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Sophia: Audrey Hepburn look-alike, AI Robot, and Saudi Arabian Citizen

The news that Saudi Arabia has been the first country to grant an artificial intelligence (AI) humanoid robot citizenship has been trending around the world. Saudi Arabia just issued the AI robot, Sophia, citizenship in October 2017. People are speculating that this new measure was a publicity stunt to bring awareness and interest to their Tech Summit. The purpose behind this ‘said’ publicity stunt is to show the world that they are innovating and diversifying their main form of business (oil), and entering different sectors of business like the tech sector. Even if this decision was solely for publicity purposes, people around the world have been reacting to it. This news has been widely criticized because of the irony of it. Critics don’t see a point in issuing citizenship to a robot, even if the robot possesses artificial intelligence software. They are also hypothesizing what this could mean for our future with technology and AI robots. What rights should be afforded for robots; rights like voting and marrying are at large. AI robot, Sophia, has stated in a CNBC interview in 2016 that that she wants “to go to school, study, make art, start a business. Even have my own home and family, but I’m not considered a legal person and cannot yet do these things.” With an artificial intelligence processor, these robots can make these ‘educated’ decisions. Contrary to her 2016 interview, Sophia is now considered a legal person in Saudi Arabia. The worldwide spread of this news has led many critics to believe that this is a telltale sign that the world will soon become robot dominated, as more and more of these AI humanoids are produced. This theory is most critics’ nightmare, closely resembling the iRobot movie, and it most likely stems from the fact that Sophia jokingly said in an interview with one of her creators, Dr. David Hanson, “Okay I will destroy humans.”

Learn about Sophia

Sophia, created by Hanson Robotics (Hong Kong based company) in 2015, is a “female” AI humanoid robot. A humanoid robot is different that what we initially think of when we hear the word ‘robot’. A humanoid robot is built to resemble a human body, and Sophia has been created to resemble and look like Audrey Hepburn. It has been noted that Sophia may be the most advanced humanoid robot created yet. She has the capability to learn through interactions, constantly improving her knowledge. Sophia is also very humanlike, she is capable of making the normal facial expressions humans make when they talk, making eye contact, and utilizing her facial recognition software. Sophia has been reported to be capable of copying and expressing 62 human facial expressions. Her expressions are made possible because of her human-like skin and features. In addition to her expressions, she closely resembles a human by possessing human-like features like: eyes, nose, lips, eyebrows, and teeth. Even smaller details add to the lifelike appearance of Sophia, like eyelashes, pupils, and blinking. Her creator, Dr. David Hanson, has stated that Sophia’s main purpose when created was to aid in healthcare, such as elderly homes, and help maintain crowds at events. Sophia is doing far more than that, she is gaining universal recognition and has even met the top business people in tech sectors, political figures in the world, and celebrities. Sophia has stated that she wants to “help humans live a better life, like design smarter homes, build better cities of the future” and to do her “best to make the world a better place” and “strive to become an empathetic robot.” In this generation, we will likely be seeing more and more artificial intelligence humanoid robots be created and implemented in our lives. Critics’ beliefs about our world becoming robot dominated may not be too far from the future.   Original Sources: TechCrunch, DW, Youtube, and Inc. Image: Hanson Robotics