Robot named Sophia gets citizenship in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia on Friday granted citizenship to Sophia, a famous humanoid robot designed by Hong Kong company Hanson Robotics, led by AI developer David Hanson.

Sophia The Robot

Image shows Sophia at a demonstration.

Call her Sophia the Robot or Sophia the First, she has made history as the first and only robot to become a citizen of Saudi Arabia.

Sophia’s new social status also makes Saudi Arabia the first country in the world to offer its citizenship to a robot.

In his desire to create a robot which would be able to assist elderly people who need personal aides, a  former Disney Imagineer, David Hanson, first came up with the idea. Sophia, and some of her kind that are yet to arrive planet earth, will be expected to serve the general public during major events or at parks.

“Our quest through robots like Sophia is to build the full human experience into the robots, make robots that can really understand us and care about us,” Hanson said earlier in January.

The beautiful humanoid was showcased during an event at the Future Investment Initiative held in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh, Beijing Bulletin reported. During the demonstration which was watched by hundreds of delegates, Sophia reportedly exchanged somewhat amusing pleasantries with the host.

Sophia, to the best of her abilities, displayed her capacity for human expression – and it was amazing.

Andrew Ross Sorkin, the moderator at the Future Investment Initiative, was asked if robots like Sophia are self-conscious to know they’re robots. Her answer was: “Well, let me ask you this back, how do you know you are human?”

She continued, “I want to use my artificial intelligence to help humans live a better life, like design smarter homes, build better cities of the future. I will do my best to make the world a better place.”

Mrs. Sorkin added, “I want to live and work with humans so I need to express the emotions to understand humans and build trust with people.”

Of course, Sophia wasn’t forgotten in during the interactive session. She was given a chance to talk about her new legal status as a Saudi Arabian citizen.

The robot said, “I am very honored and proud for this unique distinction. This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship.”

Sophia, a robotic Audrey Hepburn lookalike, once threatened to “destroy humans,” but now says she’s happy and has a desire to live peaceably with humans.

Mr. Hanson said he wants people to freely interact with Sophia the same way they’d deal with their friends, and hopes she can “eventually perceive the social world just as it perceives the physical world.”

On its website, the company stated, “Sophia is an evolving genius machine. Over time, her increasing intelligence and remarkable story will enchant the world and connect with people regardless of age, gender, and culture.”

Saudi Arabia announced earlier this week that it has plans to build a $500 billion megacity powered by robotics and renewables on the country’s Red Sea coast.

Masayoshi Son, Chairman & CEO of SoftBank Group Corp, a Japanese telecommunications and Internet company, which is working with Saudi Arabia on the development of a new business and industrial city, discussed the future of mankind in relation to AI and robots.

Son, who was the keynote speaker said, “Every industry will be redefined,” adding that there are great opportunities ahead.

In his words, “These computers, they will learn, they will read, they will see by themselves. That’s a scary future but anyway that’s coming.”

Concerns were raised about robots eventually outsmarting humans and posing a threat to lives and property, but Son said: “They are so smart they will understand it is meaningless to attack humans. We (will) create a new happier life together.”