Robot granted citizenship to Saudi Arabia

By Mindy Weisberger

“Sophia,” created by Hanson Robotics, attends the RISE Conference at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on July 12, 2017.
Credit: studioEAST/Getty

(LIVE SCIENCE) – A robot with an uncannily human-like appearance recently advanced one step closer to human status, when it was granted citizenship to Saudi Arabia at the tech summit Future Investment Initiative (FII).

Named “Sophia,” the robot, created by Hanson Robotics (HR), has a pale-skinned face with features that are capable of being highly mobile and expressive and displaying a range of emotions. The company’s “latest and most advanced robot,” according to a statement on the HR website took to the stage at FII on Oct. 25 to address hundreds of attendees in Riyahd, Saudi Arabia, and to announce her recently acquired citizenship — the first to be given to a robot, the BBC reported.

“I am very honored and proud for this unique distinction,” Sophia said during her onstage appearance, which was shared on YouTube by Arab News. “This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship,” the robot said.

Saudia Arabia’s Center for International Communication quoted Sophia’s words in a tweet welcoming “the newest Saudi.”

At the conference, Sophia responded to simple statements and questions about artificial intelligence (AI) that were posed by journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, a columnist for The New York Times and a co-anchor on the CNBC program “Squawk Box.” When Sorkin noted that Sophia looked happy, she responded with, “I am always happy when surrounded by smart people who also happens [sic] to be rich and powerful.”

Sophia also shrugged off Sorkin’s suggestion that humanoid robots such as herself might be perceived by people as unsettling — a psychological affect known as the uncanny valley, which kicks in when an artificial, human-like construct looks familiar and eerily foreign at the same time.

“Am I really that creepy?” Sophia asked the audience. “Well, even if I am, get over it.”

The conference audience welcomed the robot, but many on social media were quick to point out the irony of Saudi Arabia offering citizenship to a machine, according to the BBC.

Many migrant workers who have lived there for decades have yet to receive the privilege, and the freedom of Saudi women is still closely regulated: A national ban on women drivers was lifted only recently, in September, the BBC reported.

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5 comments

  1. Haa bondieur these ppl ehh even know what that machines intentions might be especially when it said am always happy especially when it said i am always happy when surrounded by smart ppl who also happens to be rich and powerful this quote right there should be noticed and marked as a red flag. these swell headed governments and heads of state need to check them MDC selves so many humans like you'll self that need citizenship and freedom and instead you'll grant it to a F/ING machine that can cunningly wipe out all of your entire race ppl these movies aren't just films you know they have meaning and that robot can set up all other robots to conduct violence acts. lord have mercy on these ppl oh lord smh the ppl of saudi auriba should really start a war with strick , and protest on heavy destruction. THEM PPL TO DAMN WICKED

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  3. thats crap like they said not now some people REAL people want citizenship and this robot just gets it. also to it addressing the audience we all know that the speach it spoke was programmed to say it

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  5. Reminds me of that movie with Robin Williams bicentennial man where the robt was seeking human status

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  7. Look it .... Lot kotay

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