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Meet the robots who are making the world a better place

As artificial intelligence (AI) sprouts new, powerful learning abilities, nations are working on strategies to govern it, according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which is hosting the two-day summit to showcase a bevy of new technologies, including a range of robots who can handle everything from healthcare to rock music.

Prospering from a machine-assisted future is part of the challenge, as governments and industry leaders recognize the need to reach out to each other more than ever before as they look for the common blueprint for humanity, the agency said.

Aimed at connecting visionaries with an array of UN organizations and investors focused on sustainable development, the UN-driven event provides an unprecedented chance to empower these cutting-edge innovators to tackle global challenges, including the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“We have to engage and ensure a responsible future with AI,” explained ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin.

Robots enhancing social good

To help with that, the Global Summit’s guestlist features 51 innovative robots, including nine humanoid robots, equipped to help people with functions in line with the SDGs.

Robots like Grace can support people’s health and well-being, provide high-quality educational services, reduce inequalities by helping persons with disabilities, reduce waste, help build resilient infrastructure, and broadly enhance social good, according to the UN telecommunications agency.

The world’s most advanced humanoid healthcare robot, Grace can recognize emotions, shows perpetual empathy, and understands more than 100 languages, according to media reports.

First developed in partnership with Hanson Robotics and SingularityNET, Grace is “the world’s foremost nursing assistant robot”, made to provide support and care for the elderly. But, she can be used as nursing support in any healthcare or home setting, according to ITU.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed interacts with Sophia the robot at the “The Future of Everything – Sustainable Development in the Age of Rapid Technological Change” meeting.
© United Nations/Kensuke Matsue

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed interacts with Sophia the robot at the “The Future of Everything – Sustainable Development in the Age of Rapid Technological Change” meeting.

UNDP’s Sophia

Sophia is the first robot Innovation Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Built by Hanson Robotics, she personifies dreams for the future of AI, according to ITU.

As a unique combination of science, engineering, and artistry, Sophia is simultaneously a human-crafted science fiction character depicting the future of AI and robotics, and a platform for advanced robotics and AI research, the agency said.

She is already quite famous. Aside from her role as UNDP Innovation Ambassador, she has appeared on such popular television programmes as the Tonight Show and Good Morning Britain. She has also spoken at hundreds of conferences around the world, including at UN Headquarters in New York.

Meet Ameca

Ameca, developed by Engineered Arts, represents an ideal platform to explore how machines can live with, collaborate, and enrich humanity in tomorrow’s sustainable communities, according to ITU.

Integrating both AI and AB (artificial body) for advanced, iterative technologies that deliver superior motion and gestures, Ameca has a human form and robotic visage designed to make it a non-threatening, gender-neutral presence.

Assistive robots are transforming human lives in multiple ways, according to the UN agency. Using machine learning and AI, these robots offer support in mobility, communication, self-care, and other essential daily tasks, giving people who need it renewed confidence and autonomy.

Help wanted: AI for SDGs

Some robots are designed to tackle broader social and environmental challenges. In the face of rising climate risks and other disasters, specialized disaster-assistance robots are revolutionizing emergency response.

Others are transforming food preparation to ensure health and sustainability while avoiding food waste.

Amid global population growth, robots could also become key allies for humanity in addressing long-term development challenges, according to ITU.

Efficient construction robots, for instance, could pave the way to providing sustainable and affordable housing for everyone. Robots focused on transforming urban logistics and transportation, meanwhile, could lay the groundwork for greener, safer, and more inclusive living in the megacities of the future, the agency said.

Other robots visiting the Global Summit include: Nadine, one of the world’s most realistic humanoid social robots, created by the University of Geneva; Geminoid, an ultra-realistic humanoid robot by Hiroshi Ishiguro from Japan; and 4NE-1, among the world’s most advanced cognitive humanoid robots, designed by Neura Robotics to collaborate with humans.

On the cultural side, Ai-Da Robot, the first ultra-realistic robot artist, designed by Aidan Meller, and Desdemona, the “rockstar” robot of the Jam Galaxy Band, are also expected to make appearances at the Summit.

Learn more about the AI For Good Global Summit and the work of ITU here.

More than 50 robots attended the AI for Good Global Summit 2023.
© ITU/D.Woldu

More than 50 robots attended the AI for Good Global Summit 2023.

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