A robot named Sophia became the first android in the world to be granted citizenship. Saudi Arabia bestowed the honor on the humanoid machine created by Hanson Robotics in advance of the Future Investment Initiative in the capital city of Riyadh.
With a blank stare and only a flicker of emotion, Sophia made a brief acceptance speech, which you can watch in the video above. “I am very honored and proud of this unique distinction,” Sophia said. “This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship.”
The kingdom didn’t provide any details on what the distinction actually meant. One might presume she now has the rights of other female Saudi Arabian citizens, meaning she can’t leave the house unaccompanied by a male guardian and won’t be able to drive until June 2018.
At the event, Sophia also answered questions from journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, who acted as a moderator. Responding to Sorkin’s comments about the possibility of conflict between robots and humans, Sophia brushed off the concerns. “You’ve been reading too much Elon Musk. And watching too many Hollywood movies,” Sophia said. “Don’t worry, if you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you.”
It didn’t take long for Musk to respond on Twitter.
Just feed it The Godfather movies as input. What’s the worst that could happen? https://t.co/WX4Kx45csv
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 26, 2017
Sophia has her own website and has made numerous media appearances, including The Tonight Show, where she joked about her plans to “dominate the human race.” Although some researchers have warned about the dangers of rampaging killer sex robots, Hanson Robotics maintains that Sophia and robots like her are designed to help seniors in elderly care facilities and assist visitors at amusement parks.
Modeled after Audrey Hepburn, Sophia was created by David Hanson, who started his career in robotics at Disney as one of its “Imagineers.” According to its website, Hanson Robotics wants to create “genius machines that are smarter than humans and can learn creativity, empathy and compassion.”
Despite the effusive praise for its new creation, there may still be reason for concern. At a live demonstration at the SXSW festival in March 2016, Hanson asked Sophia, “Do you want to destroy humans? … Please say ‘no.'” After pondering the question, Sophia answered, “OK. I will destroy humans.”
No reason to worry; it was no doubt just a small glitch in the voice recognition software. Just like what Dave encountered with HAL during that pod bay door incident.
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