March 10, 2018

By Debra Neutkens/Editor | Press Publications

WHITE BEAR LAKE — The guest speaker at a White Bear Area Chamber of Commerce event last week has no last name. 

She has visited numerous countries, appeared on “60 Minutes” and “The Tonight Show,” has addressed the United Nations and was supposedly granted citizenship by Saudi Arabia. And she travels in suitcases, two or three, if accompanied by her legs. 

“She,” a humanoid robot named Sophia, addressed a luncheon crowd eager to meet her at Century College’s East Campus Feb. 27. Her visit prompted the governor to proclaim it “Sophia Day.”

Designed by Hanson Robotics in Hong Kong, the humanoid robot is known for her ability to imitate human gestures, make facial expressions and answer certain questions. 

After a short introduction by chamber member Bob Schlichte, Sophia began her speech: “Hello, everyone; thank you for inviting me here today. I am thrilled to be here in Minnesota and particularly White Bear Lake, the epicenter of the Twin Cities.”

The celebrity robot politely singled out Mayor Jo Emerson, asking if she was in the audience. The mayor stood and replied, “Yes, I am.” Sophia told the mayor, “You seem dedicated to your people. Thank you for your service.”

Although her dialog was scripted on this particular day, Sophia is a social robot who can interact with people. According to her creator, David Hanson, she uses artificial intelligence software, visual data processing and facial recognition to process emotional and conversational data to form relationships.

Her future may lie in home health care for an aging population. 

Read the entire article in the White Bear Press.