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In a first, Saudi Arabia grants citizenship to a robot

Friday October 27, 2017 5:24 PM, & Agencies

Saudi Robot Sophia
[Sophia the robot, pictured in Hong Kong in July, was made a Saudi citizen at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh. Photograph: (AFP)]

Saudi Arabia has made the advanced lifelike humanoid robot "Sophia" a citizen, becoming the first country to grant citizenship to a robot.

Sophia, an artificially intelligent robot, developed by the Hong Kong-based firm Hanson Robotics, was presented Wednesday at the Future Investment Initiative in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Sophia made headlines this week when she was chosen to moderate a session at the Future Investment Initiative conference.

"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."

However, Saudis did not detail the citizenship status of the flirtatious "Sophia," which has life-like facial and eye expressions and can converse through cloud-based artificial intelligence.

Questions remain as to whether she will be required to wear a headscarf and loose, black robes in public in accordance with the kingdom's dress code.

While Sophia has some impressive capabilities, she does not yet have consciousness, Sophia's creator, David Hanson previously said he expected that fully sentient machines could emerge within a few years.

Sophia stood as a symbolic gesture of Saudi Arabia’s plan to include more robots than humans at the mega NEOM project that will see the kingdom build a new city powered by solar and wind energy.



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