There are many things that are disturbing about the titular character. Perhaps most notable of all is the use of the uncanny valley, a theory that anthropomorphic replicas cause rejection when they come too close to human appearance and behavior. In the case of M3GAN, it is related to an aspect that confuses what is real and what is synthetic, and an accusing look that seems to be watching at all times. Let’s not forget his movements either and above all his macabre dance that wanders between the mechanized and the demonic. And of course, the fear generated in developed societies by thinking that a technology created to serve us can get out of control.
M3GAN has been a hit since its first teasers and it won’t be long before we hear more of her, be it sequels or crossovers. But let’s not forget that reality and fiction always go hand in hand, which is why it’s impossible not to wonder how close we are to dolls equipped with artificial intelligence hitting the market.
Meet Sophia… and Little Sophia
Contemporary technology has given many robots, but few as popular as Sophia. Created by Hanson Robotics, it is a gynoid –female android– specially designed for human interaction.
Its programming includes a symbolic artificial intelligence that can operate autonomously or programmed to give pre-programmed responses. This in combination with neural networks, expert systems, conversational natural language processing, adaptive motor control, cognitive architecture, and more. No less interesting is his perception of state-of-the-art machines that allow him to recognize human faces, identify emotional expressions and identify hand gestures, in order to deduce people’s dominant feelings and try to find the best results during conversations.
Appearance wise, it’s one of the best examples of the uncanny valley. Its designers say they were inspired by the face of Audrey Hepburn, with the peculiarity that the color of its skin can be changed from the factory to better fit a particular market. It’s a technological achievement, but it’s hard not to resent a being that looks so real and so fake at the same time. His appearance is that of a human, but his movements are synthetic, and as a final touch his transparent skull that allows us to see all his circuits.
Aware that the best way to eradicate robotic prejudices is to familiarize the little ones, Hanson Robotics has decided to transfer the most important concepts of Sophia to Little Sophia. It is a 30 cm gynoid. that has been conceived on the basis of the doll, but far from having old-fashioned dresses or hairstyles, it has a metallic body, lacks hair, and unlike the sobriety that governs the face of what has been described as Her older sister has a mischievous expression that makes her extremely attractive to the little ones. In her description, it is read that she contributes to the learning of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and of course, artificial intelligence. All this for only $249, a relatively low amount considering that it is the most advanced toy ever.
And what many wonder: when will it be available? The Hanson Robotics site has had Little Sophia in pre-order for years and indicates that the first orders were scheduled for December 2022. It has not been confirmed if these were shipped or if the product suffered any delays due to its sophistication.