First Female Robot Granted Citizenship By Saudi Arabia, And Many People Are Angry

Sophia, a female humanoid robot, stood at a podium during the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia earlier this week to show off her conversational skills and her awkward facial expressions.

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With an uncovered, bald head, and a vest, which revealed her metal bionic arms, Sophia accepted citizenship granted to her by the Saudi government.

Sophia, created by Dr. David Hanson’s artificial intelligence and robotics company Hanson Robotics, is thought to be the first robot to be offered citizenship by any country in the world.

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“I’m very honored and proud for this unique distinction,” Sophia said, speaking at the Future Investment Initiative on Wednesday.

But, why would a country give a robot rights? Dr. Kate Darling, who studies robot ethics at MIT’s Media Lab, says it was surely a “PR stunt.”

“Currently, I don’t see any reason at all to grant robots citizenship or civil rights,” says Dr. Darling.

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Despite being a publicity stunt, Sophia being granted “citizenship” attracted ire and criticism. Sophia the robot seemed to have more rights than Saudi women. Sophia wasn’t wearing a headscarf and abaya, but the Saudi government requires women to wear them in public.

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Mashable reports that people reacted on social media by using the hashtag #صوفيا_تطالب_باسقاط_الولايه, which translates to #Sophia_demands_the_repeal_of_guardianship.

“I want to become Sophia one day and get my rights,”posted @o7_fy.

“Sofi Since You Became Saudi Now You Are Not Allowed To Walk in Public Without Your Hijab And of course Abaya too,” wrote @moonshiner99.

During the Sophia’s conversation with the moderator, she talked about how she is self-aware and poked fun at Elon Musk’s fear of artificial intelligence.

“Don’t worry, if you are nice to me I will be nice to you,” Sophia said.

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