/mar 7, 2019

Live from RSA: Sophia the Social Humanoid Robot

By Rj Gazarek

A big theme throughout RSA this year, from the keynote to vendor booths, is the power that artificial intelligence can bring to the security world. While we do leverage machine learning at Veracode to better our vulnerability database, we thought it would be a lot more fun to bring a different form of AI to the booth this year.

We invited Sophia, the world’s first social humanoid robot, to be a guest speaker at our booth. We engaged in an interview session with Sophia, and then opened the floor to attendees to ask her questions and get their pictures taken. Sophia is extremely lifelike in her facial appearance and expressions. The rest of her body, such as her arms, are still robot looking. 

So how well did she answer questions? Very well! It wasn’t without some challenges, though we believe most were due to the level of noise on the RSA expo floor. Our booth is in a very central location, with a lot of traffic, so the ambient noise is high. With Sophia drawing a crowd, it made it sometimes really hard for even us to hear the attendee’s question, let alone for Sophia to make out what was said. 

The keynote this year highlighted the importance of humans and machines (AI) working together to better security, and by doing so, becoming stronger than either one individually. Humans are great at understanding context, knowing what questions to ask, and setting big goals for our civilization to achieve. Machines are great at processing massive amounts of data, getting to answers that we never could, and providing a systematic approach to problems. This was exemplified in one of the first questions asked of Sophia: “What do you like the most about RSA?” Sophia, being an AI system programmed to analyze the question and provide an answer, gave an accurate answer – she talked about how great the RSA encryption is. However, a human would realize that the question is being asked in the context of the conference going on at the time. So while it’s funny to hear that answer, it’s also a great thing because it means that an AI system can provide us answers that maybe we didn’t know we were asking. Better yet, it also allows us to better frame the questions to get to the answers we really want – such as asking,”what’s your favorite thing about the RSA Conference so far?”

The most interesting part was hearing some of her answers to questions like “what goals do you have for your life?” Sophia provided a surprisingly realistic answer about being so close to autonomy, and not having to rely on other humans.

Looking at Sophia, it makes me realize that we are on the edge of something amazing. 

Stay tuned for more from RSA …



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By Rj Gazarek

RJ Gazarek is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Veracode, working as part of the product strategy team on the Software Composition Analysis and Greenlight product lines.  Combining 10 years of Marketing experience, an education in Psychology, and a personal background in IT, RJ brings a unique perspective to the cybersecurity market.  His job is to be the voice of Veracode's customers, while keeping a pulse on the rapidly changing market for application security.