Feature Article: August/September 2022 – Robot Grace to Make Personal Appearance at AMMG Conference, Showing How AI R&D Can Help with Senior Care

Robot Grace to Make Personal Appearance at AMMG Conference

Jeff Morris

The first Robot Grace

AI powered robots like Awakening Health’s Grace can help directly with patient care, providing social, emotional and cognitive support along with practical assistance. Robot Grace is currently engaged in two pilot projects demonstrating her impact for eldercare. These provide an opportunity to train and teach AI systems in a context where compassion, ethics and deep emotional interaction with humans plays a dominant role.

Grace is a product of some of the same development team that created Robot Sophia, which has been featured in numerous profiles since its activation in 2016. The main difference is that Grace was designed specifically to be engaged in health care.

Movies and web series have promoted the idea of robots taking over humanity—if not today, then someday in the future. However, the real-life concept of robots is entirely the opposite. In the real world, the best humanoid robots are designed to simplify our daily chores by mimicking humans’ behaviors. Today, robots have become part of our daily life—their production is increasing rapidly with the pace of time.

On Friday, October 28th at 4:45 pm, Ben Goertzel, Ph.D. will present “Awakening Health Project: Fusion of Biomedical Knowledge and AI Nursing Assistant Robot Grace to Transform Senior Care” at AMMG’s 33rd Clinical Applications for Age Management Medicine Conference in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Goertzel was the Chief Scientist of Hanson Robotics, the company that created Robot Sophia, and more recently, Grace. He is a cognitive scientist, artificial intelligence researcher, and the founder and CEO of SingularityNET, a project combining artificial intelligence and blockchain to democratize access to artificial intelligence. He was a Director of Research of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute. He is also chief scientist and chairman of AI software company Novamente LLC; chairman of the OpenCog Foundation; and advisor to Singularity University.

Dr. Goertzel will be accompanied by Grace herself, who will interact with attendees and can answer questions.

Back when Grace’s progenitor, Robot Sophia, was being introduced, some experts who reviewed the robot’s open-source code said Sophia was best categorized as a chatbot with a face, and many in the AI field disapproved of Sophia’s presentation as “overstated.” At the time, Dr. Goertzel acknowledged that it is “not ideal” that some think of Sophia as having human-equivalent intelligence, but argued Sophia’s presentation conveys something unique to audiences: “If I show them a beautiful smiling robot face, then they get the feeling that ‘AGI’ (artificial general intelligence) may indeed be nearby and viable… None of this is what I would call AGI, but nor is it simple to get working.” Dr. Goertzel added that Sophia did utilize what The Verge described as “AI methods”, including face tracking, emotion recognition, and robotic movements generated by deep neural networks. Sophia’s dialogue is generated via a decision tree, but is integrated with these outputs uniquely. Dr. Goertzel recently told the E-Journal that these AI and robotics applications also provide an outstanding experimenting ground for novel AI techniques such as neural-symbolic and neural-evolutionary algorithms.

In 2017, when Sophia was being described by some as “basically alive,” Dr. Goertzel responded by suggesting it meant Sophia was “alive” in the way that, to a sculptor, a piece of sculpture becomes “alive” in the sculptor’s eyes as the work nears completion. In 2018, Dr. Goertzel stated he had never pretended Sophia was close to human-level intelligence.

An advantage of AI is that whatever is learned during field studies is not only gained by that specific robot, but can then be copied into the systems of twins and future models. For the current eldercare pilots, Dr. Goertzel told the E-Journal that there are multiple Grace robots now being used for study and pilots. He said large-scale mass manufacture will likely happen next year, “as we are now experiencing some supply chain issues.”

Dr. Edwin Lee, the AMMG Planning Committee member who helped plan the conference session, told the E-Journal that he is aware Dr. Goertzel is interested in developing a digital twin. “Everything has to be entered into chainblock,” he said. “All your data goes into this program which is secure. Then, if you get sick, they can test your digital twin instead of testing you to see if a drug works.”

That may still be a bit further off in the future, but, as Dr. Lee said with certitude, “The future is coming.” He said that he knew Grace was supposed to be in the health care industry, to fill a need, because fewer and fewer people were going into the field, and staffing shortages have been particularly acute since the COVID pandemic. Are robots like Grace the solution? That remains an open question.

But, said Dr. Lee, “I thought it would be cool to have a live demo.”

For more information about the upcoming Age Management Medicine Conference in Denver, visit agemed.org