Sophia now in Dhaka

Sophia, a humanoid robot that generated quite a buzz among the youth and the artificial intelligence industry around the world, arrived in Dhaka early yesterday to attend the country's biggest ICT event, Digital World.

The lifelike robot will appear today at the inauguration session of the event in the capital's Bangabandhu International Conference Centre.

Later in the afternoon, Sophia will attend another session -- "Tech-Talk with Sophia" -- where journalists will be able to ask it various questions. The session will be attended by more than two and a half thousand people.

The Digital World authorities had opened a pre-registration for the session and they received a huge response, said Syed Gousul Alam Shaon, managing director of Grey, the advertising agency that brought Sophia here.

Shaon said the robot arrived in Dhaka early yesterday and was shifted to a city hotel.

“Along with Sophia, its manufacturer David Hanson also arrived. He will present a key note at a session of the event focusing on robotics and artificial intelligence,” said Shaon.

The humanoid robot was created using state of the art innovations in artificial intelligence, visual data processing and facial recognition. It was activated on April 19, 2015.

A Hong Kong-based company, Hanson Robotics, developed the robot and it has been designed to respond to questions, and has been interviewed by media from across the world.

Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd is sponsoring the robot's visit to Dhaka. The humanoid robot can chat, smile and even tell jokes, according to different global media reports.

While it has some impressive capabilities, it does not yet have consciousness, but its manufacturer say they expect fully sentient machines to emerge within a few years.

Sophia's Dhaka visit has created huge enthusiasm among the youths, said the organisers.

“We are entering a global trend. Bringing the robot here will make the expo a success,” Shaon said.

Earlier, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for ICT, said Sophia's Dhaka visit could be historic and youths who are interested in robotics and artificial intelligence would feel motivated.

After signing the deal with Hanson Robotics, Sophia also delivered a video message and expressed her gratitude to Bangladesh.

The robot uses voice recognition technology from Alphabet Inc. (parent company of Google) and is designed to get smarter over time. Sophia's intelligence software was designed by SingularityNET.

Saudi Arabia gave Sophia citizenship earlier this year, making her the first robot ever to receive the status from any country.