Humanoid Robots are popping up everywhere, it’s the rise of the machines, run! Ok, not really. So robots that we’ve heard of include industrial robots in warehouse shipping your online orders, service robots like that robot barista making your morning cup of joe or server-bot serving your favorite dish at a restaurant, collaborative robots helping you build products on production floors, and social and sex robots wanting to be your partner and companion.

 

There’s a company in Bangaluru India, Invento Robotics that is developing autonomous humanoid robots for commercial application, like retail, offices, and banks. Their flagship product, Mitra, uses contextual speech and facial recognition to understand and respond to you, in context, using artificial intelligence. It also uses computer vision to identify and remember you for future reference, and can even understand facial expression to get more context from your communication. Mitra can gather insights, kind of like how web browsers, smartphones, social media, and e-commerce sites do to get a better understanding of their customers behaviors and interests.

 

What’s interesting is that Mitra digs a little deeper by gathering data in the physical world. Meaning, it can identify you, understand you and respond to you, all while gathering data based on facial expression and speech patterns.

 

For instance, in a retail setting, Mitra might greet you upon entrance, help you find items in-store, provide you with product information, help you make purchase and process payments. At the same time Mitra may store your facial and speech ID, so the next time you’re in the store it will remember who you are for a more personal engagement. Perhaps it might recognize your mood or physical health based on facial patterns and variances in speech, and make recommendations of products or services that may be of interest.

 

In a medical office, Mitra may greet you, check you in, conduct an initial analysis on your health, document your visit, and even place your prescription order with her counterpart Mitra in the pharmacy.

 

At a bank, Mitra may not only just greet you and check you in but perhaps analyze your finances, make recommendations to better manage your money, or suggest products and services that may benefit your overall financial goals.

 

So if  Mitra is going to be collecting, storing and analyzing my facial and speech features, how is that data going to be used and protected? Can Mitra be hacked or infected by a virus? How will it comply with laws and ethics? Will it discriminate based on my sex, race, religion, disability or other protected classes? How is Mitra going to influence me in my purchases or other more personal decisions?

 

With all this data, Mitra may be able to create a duplicate identify of my digital and physical insights and make that duplicate rob a liquor store, framing me, and putting me away for good! Ok, maybe a bit far fetched. Nevertheless, it gives you an idea of the potential benefits and risks that humanoid robots can create.

 

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