The Hong Kong team behind the famous humanoid robot Sophia has unveiled a new prototype called Grace . A project aimed at the health market and designed to interact with the elderly and those isolated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dressed in a blue nurse’s uniform, Grace has Asian features, neck-length brown hair, and a thermal camera on her chest to take her temperature and gauge her responsiveness. It uses artificial intelligence to diagnose a patient and can speak English, Mandarin, and Cantonese . This is great news, of course, but there is also a downside to it.
Research suggests that anthropomorphic robots can build user confidence and create more natural engagement, but it can also lead to overconfidence and unrealistic perceptions of a robot’s capabilities.
Grace also needs to show that she can live up to expectations. Hanson Robotics has frequently been accused of exaggerating the abilities of Sophia, who Facebook’s chief artificial intelligence scientist once described as an "animatronic puppet . "
Social robots are already widely used in Japan, and some users are clearly very satisfied with them. Ultimately, they may become essential in an aging world with a shortage of workers, but critics fear they will be a cruel way to help the most vulnerable.
They thus warn that robots are less emotionally satisfying than interaction with humans and that their long-term effects remain unknown. Some argue that the very concept of automated care is an oxymoron. There is also a concern that social robots will reduce the user’s contact with family, friends, and human caregivers .
These advantages and disadvantages, therefore, must be taken into account when implementing more sophisticated artificial intelligences to assist human patients.