SOPHIA ON WIRED MAGAZINE
PHOTOGRAPHING A ROBOT ISN'T JUST POINT AND SHOOT
WHEN GIULIO DI Sturco takes a portrait, he tries to capture the essence of his subject—what some might call their soul. But that was impossible with his latest subject, Sophia: She doesn’t have one.
Sophia is a humanoid. Behind her bright green eyes and soft, glowing skin—made from something called “frubber”—lies an armature of microchips, sensors, and other gadgetry that allow her to blink, smile, and pose for di Sturco’s camera.
“At first glance you don’t know if she’s human or not,” di Sturco says, “but then you see the details, the brain.”
The Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics first switched Sophia on February 14, 2016. They designed her to be the world's most expressive robot, with more than 60 facial expressions puppeted by tiny servomotors and Bowden cables beneath her skin. She sees through cameras in her eyes and on her chest, while a combination of programming and algorithms help her track and remember faces, communicate verbally and nonverbally, and even joke around (albeit awkwardly). But while she's nowhere near as smart as a human, her AI—partly onboard, partly in the cloud—is constantly being updated. “She’s still like a baby, so she’s not so intelligent,” di Sturco says. “She’s learning.”