Right now, we’re at a crossroads: we can make robots that appear human, but it’s always painfully obvious that they are definitely not human.

Remember Sophia the robot, who came to fame last year after being declared a citizen of Saudi Arabia?

Well, her creator, David Hanson, is wanting to go a step further and create machines that are life-like enough to win people’s trust. This is a big step, and one that won’t be easy to accomplish. But if done right, this will revolutionize robotics.

The problem with machines is that humans recognize them as non-human, and therefore have a hard time fully trusting them. As people try to make more human-like machines, we begin to creep into ‘uncanny valley,’ where machines look human-like, but something just feels slightly ‘off’ about them. This is very obvious with Sophia, who, though modeled after a human, is very obviously non-human.

For David Hanson to create a robot that can win people’s trust, he’d have to create a robot that escapes uncanny valley and can fool the majority of people. Can it be done?

We’ll have to wait and see.