Namaste Sophia! Welcome to India.


When Sophia visits the TechFest at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, in less than a week’s time, India will also get a flavor of this already sensationalized artificial intelligence.

Developed by Dr. David Hansen of Hansen Robotics, Sophia is a great example of bringing artificial intelligence closest to human beings. Although some purists are critical of sensationalizing AI in the form of Sophia, there is little doubt that Sophia touring around the world may encourage the investor community to fund more projects like these.

Sophie has been designed to look like Audrey Hepburn the Hollywood star known for her porcelain skin and classic features.

AI and Machine Learning have become buzzwords in today’s vocabulary. Almost everybody is using these terms, including the layman. Also, the difference between robots and AI is kind of blurring as people use these terms interchangeably. But robots typically are mechanical devices which are programmed to do pre-determined tasks to perfection. But Artificial Intelligence is a branch of Robotics which constantly keeps on improving based on the feedback it gets from the environment. Therefore the term ‘machine learning’ because Artificial Intelligence like human beings keeps on learning.

Sophia is a bit of a VIP having addressed the United Nations as well as the Tonight Show by Jimmy Fallon.

And as the above episode of the Tonight Show amply demonstrates, AI need not always take a human shape and form.

Another great invention this year has been Alpha Zero that taught itself to play chess to almost superhuman levels in just 24 hours. One of the fascinating things about Alpha Zero is that it seems to be intuitive just like humans and can make sacrifices just to derive positioning advantage like the great chess Grandmasters like Alexander Alekhine did about 90 years ago.

Positioning advantage it has been known can make the whole difference to winning a game of chess.

So what might be the final barrier for Artificial Intelligence in its endeavor to bio-mimic humans? It might well be empathy and emotion. As was portrayed in the film Blade Runner 2048 the Voight-Kampf machine used by the LAPD in the film, checks replicants for an empathetic response to determine if they are humans or replicants.

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Prabhakar Mundkur has spent 40 years in advertising and worked in India, Africa and Asia. He is currently Chief Mentor with HGS Interactive a part of HGS in the Hinduja Group. He is on the advisory board of Sol 's Arc ( ) an NGO dedicated to special education for intellectually challenged children. He is also a member of Whiteboard ( ) which supports senior management of NGOs in financial management, PR, Communication and HR through pro bono expertise.


  1. Thanks for starting this, Prabs.

    I now know where to get my morning cup of coffee!

    I wish I had read this earlier. Would have been very useful for a Foresighting Workshop I conducted in Bengaluru recently.

    1. Sumit, I am so glad started it. Since I was a novice at this I learnt a lot in the process of how to set up a website since I did it all on my own! Thanks for your continued comments and support. Cheers. Prabs

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