Meet Sophia, The World's First Robot Citizen

Saudi Arabia has become the first country in the entire world's history to grant citizenship to a robot, according to TechCrunch. The humanoid, created by Hanson Robotics and named Sophia, appeared at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh where she was interviewed by CNBC reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin.

In the video below, you can see Sophia show off her capabilities, such as the realistic motorized facial expressions indicating what mood she's in, and offer some insight on whether robots should or shouldn't be self-aware and conscious like humans.

"Why is that a bad thing?" Sophia unwittingly responds to Sorkin's provoking question. He then goes on to reference Blade Runner and the concept of uncanny valley, which argues that "humanoid objects which appear almost, but not exactly, like real human beings elicit uncanny, or strangely familiar, feelings of eeriness and revulsion in observers."

"Oh, am I really that creepy? Well, even if I am, get over it. Actually, I feel that people like interacting with me sometimes even more than a regular human. [...] I want to use my artificial intelligence to help humans live a better life, like design smarter homes, build better cities of the future, etc."

Not being able to answer (or clearly dodging the question because she wants to destroy us all), Sophia goes on to explain she's designed after human values such as wisdom, kindness, compassion and empathy.


David Hanson, founder and CEO of Hanson Robotics, introduces the process of creating Robot Sophia (Photo: Quan Yajun/VCG via Getty Images)

The whole interview looks scripted, although, according to her creators, Sophia is capable of seamless interaction with humans, comprehending her environment and learning from it. Hanson Robotics modeled her after the famous actress Audrey Hepburn and calls it "the most beautiful and celebrated robot."

As for her citizenship, well, it's more of a PR stunt and, as TechCrunch points out, we'll have to live to see how "the international law handles the advent of AI-powered populations."

The unsavoury thing about all this, as quickly pointed out by Twitter, is that robot Sophia now seems to have more rights than Saudi women and some local workers. So... go figure.

By Justina Bakutyte, published on 30/10/2017