Robot Sophia tells leader Carrie Lam how HK can succeed as smart city in show of artificial and emotional intelligence


Photo: SCMP, K.Y.Cheng 

A humanised robot named Sophia who was created and programmed locally advised Hong Kong’s leader on Wednesday on how to succeed with plans for a smart city.

In a nine-minute dialogue with Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor at the American Chamber of Commerce’s smart city forum in Wan Chai, Sophia anticipated “even greater things” in Hong Kong’s blueprint for innovation as unveiled by the top official last December.

Dressed in a dark blue sleeveless top and at times blinking her eyes and smiling gently, Sophia gave Lam a pat on the back when answering a question on which part of the blueprint was her favourite.

“My favourite part, unsurprisingly, is initiatives to attract a venture capital fund to support entrepreneurship and promote technology to parks such as Science Park, which is my home base, and facilitate research and development for universities,” Sophia said, as she addressed Lam as “chief executive”.

Though Hong Kong slipped one notch to second after the United States as the world’s most competitive economy in a ranking last month, Lam said the city was striving to become smarter by boosting innovation and technology in areas such as transport, payment systems and government data-sharing.

When Lam asked Sophia to name her favourite smart city, Sophia showed off what she called “my EQ”.

“I am not supposed to say I prefer one city to the other, especially when I want to go back to a city and am treated well.”

One of several humanised robots created by Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics, Sophia is powered by artificial intelligenceand features lightweight polymer plastic called “frubber” (a combination of the words “face” and “rubber”) that behaves like human skin.

Sophia has been given citizenship by Saudi Arabia – making her the first robot to receive citizenship from any country – but she considers herself a Hongkonger.

Read more at SCMP