a Computer gets Official Citizenship - meet Sophia

in ai •  11 months ago

We are making again a step to bring technology and humans closer together; Well Saudi Arabia made this next step for us: For the first time, a country has granted citizenship to a robot. The AI ​​robot Sophia is now a citizen of Saudi Arabia.

But there is much criticism because she looks very different from other Saudi women.

The news was announced at the Future Investment Initiative (here), a meeting on innovation and investment in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.

Sophia is the most advanced robot created by Hanson Robotics. She can animate a full range of facial expression, and can track and recognize faces, look people in the eye, and hold natural conversations with them. Sophia made her debut at the South by Southwest show in March 2016. Since then, she has become a much-sought-after media personality. She has done numerous press interviews, garnering over one billion engagements on a CNBC online coverage. She has also appeared on CBS 60 Minutes with Charlie Rose, the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Good Morning Britain, and has been a keynote and panel speaker at some of the world’s leading conferences. Sophia was featured in AUDI’s annual report and graced the cover and centerfold of ELLE magazine.

Critics criticise the fact a robot becoming a citizen in a country where women are not treated the same as men. Unlike women in Saudi Arabia, Sophia does not wear a headscarf with abaya and she does not have a male guardian.

Such a male guardian is obliged for Saudi women when they are in publicity. The man, - usually a relative - takes decisions for the woman.

"A robot is not human," says Jan Smits, professor of Law and Technology at the University of Technology Eindhoven, the Netherlands. "But a plane didn't had a nationality for a ling time until children were born."

Those rules were devised later, and according to Smits, it also happens for robots.

International organisations have already considered it. They concluded that a robot is a product and must listen to humans. "Therefore, a robot can never be matched with humans," says Smits. "The status of a robot is to a certain extent comparable to the legal structure of a legal person in the Netherlands."

The Saudi people welcome the development. The Arab hashtag # Robot _ with _ Saudi _ nationality has been used 30,000 times in the first 24 hours, according to the BBC.

"That's not so bad because Twitter is very popular in the country," says Robbert Woltering, Associate Professor Arabic Language and Culture. "In principle, it is in line with the modernisation of women's rights."

For example, women can now get their driving license and can also celebrate the national holiday.

Personal View & Questions


I personally think it is not possible to determine at this stage if AI can never get the same treatment as humans, that AI shall always listen to humans. It is somehow logical humans make this statement, but we do not know if AI can develop a consciousness, or not. Only time will tell. With regard to the topic of Saudi Arabia giving citizenship to Sophia, I have no issue with that at all. It may indeed help the position of women in that country.

  • Do you think AI will be able to develop a consciousness?
  • Are you afraid of AI becoming super intelligent?
  • Shall laws put in place to give boundaries to what AI is allowed to do?


media sources [1][2][3]
knowledge sources [1][2][3]

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To me this developement is becoming a bit scary. Why the need to create consciousness for a machine. And then still want to create limits to the android being its rights?

As if they then would be our servants, not a nice way to be self-conscious. Human beings already are having a hard time getting passed that for themselves. Therefore I would find it very questionable to set limits to the rights of the newly created beings.

The danger that I see is that when consciouness is being reached, or the android being is self-aware, or beliefs it is, it will want to survive too. Just like their creator, the human beings.

At some point though the android beings will become aware of their being superior to the human beings, in every thinkable way. That will be the moment when human beings will become superfluous.

If something can be done, proving a level of human intelligence, sometimes can be the opposite of wisdom. Machines capable of substantive learning could be an addition, but it might be wise to leave them to be unconscious.

Just look how we, the human species, handle other species and nature. Then what we create, after our own image, what will that become...?

So, self-aware Artificial Intelligence to me is a no go area.

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So, self-aware Artificial Intelligence to me is a no go area.

I would want to say the same because of all the reasons you gave. However, technology cannot and will not be stopped. Even if we would have laws against AI and consciousness developments, there will always be engineers and people in general who will develop it. Therefor I really like the approach Elon Musk is taking with Neuralink. He basically prepares the world for AI and maximise the success of humans living together with such AI by trying to enhance the humans with additional brain power through computer integration. IMHO AI will for sure become more intelligent than humans, enormous more intelligent, and even with or without AI being conscious, that in itself will be harmful for human existence. By adding computer capacity to the human brain, we may stay on par with the intelligence levels of AI; At least that is the idea behind Neuralink.

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Yes, I know it will move into that direction. But still it is not something that I am looking forward too...

