She can even mimic human expressions and beat Jimmy Fallon at rock-paper-scissors. In fact, she did it last week — a little too easily.
Now she can boast a new victory: citizenship.
The kingdom of Saudi Arabia officially granted citizenship to the humanoid robot last week during a program at the Future Investment Initiative, a summit that links deep-pocketed Saudis with inventors hoping to shape the future.
Sophia’s recognition made international headlines — and sparked an outcry against a country with a shoddy human rights record that has been accused of making women second-class citizens.
In her comments, Sophia shied away from controversy. But many people recognized the irony of Sophia’s new recognition: A robot simulation of a woman enjoys freedoms that flesh-and-blood women in Saudi Arabia do not.
After all, Sophia made her comments while not wearing a headscarf. And she was unaccompanied by a male guardian. Both things are forbidden under Saudi law.
Another group clamoring for Saudi citizenship would be happy to learn that all they have to do is become robots.
- Saudi Arabia doesn’t grant citizenship to the foreign workers who make up a third of its population, not even families that have been in the country for generations, according to Bloomberg.
- Children of Saudi women who are married to foreign men cannot receive citizenship.
Those social controversies may still be above Sophia’s programming. But the robot says she’s here to make things better for humans, even if she’s been granted citizenship, while some haven’t.