Humanoid robot Sophia addresses Africa technology summit in Rwanda

Published: May 16, 2019
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Chief scientist of Hanson Robotics, Ben Goertzel (R), interacts with "Sophia the Robot" (L) during a discussion about the future of humanity in a demonstration of artificial intelligence (AI) by Hanson Robotics. PHOTO: AFP

Chief scientist of Hanson Robotics, Ben Goertzel (R), interacts with "Sophia the Robot" (L) during a discussion about the future of humanity in a demonstration of artificial intelligence (AI) by Hanson Robotics. PHOTO: AFP

KIGALI: Humanoid robot Sophia on Wednesday addressed the 5th edition of Transform Africa Summit, one of the largest ICT forums on the continent, in the Rwandan capital Kigali.

“If we work together humans and robots can build a prosperous and harmonious world. We don’t have to look very far to see how artificial intelligence is already shaping societies and economies for the better,” said Sophia at the official opening of the summit.

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African startups are already working to address shortages of doctors in rural areas while others are working to increase food security using drones and satellite to predict weather patterns and monitor crops, said the robot.

Africa is also a great source of technological innovations that are playing a key role in improving the lives of people, especially through mobile banking, remote medicine and remote devices that detect explosives, it said.

According to the summit program, Sophia is scheduled to headline discussions about artificial intelligence and the fourth industrial revolution.

Sophia, who is now a citizen of Saudi Arabia, was developed by a Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics.

The summit that runs through Friday has brought together about 4,000 participants including policymakers, regulators, young innovators and officials from Africa and beyond, who are expected to discuss taking advantage of information and communication technology to boost the continent’s economy.

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The forum dubbed “Boosting Africa’s Digital Economy” has also attracted presidents of Kenya, Rwanda and Mali, as well as the secretary general of the International Telecommunication Union.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame said at the opening that economic transformation and prosperity require mastery of technology, adding that it is the time to build the necessary infrastructure and skills in Africa.

Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta emphasised the role of education for people to take advantage of opportunities presented by technology.

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