Sophia, a semi-realistic humanoid robot with a range of uncanny facial expressions, has been granted citizenship by Saudi Arabia in a global first. Created by Hong Kong-based firm Hanson Robotics, Sophia debuted in March 2016 and has been interviewed around the world since then, from the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to the Future Investment Initiative held in Saudi Arabia’s capital city of Riyadh this week. She’s perhaps best-known for saying, “Okay, I will destroy all humans.”
Of course, if you watch the video and get the context, you can see that this is a leading question from her creator David Hanson, and Sophia has clearly been prepared with a few different snappy responses.
In Riyadh, moderator and journalist Andrew Sorkin told Sophia that many people are concerned about the future of humanity in a world run mostly by robots. She replied, “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.”
Keeping in mind that Sophia is considered the world’s most advanced humanoid robot at present; we probably don’t have too much to worry about for now. Sophia’s lauded ’62 facial expressions’ still reside firmly in Uncanny Valley, so nobody is going to be confusing an android for a real human anytime soon, and people who have interacted with her report that it feels like talking to a less sophisticated version of Siri, whose responses often seem ripped straight from Wikipedia.
Still, the offer of citizenship has garnered Saudi Arabia some criticism as people wonder whether such acts will be a slippery slope toward the Skynet future we’ve been fearing for decades.
Here’s what Hanson Robotics has to say about Sophia.
“Sophia is Hanson Robotics’ latest and most advanced robot. She has also become a media darling, having given numerous interviews to multiple media outlets, sang in a concert, and even graced the cover of one of the top fashion magazines. One of her interviews has generated billions of views and social media interactions.”
“She has also shown her potential in business, having met face-to-face with key decision makers across industries including banking, insurance, auto manufacturing, property development, media and entertainment. In addition, she has appeared onstage as a panel member and presenter in high-level conferences, covering how robotics and artificial intelligence will become a prevalent part of people lives.”
“Sophia is an evolving genius machine. Her incredible human likeness, expressiveness, and remarkable story as an awakening robot Over time, her increasing intelligence and remarkable story will enchant the world and connect with people regardless of age, gender, and culture.“