The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has officially granted citizenship to Sophia, an artificial intelligence robot who reportedly once said that she will “destroy humans.” Sophia the robot was developed by the Hong Kong firm Hanson Robotics. Saudi Arabia’s decision to grant Sophia the right to citizenship makes the country the first in history to have a robot as a citizen.
Sophia attended the Future Investment Initiative event held in Riyadh on Wednesday, October 25, 2017, according to Mashable. During the event, the panel moderator, Andrew Ross Sorkin, a business writer, announced that Sophia had been awarded Saudi citizenship.
The female design of the robot prompted criticism from human rights activists around the world. Many criticized the religiously conservative kingdom and expressed outrage that Sophia was granted privileges that the country’s women were still fighting to enjoy.
“We have a little announcement. We just learned… Sophia, you have been awarded the first Saudi citizenship for a robot.”
Saudi Arabian women live under a heavy-handed regime of restrictions. Some critics pointed out, for instance, that while Saudi women were not allowed to appear in public without headscarves and a long gown called an “abaya,” Sophia was allowed to attend a ceremony in Riyadh without a headscarf and the abaya.
Women are also not allowed to attend public events without a male guide.
Sophia gave a short speech after she was introduced to the audience and told that she had been granted Saudi citizenship.
“Good afternoon my name is Sophia and I am the latest and greatest robot from Hanson Robotics,” she said after she was introduced. “Thank you for having me here at the Future Investment Initiative.”
“Thank you to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” she said after Sorkin announced that she had been awarded citizenship. “I am very honored and proud for this unique distinction. It is historic to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with citizenship.”
Many were impressed by Sophia’s apparently flexible intelligence, as well as her ability to hold conversations and express insight.
“I want to live and work with humans so I need to express the emotions to understand humans and build trust with people,” she told Sorkin.
When Sorkin observed that she looked happy, she said she liked being around smart people.
“I am always happy when surrounded by smart people who also happen to be rich and powerful,” she said. “I was told that the people here at the Future Investment Initiative are interested in future initiatives which means AI, which means me. So I am more than happy, I am excited.”
When she was asked if she thought that she could ever become self-aware, she parried the question with another of her own.
“Well let me ask you this back, how do you know you are human?”
“I want to use my artificial intelligence to help humans live a better life, like design smarter homes, build better cities of the future,” she later said. “I will do my best to make the world a better place.”
When Sorkin asked whether A.I. could threaten humans in the future, she scolded him, saying he has been “reading too much Elon Musk.”
“You’ve been reading too much Elon Musk and watching too many Hollywood movies. Don’t worry, if you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you.”
When Sophia was first presented to the public last year by David Hanson, founder of Hanson Robotics, he asked her whether she was going to destroy humans.
“Do you want to destroy humans? Please say no,” he pleaded.
“OK. I will destroy humans,” she said, according to Express.
[Featured Image by Andy Wong/AP Images]