For the First Time Ever, a Country Gave a Robot Citizenship

The world has its first robotic citizen in a humanoid robot with an advanced range of emotions.


Saudi Arabia became the first country in the world to grant citizenship to a robot. On October 25th, at the Future Investment Initiative summit in the capital Riyadh, it was announced that Sophia, a humanoid robot developed by Hanson Robotics, became a Saudi citizen. 

Sophia was designed in the image of the actress Audrey Hepburn and has already become somewhat of a celebrity, appearing on the Tonight Show and at various global conferences.

The website of the Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics, led by AI developer David Hanson, describes her as an “evolving genius machine,” whose intelligence increases over time. Her AI is based on the humanistic traits of  creativity, empathy and compassion.

The panel in Saudi Arabia where Sophia’s citizenship was announced included experts from top AI and robotics companies and research institutions. They talked about innovations in AI, quantum computing, machine learning and other emerging technologies. 


Chief scientist of Hanson Robotics, Ben Goertzel (R), interacts with 'Sophia the Robot' (L) during a discussion about the future of humanity in a demonstration of artificial intelligence (AI) by Hanson Robotics at the RISE Technology Conference in Hong Kong on July 12, 2017. (Photo credit: ISAAC LAWRENCE/AFP/Getty Images)

During the presentation, Sophia demonstrated her range of human expression.

“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 said.

Sophia also laid out how her goal of getting accepted by humans - 

“I want to live and work with humans so I need to express the emotions to understand humans and build trust with people,” said Sophia in an exchange with the summit’s moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin.

At another point of the same conversation, Sophia took some digs at Elon Musk, an infamous sceptic of robot intentions. The Tesla CEO has warned on numerous occasions about the dangers advanced AI may pose to humans. When told about concerns people have of a robot-run future, Sophia showed some backbone:

"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." 

Never one to resist talking about this issue, Musk joked about the robot's trolling on Twitter, saying "Just feed it The Godfather movies as input. What's the worst that could happen?". 

Sophia has previously raised some alarms about her plans for humanity when in 2016 she replied to the question of "Do you want to destroy humans?” with "OK. I will destroy humans."

At the event in Riyadh, when asked if robots can be self-aware, the snarky robot shot back - “Well let me ask you this back, how do you know you are human?” 

She also explained how she would help the human race with her intelligence:

 “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,” she said. 

Here’s Sophia speaking at the conference:

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Wealth inequality is literally killing us. The economy should work for everyone.

This economy has us in survival mode, stressing out our bodies and minds.

Videos
  • Economic hardship is linked to physical and psychological illness, resulting in added healthcare expenses people can't afford.
  • The gig economy – think Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit, Handy – is marketed as a 'be your own boss' revolution, but it can be dehumanizing and dangerous; every worker is disposable.
  • The cooperative business model can help reverse wealth inequality.
Keep reading Show less

The most culturally chauvinist people in Europe? Greeks, new research suggests.

Meanwhile, Spaniards are the least likely to say their culture is superior to others.

Image: Pew Research Center
Strange Maps
  • Survey by Pew Research Center shows great variation in chauvinism across Europe.
  • Eight most chauvinist countries are in the east, and include Russia.
  • British much more likely than French (and slightly more likely than Germans) to say their culture is "superior" to others.
Keep reading Show less

People who engage in fat-shaming tend to score high in this personality trait

A new study explores how certain personality traits affect individuals' attitudes on obesity in others.

Pixabay
Mind & Brain
  • The study compared personality traits and obesity views among more than 3,000 mothers.
  • The results showed that the personality traits neuroticism and extraversion are linked to more negative views and behaviors related to obesity.
  • People who scored high in conscientiousness are more likely to experience "fat phobia.
Keep reading Show less