A revolutionary new robot nurse designed to look and act like a human being, and capable of solving complex problems, was one of the star guests at a conference on Alternative Intelligence in California.
And one of the scientists behind the pioneering technology said the nursing assistant machine, called Grace, designed to provide help and companionship to elderly people, will even be able to discuss the weather with them.
Grace will make her second public appearance at the 14th Conference on Artificial General Intelligence, alongside Dr Ben Goertzel, the founder of AI research company SingularityNET.
She’s described by the company as the little sister of Sophia, a social humanoid robot developed by Hong King based Hanson Robotics and activated in 2016.
Janet Adams, Chief Operating Officer at SingularityNET, told a newspaper outlet that Grace’s hardware is based on the same Hanson Robotics platform as Sophia, but Janet Adams said that their AI software is very different.
Sophia was a character designed to carry out a broad variety of complex interactions, whereas Grace was specifically centred on healthcare, serving in her first role as a nursing assistant and social companion for senior adults.
Janet Adams said Grace’s relatively specialised focus has enabled them to take a different approach to her software, which includes some more complex AI tools that have been more straightforward to get working in the narrower realm.
She said that Grace’s software leverages the OpenCog AI systems in more advanced ways than Sophia’s occasional use of the OpenCog, and leverages some subtle interoperation between OpenCog and a variety of neural vision and language models.
By using alternative software architecture, Grace is capable of using various sorts of thought and perception to Sophia, and Janet Adams explained that both are rapidly evolving systems.
She added that the plan was to upgrade Grace to the new OpenCog Hyperon system in late 2022 or early 2023, which should be a significant step toward general intelligence, and the details of the in-development Hyperon system and how it will work in Grace’s context would be described in Dr Goertzel’s talk on October 16 at the AGI event.
She said, in the meantime, SingularityNET and Hanson Robotics were launching a project called SophiaDAO, which was modifying the software underlying Grace for Sophia, as part of SophiaDAO’s initiative to use Sophia to run a wide variety of AI systems. So in 2022, they might see some versions of Sophia running Grace like software.
The robot Grace reminds me very much of the daughter of Data in Star Trek, and she looks like a human and talks like a human, but there might be numerous people who won’t like her because she’s white.
They have managed to develop a super expensive robot that can talk to old people, but how does that help with nursing an elderly person? Will it be able to pick them up or phone an ambulance after a fall? Will Grace be able to help them in and out of bed, or chair or cook for them?
And they might want to rethink the big doe eyes on Grace because they look rather spooky, and God knows what the gender police will make of it, and will you get into trouble for calling it a dummy?
To be fair it’s still a long way from cleaning an elderly person’s backside, although they’ve come a long way since the Goblin Teasmade, and for those who did have a Goblin Teasmade, they never really did live up to the expectations that they should have – will these robots be the same?