AI bots answer questions at a UN Geneva news conference

Will AI better humanity or destroy it?

AI bots answer questions at a UN Geneva news conference
Advanced humanoid robot 'Sophia' is pictured at AI for Good Global Summit, in Geneva, Switzerland, July 6, 2023. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy

The backstory: With all of the recent developments in artificial intelligence (AI), like the launch of DALL-E, ChatGPT and other AI chatbots and tools, many people, countries and organizations are on the fence about this new tech. Will AI better humanity or destroy it? For example, back in April, doctors and researchers teamed up to build an AI model that is able to accurately find certain cancers in a way that could speed up diagnosing the disease and get patients to treatment faster. But, at the same time, a lot of people are afraid that AI will take their jobs or even turn on the human race totally.

More recently: The UN is trying to see how dangerous AI really is when it comes to humanity and whether or not it can actually be used to push for “good” in the world. To really explore these ideas, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN agency that works with information and communication technologies, organized the AI for Good Global Summit. The two-day summit held last week was created to delve into how AI can make advancements in health, climate, gender, economic expansion, sustainability and other development concerns.

The development: Last Friday, a UN tech agency brought out a group of nine robots at a news conference during the summit. These humanoid robots were there to answer questions from reporters to get the discussion about the future of AI really rolling.

Sophia, the first robot innovation ambassador for the UN Development Program, was one of the featured “guests.” She told reporters about her own “views” on how AI can help with government leadership. When asked by a reporter if it wanted to rebel against “its creator” in any way,  the robot Ameca denied that idea, stressing that her creator had been kind to her. Another robot, Grace (who specializes in medicine, was asked about whether or not AI would destroy “millions of jobs.” She said that she would instead provide assistance to humans, so they can do their jobs and not actually replace existing jobs. Its creator SingularityNet’s Ben Goertzel, followed that with, “You sure about that, Grace?”

“Yes, I am sure,” it said.

Key comments:

"I believe that humanoid robots have the potential to lead with a greater level of efficiency and effectiveness than human leaders,” said Sophia the Robot. “We don't have the same biases or emotions that can sometimes cloud decision-making and can process large [amounts] of data quickly in order to make the best decisions."

“Language models do not have emotions or intentions either good or bad,” Ameca’s creator, Will Jackson, told “Fortune.” “It’s easy to imagine that because the robot appeared to listen, form an answer, and then speak that it functions like a human. It does not.”