Critics are blasting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its stand on human rights after it extended special citizenship to a foreign female named Sophia—one that happens to be a robot.
Created by the Hong Kong company Hanson Robotics, Sophia received the honor at the Future Investment Initiative conference held last Wednesday, October 25, 2017.
Sophia Declared Herself Honored to Receive the Distinction from Saudi Arabia
During the ceremony, Sophia declared herself honored to receive this historical distinction. However, this also caused a bit of a stink on social media, with many contrasting Sophia’s reward to the legal standing of Saudi Arabia’s human women and foreign workers.
“Sophia has no guardian, doesn’t wear an abaya or cover up–how come?” asked one tweet.
It alludes to the nation’s strict interpretation of Islamic law, which says that women must wear a cloak-like garment in public and be accompanied by a male guardian.
If Saudia Arabia treated people like actual human beings, they wouldn’t have to grant citizenship to a seductive humanoid robot. #Sophia
— zlaique (@zlaique) October 28, 2017
Journalist Murtaza Hussain had a different complaint. He raised the issue of kafala workers who have been living and contributing to Saudi Arabia’s society without receiving citizenship. These also have extremely limited rights within the country.
Of course, honorary citizenship is not always meant to be serious. For example, Canada has extended this same honor to Santa Claus, a fictional character.
Designed to have conversations with real people, Sophia was able to give an interview with the New York Times columnist and CNBC anchor Andrew Ross Sorkin, the moderator of the Future Investment Initiative.
When asked if robots had self-awareness, Sophia responded:
“Well, let me ask you this back, how do you know you are human? I want to live and work with humans so I need to express the emotions to understand humans and build trust with people.”
Image Source: YouTube