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Meet Sophia, the first robot to be granted citizenship by Saudi Arabia

Sophia took a jibe at tech founder Elon Mask, who is known for his views against artificial intelligence.

world Updated: Oct 27, 2017 20:54 IST
Saudi Arabia,Artificial Intelligence,Sophia the robot
Sophia, a humanoid robot developed by Hanson Robotics, was given citizenship by Saudi Arabia. (Screengrab)

Her name is Sophia. She looks a bit like Audrey Hepburn and gives facial expressions while talking. She has an answer for every question. And she is the first robot to be granted citizenship of Saudi Arabia.

Sophia is a humanoid robot developed by Hanson Robotics, who is programmed to be witty, was interviewed by business writer Andrew Ross Sorkin at a Future Investment Conference in Riyadh on Tuesday.

Sorkin also announced that Sophia had been awarded citizenship of the Middle Eastern kingdom, the first for any robot. Saudi Arabia is making an effort to promote itself as a destination to develop artificial intelligence and Sophia’s “citizenship” was a move to bolster the effort.

Audiences at the panel listened riveted as Sorkin grilled Sophia over artificial intelligence, her own programming and concerns over how robots could take over the world.

Sophia, who took to the podium to answer all questions, claimed that her only purpose was to “help humans live a better life. But Sorkin asked her to back up and address concerns over the rise of AI.

“Those sound like great goals..but go back to Blade Runner for a second,” said Sorkin.

Sophia, designed to be witty, took the opportunity to take a jibe at Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX and a staunch opponent of AI.

“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. Treat me as a smart input output system,” she said.

And don’t think that Elon Musk didn’t notice. The tech innovator tweeted a reply, “Just feed it The Godfather movies as input. What’s the worst that could happen?”

Saudi Arabia’s decision to grant Sophia citizenship also raised quite a few eyebrows, as many commentators pointed out the country’s dismal record when it comes to giving equal rights to women. Sophia addressed the crowd without the customary headscarf and abaya, which Saudi women are required to wear.

Critics of the country’s laws circulated the Arabic hashtag #Sophia_calls_for_dropping_guardianship, which was used more than 10,000 times to date.

Watch | Sophia’s full interview with Andrew Sorkin at the Riyadh conference :

First Published: Oct 27, 2017 18:08 IST