When it comes to choosing a commencement speaker, colleges and universities take different approaches. Some go local, selecting well-known figures in the area. Others take a stately route, opting for a former or current politician. Actors or comedians are often asked to speak.

But in a world where artificial intelligence is everywhere, one university in New York opted for a robot using artificial intelligence to speak to graduates over the weekend.

For its spring commencement on Saturday, D’Youville University, a private institution in Buffalo, had an A.I. robot named Sophia address a crowd of more than 2,000 students, faculty members and their families in a bold decision that drew mixed reactions.

Dr. Lorrie Clemo, the president of D’Youville University, said in an interview on Wednesday that the university wanted to open up new perspectives around A.I., given its “rapid emergence into the broad society.”

“We wanted to showcase how important technology is, and the potential for technology to really enrich the human experience,” Dr. Clemo said.

Aside from the fact that Sophia is a robot, its address was far from conventional in other ways. Sophia did not wear the typical cap and gown that commencement speakers usually don, but instead wore a black-and-red D’Youville University hoodie.


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