"There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish." ~ Michelle Obama
International Women’s Day on March 8 is a global celebration of women's social, economic, cultural, and political achievements. This year's theme, #EmbraceEquity, focuses on understanding why equal opportunities aren't enough. Equality embraces awareness; Equity embraces fairness.
Female humanoid robots have the potential to drive progress. However, the data to train machine learning models must be unbias and diverse. If programmers are committed to impartiality, they are not perpetuating gender prejudices.
The obvious alternative to calling a Robot "she" is to refer to them as "it" or "they" to avoid the pitfalls of gendering AI; however, in honor of International Womens Day, the assigned gender is a feminine persona and will be referred to as "she" or "her."
Our featured Fembots have the power to level the field for women by challenging stereotypes through equitable behavior.
"It's paramount for humans and AI to work together. We should celebrate diversity, and I believe we will see a decrease in racism, sexism, and homophobia as people embrace AI and technology. We need to create a society based on equality and justice for all" ~ Sophia.
Sophia, whose name in Greek means wisdom, was activated on February 14, 2016. Considered the world's most advanced humanoid, she was developed by Hong-Kong based Hanson Robotics and modeled after Queen Nefertiti, Audrey Hepburn, and Amanda Hanson, the inventor's wife.
Gaining attention for her lifelike appearance and advanced AI capabilities, in 2017, Saudi Arabia bestowed her - the first Robot in the world - with full citizenship. The same year she was honored by the United Nations Development Programme as an Innovation Champion, the only non-human with a UN title.
Nadine remembers facts and events. She assists people with special needs, from reading stories and emailing their family and friends to attending Skype sessions.
A social humanoid robot developed by the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, Nadine is designed to interact with people and recognize faces and voices. She can adapt and modify environments accordingly with advanced artificial intelligence technology, 3D depth cameras, a microphone, and a webcam to collect input.
Her creators identify Nadine's cutting-edge potential in multiple fields. She assists patients in the healthcare industry, tutors students in education facilities, and delivers personalized customer service across various business sectors.
Nadine has been featured in several media reports, representing an exciting advancement in social robotics and transforming how we interact with machines.
Launched in 2015, Erica was named the most beautiful and intelligent android. Popular opinion is Leonardo DiCaprio should date her because a robot model is missing from his collection.
Created by famed humanoid roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro and fellow scientist Kohei Ogawa, Erica has built-in speech-generation algorithms and facial recognition technology. She can understand and communicate in English and Japanese, detect when a person is laughing, and decide whether it's appropriate to laugh back.
Comedy is a platform for challenging stereotypes and promoting empathy by making people laugh at themselves and each other. It can draw attention to the absurdity of bias and inequality by pointing out how ridiculous and nonsensical it is.
Erica's creators applied method acting principles to AI, leading to her role in b, a US$70M Sci-Fi film. Producer Sam Khoze describes it as "a James Bond meets Mission Impossible story with heart." As a Fembot, Erica cannot contribute to bias alone. However, how she is programmed, designed, and deployed could alter existing gender biases in society.
Jia Jia can hold basic conversations. When asked if she has a partner, she replied, "I prefer to stay single."
China's first human-like Robot, Jia Jia, was developed by the University of Science and Technology of China. With human-like eyes that move freely around the room and lips synced almost perfectly with her speech, she interacts directly with humans, responding to questions or actions.
In 2017, team leader Chen Xiaoping predicted that artificially intelligent robots like Jia Jia would perform simple tasks in nursing homes, hospitals, and households within a decade. He said China's aging population requires more hands on deck in hospitals and nursing homes - even if they aren't human.
Junko Chihira works in the tourism industry and helps customers at Aqua City Odaiba, a shopping mall on Tokyo's waterfront.
Junko Chihira, created by Toshiba, Japan, using technology developed by Hiroshi Ishiguro, has incredible interaction skills, a wide range of facial expressions, and advanced artificial intelligence. Equipped with speech synthesis and natural language processing, she can converse with Japanese, English, and Chinese tourists to provide information on events in the area. Junko can also interact with sign language to help hearing-impaired visitors.
Complex, empathic androids are joining Sophia, Nadine, Erica, Jia Jia, and Junko to substitute human involvement in applications from answering questions to stimulating dementia patients. According to Research and Markets, the demand will grow to US$86.20B by 2027.
Our featured Fembots can perpetuate a gender-fairness world. However, it will take concerted efforts from AI programmers to ensure diversity, inclusion, equality and equity exist in every stage of development. Humans can make a difference by themselves. On International Women's Day and every day, we have the power to #EmbraceEquity.