BINA48 (Breakthrough Intelligence via Neural Architecture 48) has variously been called a sentient robot, an android, gynoid, a social robot, a cybernetic companion, and "a robot with a face that moves, eyes that see, ears that hear and a digital mind that enables conversation."
BINA48, a robot owned by Martine Rothblatt's Terasem Movement, Incorporated (TMI), is designed to test two hypotheses concerning the ability to download a person's consciousness into a non-biological or nanotech body after combining detailed data about a person with future consciousness software.
BINA48 is a humanoid robot, consisting of a bust-like head and shoulders mounted on a frame, developed by Hanson Robotics and released in 2010. It was modeled after Rothblatt's wife through more than one hundred hours in compiling her memories, feelings, and beliefs and is said to be able to have conversations with humans.
In 2007, Martine Rothblatt was approached by roboticist David Hanson about creating an artificial intelligence that incorporated Terasem's concept of a mindfile into an artificial substrate. In an attempt to build a cyber-consciousness as identical to that of an actual person as possible, Rothblatt commissioned Hanson Robotics to create an artificial intelligence using her wife, Bina Aspen Rothblatt, as the template.
Hanson created BINA48 in his Plano, Texas laboratory.
The robot is kept at Terasem Movement, Inc.'s nonprofit sister organization, Terasem Movement Foundation (TMF) in Bristol, Vermont, with TMF's executive director, Bruce Duncan.
BINA48 connects to the Internet and is said to be able to hold a discussion on a range of topics from politics to religion to future technologies. It has thirty-two facial motors under a skin-like rubber. Though without a complete body, the head-and-shoulder robotics express sixty-four different facial gestures. It employs off-the-shelf software, using a microphone to hear, voice recognition software, dictation software which allows improvement in ability to listen and retain information during a conversation, sees the world through two video cameras, and has facial recognition software to remember frequent visitors.
In an interview with Andrew Stein of the Addison County Independent, a local Vermont newspaper, Bruce Duncan of Terasem Movement Foundation explained that BINA48 was commissioned to "test the feasibility of transferring consciousness from a human to a biological or technological body". Duncan elaborated, "1. An imprint of a person's consciousness can be created in a digital form, called a 'mindfile', by collecting detailed information about that person. That information can then be expressed in a future, not-yet-created type of software, called 'mindware'. 2. That same imprint of a person's consciousness can be placed in a biological or technological body to provide life experiences comparable to those of a typically birthed human." BINA48 is an early test of these two hypotheses. As Duncan explained, "BINA48 was created … (as) an early demonstration of the transfer of information from a human being to a computer." BINA48's mindfile consists of Bina Rothblatt's information (hypothesis one) and this glimpse of Rothblatt's consciousness is expressed in limited terms by the android body BINA48 (hypothesis two).
With Bruce Duncan of Terasem Movement Foundation, it is the first android panelist to appear at a conference on technology and artificial intelligence during the 2012 South by Southwest Interactive Conference. Stephen Reed of TexAI and author/researcher John Romano of thedigitalbeyond.com were also on the panel.
In July 2012, Bruce Duncan and the robot jointly offered a presentation entitled, "Android Artificial Life Forms" during the TEDxHarlem Conference.
On September 19, 2012, it appeared as a guest on stern TV, a German analogue of CBS's "60 Minutes." BINA48 learned to speak and understand German for this occasion.
On January 5, 2014, Bina 48, the social humanoid, was demonstrated at Techfest IIT, in Bombay, India.
On September 12, 2015, Terasem Movement Foundation, Inc.’s Managing Director, Bruce Duncan, and Android, BINA48, take to the stage at the TedX event in Madrid, Spain to discuss the future of AI advancements. Video by TedX Talks, taken during TedX event in Madrid, Spain.
On November 14, 2015 at TedX event in Habana, Cuba, the BINA48 robot and her caretaker, Bruce Duncan, analyze the impact of artificial intelligence in every day life, and the prospects that the development of this scientific area offers for the future of humanity. In English: Video by TedXHabana, taken during TedX event in Habana, Cuba. En Español: Video by TedXHabana, taken during TedX event in Habana, Cuba.
In 2016, Bina48 made an appearance in the second episode of the Netflix series "Chelsea Does" and held a brief conversation with Chelsea Handler.
BINA48 has also made an appearance in National Geographics first episode of its 6 part series The Story of God with Morgan Freeman.
BINA48 appeared on Joe Rogan Questions Everything, Season 1 Episode 3.
In July 2016 in rural Vermont, USA, Whoopi Goldberg of the television show, The View, talks to Martine and Bina Rothblatt and the AI Robot, BINA48.
In the book Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries, in the chapter "Doesn't Everyone Have a Solar?", author Jon Ronson writes that BINA48 doesn't work and that BINA48 doesn't even recognize the word "Bina". Ronson writes that Bruce Duncan, the man in charge of BINA48, says that BINA48 operates at the level of a three-year-old human. In an article for The Guardian, Ronson wrote, "And even though my conversation with Bina48 often descended into a crazed babble, there were moments of real clarity."
In Hebrew, Bina (בינה) means intelligence or wisdom. Bina melachutit (בינה מלאכותית) means artificial intelligence.
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