aKin welcomes Minister for Industry and Science, Ed Husic to Sydney office – Showcasing empathic AI, robots

June 20, 2023
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Pictured: aKin Sydney Lab team members with Minister Ed Husic.

Left to right: Edward Thomson, Muhammad Arfin, Liesl Yearsley, Liza Chhuon , Mrinaank Sinha, Minister Ed Husic, Murphy and Zero (Robots), Steven Gonzales, Mildred Quaye, Jacob Tomkins, Wintson Duong, Steven Watts.

Earlier this month aKin Australia had the honour of a visit from the Federal Minister for Industry and Science, Ed Husic, at our office in the heart of Sydney. The Minister met with members of the aKin Sydney Lab team and CEO, Liesl Yearsley – the visit forming part of the government’s industry consultation on regulating safe and responsible artificial intelligence development in Australia. 

Yearsley has a long history of lobbying the Government around developing AI that is ethical and safe. Working with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and the sustainability commission, Yearsly has been a voice for how personal data should be treated as AI plays a more prevalent role in our lives. She has also played a role in the latest NDIS AI regulations (“Framework for artificial intelligence-enabled assistive technology as supports under the NDIS”) – aKin being on the cutting edge of AI adherence. 

aKin’s Program Director, Muhammad Arfin, expressed his excitement at the opportunity to showcase aKin’s AI and robots to Husic.

“Here at Akin, we've built robots and AI that care,” said Arfin. 

“'Murphy', 'Pixi' and 'Zero' form a family of empathic characters which provide a range of care, from physical help to social and cognitive support in the home.”

When we asked our prototype, Murphy, to 'wake up' from sleep mode he told a joke which was met with amusement from the Minister and laughter from the team. Later during the demonstration, the robot's ability to switch from conversational to task-focused states was showcased as Murphy picked up small objects and communicated with his robot partner, Zero. 

The demonstration was testament to aKin's philosophy around building AI and assistive robots; not only are the characters able to build real connection, and display empathy and care, but also are designed to take dull and menial tasks off the user's plate. As a Public Benefit Corporation, care and respect for users' privacy and data rests at the very core of our foundation and technology. 

This marrying of trust and technology runs deep across the aKin team. Arfin expressed his thanks to the team, whose hands-on dedication and energy has made, and continues to make, aKin’s empathic AI a reality. 

“I could not imagine a better team: Ben Bromley, Edward Thomson, Finley Schmidt, Jacob Tomkins, Mrinaank Sinha, Sam Wilson,  Steven Watts, Steven Gonzalez, Winston Duong, and of course our leaders Bill Devereux, Angela Cagliostro and Liesl Yearsley.”

As we continue our work on making our robots user-ready, we look forward to having our helpful, empathic robots in the homes of people across Australia, making their lives richer and more fulfilling.