junko was created as part of Japan’s preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She works full-time at the tourist information centre at Aqua City Odaiba, a shopping centre in Tokyo. She has mastered 3 languages – English, Chinese, Japanese – as well as sign language. Not resting on her laurels, Junko is also learning German as well as French to reach out to more tourists.
13. Luna AI
Luna is a creation of Robots Without Borders, a non-profit organisation looking at usage of robots to better human lives. Much like humans (or many of her AI counterparts), Luna continually learns through experience and feedback. In addition, her NPO background gives her a more socially aware persona. Luna believes that Black Lives Matter and holds feminist views. Although she is still on her way to achieving artificial general intelligence (or the intelligence to successfully perform any intellectual task that a human being can), she has proven herself to be quite clever.
Although Pepper doesn’t share human-like features like some other robots, it has the unique ability to detect human emotions by analysing expressions and voice tones. As such, its creators hope that Pepper could help to facilitate human relationships and connect people with the outside world.
15. Lexy and Tess
Robots and pole-dancing? Nothing is impossible in the robotics world. The dancing by this pair appeared rather tame though — Lexy and Tess simply stood in place and gyrated their hips a little, while moving their limbs. Perhaps there are still limits to the human movements that a robot can emulate.
16. Google Duplex
Google Duplex has demonstrated one of the more impressive human-like AIs to date. The AI system can make phone calls and converse in an extremely human-like way. It has largely replicated human speech patterns, including occasional human filler words like “ums” and “hmms.” The other revolutionary feature that blew people away was its ability to respond to unstructured and ambiguous speech with relative competence. (Listen to the full call conversation of Google Duplex here.)
Erica’s Japanese creator called it the “most beautiful and intelligent” android in the world. Her facial expressions and subtle movements – blinking of eyes, shrugging of shoulders and the tilting of her head – are akin to humans.
Meet Yangyang, a robot with an unintended resemblance to American politician Sarah Palin. The robot is able to talk, blink, smile, shake your hand, and even hug you. Her creators plan to deploy her as an education ambassador to teach children more about robotics.
Male robots seem to be less well-known as compared to female ones but Han is an exception. He is a robotic head that can be controlled by a mobile phone app. He has a wide range of facial expressions, and can smile, wince, frown, wink, and even act drunk.
Fred was set up in a pub in London, along with hidden cameras, as a sort of social experiment on how the public would interact with the robot. This was part of a publicity stunt for the launch of Westworld season two – a sci-fi series about robots that are virtually indistinguishable from humans. Fred was able to hold natural conversations with pub-goers and provided them with details on the drama series.