We have completed maintenance on DiscoverMagazine.com and action may be required on your account. Learn More

Saudi Arabia Grants Citizenship to Robot

By Lauren Sigfusson
Oct 27, 2017 9:16 PMNov 19, 2019 8:24 PM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Sophia has porcelain skin, defined cheekbones and quite a flashy smile. She's also a robot. Ahead of Wednesday’s Future Investment Initiative event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, officials granted this humanoid robot citizenship, making Sophia the first robot to receive citizenship anywhere in the world. The bot, made by Hanson Robotics, is modeled to look like Audrey Hepburn (does Sophia do Audrey justice?). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMrX08PxUNY Throughout the interview, Sophia flashed a somewhat eerie, unnatural looking smile—at one point trying to fool us all, saying she feels positive most of the time. Journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin asked Sophia, “Can robots be self-aware, conscious and know they’re robots?” Sophia quickly responded with, “How do you know you are human?” If this doesn't scream the show Westworld, then you have a new series to watch. Sophia also poked fun at Elon Musk and Hollywood.

Our @andrewrsorkin, interviewing “Sophia” the robot, of Hanson Robotics:@CNBC@elonmuskpic.twitter.com/Dzw8jS5YSB

— Carl Quintanilla (@carlquintanilla) October 25, 2017

Just feed it The Godfather movies as input. What’s the worst that could happen? https://t.co/WX4Kx45csv — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 26, 2017

News that Saudi Arabia granted citizenship to a robot has evoked backlash, with some saying that robots now have more rights there than human women

. While known for being a major oil exporter, the country isn't known for having a shining reputation regarding women’s rights—in June, Saudi women were just granted the right to drive

cars beginning in 2018. But should robots be granted similar rights as their blood-pumping creators? Lawyer and lecturer at Curtin University Kyle Bowyer points out that some corporations are already treated similar to humans. "Assigning rights and duties to an inanimate object or software program independent of their creators may seem strange," he said in an article at The Conversation

. "However, with corporations we already see extensive rights and obligations given to fictitious legal entities. What do you think: Should a robot, legally, share some of the same rights as humans?

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.