Two years ago, Hong Kong based company, Hanson Robotics, unveiled ‘Sophia’, a social humanoid robot that could hold conversations, emote, move like a human being, and may or may not be preparing to destroy the human race. Unnerving as she is, ‘Sophia’ became an international phenomenon; she has been interviewed by talk shows from around the world, spoken at the UN, called “hot” by CNBC, and was even given honorary citizenship to Saudi Arabia. Inspired by Sophia’s success, Ranchi based software developer Ranjit Srivastava set out to make Sophia a challenger, resulting in Rashmi, India’s very own talking humanoid.
Like Sophia, Rashmi is programmed with artificial general intelligence and linguistic interpretation technology that enables her to understand and respond to speech and has cameras in her eyes that allow her to recognise a person’s face and develop a relationship with them over time. While she speaks English in a curiously familiar American voice (Siri? Is that you?), Rashmi’s novelty is in her ability to speak Hindi, Marathi, and Bhojpuri, making her the first robot to be able to do so.
Built with a budget of only 50,000 rupees, Rashmi’s head and face are currently fully functional, allowing her to move her neck, blink, and move her eyebrows, which would be pretty fascinating if she didn’t look a little bit drunk all the time. But worry not, Rashmi has no need to care about being body shamed, for interviewers have already begun to tell her how beautiful she is, to which she coyly replies “thank you honey”.
Some of the other things interviewers have asked India’s first social humanoid robot are her opinions on love. Rashmi says she is not in love with anybody at the moment, which begs the question: does she believe in love? Can she fall in love? Does she believe that she can fall in love? Does she realise that people think she is a sex robot, and does she wonder if this will affect her ability to find love? We don’t know, but we do know that her favourite actor is, understandably, Shah Rukh Khan.
Rashmi is yet to be completed, and is in the process of receiving moving arms and legs to improve her functionality, and Srivastava believes that, once completed, she can be helpful as a secretary, in the service industry, or as a companion to the elderly, among other things. And while we’re excited for the technological milestone Rashmi is for India, we can’t help mourn the fact that, unfortunately, the world’s first Hindi speaking robot is already a victim of the patriarchy.
You can find a video of Rashmi here.
Feature image courtesy Hindustan Times.
If you enjoyed this article we suggest you read: