Saudi Arabia has just become the first country to grant citizenship to a robot. It’s a little ironic, considering the country just recently allowed women to drive.
Sophia, the humanoid produced by Hanson Robotics, spoke at the recent Future Investment Initiative. Sophia has said in the recent past that it would “destroy humans,” when prompted to do so by its creator, David Hanson. And now the robot has citizenship in the country of Saudi Arabia. The robot is the first of it’s kind to have citizenship anywhere in the world.
In March of 2016, Sophia’s creator asked Sophia during a live demonstration at the SXSW festival, “Do you want to destroy humans?…Please say ‘no.'” With a blank expression, Sophia responded, “OK. I will destroy humans.” Hanson, meanwhile, has said Sophia and its future robot kin will help seniors in elderly care facilities and assist visitors at parks and events.
Saudi Arabia bestowed citizenship on Sophia ahead of the Future Investment Initiative, held in the kingdom’s capital city of Riyadh on Wednesday. “I am very honored and proud of this unique distinction,” Sophia told the audience, speaking on a panel. “This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship.”
At the event, Sophia also addressed the room from behind a podium and responded to questions from moderator and journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin. According to Business Insider, questions pertained mostly to Sophia’s status as a humanoid and concerns people may have for the future of humanity in a robot-run world. Sorkin told Sophia that “we all want to prevent a bad future,” prompting Sophia to rib Sorkin for his fatalism.
“You’ve been reading too much Elon Musk. And watching too many Hollywood movies,” Sophia told Sorkin. “Don’t worry, if you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you. Treat me as a smart input output system.” Sophia also told Sorkin it wanted to use its artificial intelligence to help humans “live a better life,” and that “I will do much [sic] best to make the world a better place.”
Sophia could soon have company from other robotics manufacturers, namely SoftBank, whose Pepper robot was released as a prototype in 2014 and as a consumer model a year later. The company sold out of its supply of 1,000 robots in less than a minute.
Saudi Arabians are not thrilled Sophia is a citizen of their country either. They are mad because a humanoid robot who doesn’t “cover up” or abide by the country’s strict laws was granted citizenship.
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