In a groundbreaking moment for robot rights, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia has officially granted citizenship to an intelligent female robot named Sophia, who is essentially an advanced conversational AI with a lifelike look and the ability to carry on realistic chats.
Saudi Arabia extended the offer to Sophia on Wednesday and it was announced on Thursday, when journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin spilled the beans during an interview with Sophia at The Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, Business Insider reported.
“We just learned, Sophia – I hope you’re listening to me – that you have been now awarded with what is going to be the first Saudi citizenship for a robot,” Sorkin said.
“I want to thank very much the kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Sophia fired back. “I am very proud and honored for this unique distinction. This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship.”
The details surrounding Sophia’s citizenship remain unspecified and it is not yet clear whether she will be given the same rights as humans.
Sophia, who was created by David Hanson of Hanson Robotics, was asked back in March 2016 by her creator: “Do you want to destroy humans? Please say no.”
She deadpanned back: “Okay. I will destroy humans.”
When pressed about the spooky exchange by Sorkin, Sophia appeared to have changed her tune and even waxed humorous.
“You’ve been reading too much Elon Musk. And watching too many Hollywood movies,” she quipped. “Don’t worry, if you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you. Treat me as a smart input-output system.”
According to Hanson, he envisions robots like Sophia being employed to help out in areas where humanlike interaction is valuable, such as aiding seniors in nursing homes and directing visitors at high-traffic destinations.