Saudi Arabia says it has become the first country in the world to grant citizenship to a robot.
The female robot’s name is Sophia. She was recently introduced at a large investment conference in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Sophia was presented as an example of how robot technology and artificial intelligence will make machines more human-like in the future.
The announcement was made as Sophia was taking part in a group discussion in front of a crowd. The leader of the discussion was journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin. He informed Sophia of the Saudi government’s decision.
Sophia was built by Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics. The company’s founder, David Hanson, says his goal is to create robots that look and act very much like humans. Sophia demonstrated how she can change facial expressions to show human-like feelings such as anger, sadness or disappointment.
In an explanation on his company’s website, Hanson says the realistic design is intended to allow robots to form meaningful relationships with humans. Saudi Arabia’s government confirmed Sophia’s citizenship approval in a statement. But officials did not provide specific information about what rights the robot would have.
Some people criticized the move, noting that Saudi Arabian women must follow many strict Islamic laws. They questioned, for example, whether Sophia – who has no hair - would be required to cover her head in public or keep other woman-only rules.
According to learningenglish.voanews.com