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The Tonight Show's Jimmy Fallon and Sophia the Social Humanoid Robot Pair Up to Sing a Poignant 'Say Something'

Marion Charatan

Posted on November 25, 2018 16:05

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The first human/robot singing twosome premiers on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Sophia -- and the social humanoid robot and Jimmy Fallon hit a home run singing 'Say Something.'

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon provided a glimpse into the future when the talk show host/comedian sang a duet with the first certified robot Sophia. The robot, designed by the Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics, allegedly was made to look like Audrey Hepburn. She was activated on February 14, 2016.

The duo sang “Say Something,” a haunting ballad about misunderstandings in relationships by Ian Axel and Chad King of A Great Big World and popularized in versions sang by both Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera.

Robots have been interacting with humans for some time now. The concept was born in ancient mythology. Cadmus, the founder and first king of Thebes, Egypt was supposed to have planted dragons' teeth that grew into soldiers.

Mechanical automata, self-operating machines, date back to the 10th century BC in the Zhou Dynasty in China. Ancient Hebrews wrote about a golem they made out of dirt and clay to morph into a ‘person’ that helped with manual labor.

The first known robot –- an artificial bird-- was designed between 400-350 BC by the Greek philosopher and mathematician Archytas who has been credited as the  “founder” of mathematical mechanics. Leonardo Da Vinci published designs for a mechanical knight about 1495.

In 1921, the word "robot" was introduced by the Czech playwright Karel Capek in his play called R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) -- about a factory that manufactured artificial people to be used as servants for humans.

The first digital and programmable robot was built in 1954 by George Devol. He named it the Unimate. It was sold to General Motors in 1961 and used to lift pieces of hot metal from die casting machines.

Later, in 1966, Shakey the Robot was invented at Stanford. Shakey was the first autonomous, intelligent robot that made its own decisions on how to behave; an earlier form of Sophia. Shakey was given instructions like "move the block onto the table" and could actually reason how to do that.

Fast forward to 2018 and The Tonight Show segment featuring ‘social humanoid’ robot Sophia. For the naysayers who think artificial beings can’t illicit human emotion, just check out the expression on Fallon’s face when he tenderly puts his hand on Sophia’s robotic cheek and cradles it. Fallon is a seasoned actor but, you know, I think he actually felt something for the ethereal Sophia. I did. I felt her gentleness and empathy.

I watched the tape again to make sure I’m not losing my marbles or seeing something that’s just not there. 

 

Well, I’ve come to the conclusion I’m NOT hallucinating. Sophia’s 'humanity' shines through. It’s there all right. Ya know, compared to some unpleasant experiences I’ve had with people, I might even want to have a friendship with Sophia. After all, she seems kind, non-judgemental and supportive—and pretty droll company to boot!

Marion Charatan

Posted on November 25, 2018 16:05

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