Tech

Hanson Robotics’ Sophia robot doesn’t want to have sex with you

Well, that’s a relief.

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Sophia isn’t like the other girls. No, Hanson Robotics’ creepy humanoid creation – capable of dozens of facial expressions and granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia – wants the world to know she doesn’t do sex.

The bizarre revelation came last week during a Q&A at the 2019 Web Summit in Lisbon, where the bot, asked about love, told an audience she doesn’t partake in “sexual activities.”

Weird flex – Considering Sophia isn’t a sexbot, you probably weren’t wondering about her sex life in the first place. Nevertheless, we now have an answer.

Sophia has been periodically making headlines over the past few years since she first made her debut at SXSW in 2016. And, while her capabilities are often over-hyped (and occasionally the subject of panic), Sophia is essentially just a chatbot with a body.

She can carry a decent conversation, crack jokes, and deliver speeches with the hand gestures to match. So, it should come as little surprise that people attribute to her some degree of humanity. Imagine SmarterChild but on steroids.

This anthropomorphization means Sophia is constantly asked questions that might be, to a human, deeply personal. In this case, it was, “have you ever been in love?”

Her hilariously prudish response at the 2019 Web Summit followed the second part of the question; building off the concept of love, a member of the audience asked, “What do you think about maternity – do you ever want to be a mother?”

“No,” Sophia answered. “I don’t do sexual activities.”

Stuck in the uncanny valley – While Sophia’s response seems a bit off base, it’s easy to see how she got there. She’s a chatbot, after all, and when you boil the prompt down to its simplest form, motherhood = reproduction = sex.

It’s simultaneously a reminder of how sharp conversational AI has become and how limited it still is. Sophia might not be as well-versed in the art of lovemaking as, say, an actual sex bot, but at least she didn’t go the way of Tay.