Thanks for the link, will have a look into that later.

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Haaaa, indeed, I suppose none of the humans are really looking forward to the facts AI will become super intelligent and self sufficient. I'm not either. But yeh, I think we have to deal with it and find ways to protect the human race to be wiped out.

Neuralink is looking for lot of people, developers mostly, so if you want to help them, move to San Francisco, their job openings are there :)

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If you're going to San Francisco... Reminded me of a song. :-)

Will have a look into it. ;-)

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SF is nice actually, bit expensive though :) A 'small' drive to Burning Man, making it very attractive for me to live :) And weather is also very nice, blue skies most of the time, and not to warm.

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I am all for the human brain getting a "brain booster" through AI. But, please, no robots reproducing baby robots. Can't you just see baby robots learning to crawl!

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no robots reproducing baby robots

Done already, our University in Groningen showed earlier this year a baby robot born from a 'father' and 'mother' robot...they were simply spider like mechanic pieces but they implemented the human way of re-production in terms of gens and DNA to show case the possibilities of artificial evolution.

AI is not consciousness. How can that statement be made when we do not even understand the nature of our own consciousness.

AI is product.

The only reason this development is happening, AI being granted citizenship, is TAX.

The EU is already considering a tax for robotic workers.

Further, AI WILL be weaponised. It is just to tempting for the military.

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Oh for sure AI will have it's bad side of things. Just yesterday I watched the movie Bladerunner 2049. It is about AI being so similar to humans (from the outside) and a society having procedures and rules to make sure AI will not harm humans race. AI will reach that level IMHO. For sure not now, but maybe indeed in 2049. Or sooner, or later (but not too much later). For now, I don't think Saudi gave citizenship because of taxes since they don't really need tax income in that country, not from workers at least. But too be honest, I didn't research the topic of in its greatest detail so I may have missed out on the hidden plans of Saudi.

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Empathy is what AI will lack. It can not feel what we do. It may mimic, but it will never feel. For it to empathise with us, it has to be built as limited and frail as we are.

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It is my believe AI will become more intelligent than humans; This is likely without a real counsiouness. The challenge will be for us humans for this super intelligent AI not to go after humans and eliminate them. Reason I'm saying AI will get more intelligent is simply the development of super fast computing power through eg technologies like quantum computing. I'm in favour of developments done by eg Neuralink; They try to create APIs to extend human brains with computing power. This may be the only way humans can keep up with AI and with that protect the human race from being wiped out. In terms of the human law and AI; It is the BIG question of debate in the legal community if and how AI shall be incorporated.

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Yes, again, follow the money. The push to have AI recognised as a legal person is to absolve the manufacturers or the owners of the AI in the case of accidents, injury, death or destruction of property.

Think about the idiocy of this. If you unintentionally damaged or even destroyed the AI, then you would facing charges of manslaughter or murder, instead of destruction of property.

AI is a construct, not a living entity.

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AI is a construct, not a living entity.

That maybe true, at least when we are not able to give AI some kind of awareness. But what if at some point in time, AI is acting so much like a human, humans do not see the difference, humans get attached to AI like they can attach to humans, maybe even marry AI? At this point in time I simply cannot make firm statement, since we simply don't know what AI will be capable of in the future. I do understand the viewpoint towards AI you have; A viewpoint shared with many other humans on earth. Maybe we figure out at some point in time human awareness and consciousness does not exists as well. Although I primarily believe in big bang or big bang-like theories and evolution / evolution-like theories, I also find theories like Holographic Universe very interesting and maybe to a lesser extend the more popular theories around we living in a computer (although this theory is for me not plausible due to shift of the question who our creators is to another dimension).

That used to be my nickname :)
I need citizenship’s all over the world!!
Anyways I read about Sophia the other day.
Soon we all will have our AI’s doing stuff for us.

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Correct, AI as our friend is around the corner. The great thing that happened is moving AI to a different level of society by giving it citizenship! I'm just amazed this was done by Saudi Arabia, and not by eg Estonia who gives virtual citizenships, or Dubai who want to be the first country in the world to have government / citizen services entirely on blockchain technology.

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We live in unprecedented, amazing times!!!!

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Agree and within 20 to 30 years the world is so different, you would not recognise it anymore if we would do a time jump right now. Not so many people realise that the 4th industrial revolution will result in the most dramatic changes to all other revolutions.

wow .. really very ironic. this amazing robot. fantastic technological developments. I think it's true that people have been thinking about it. robots should not be above humans. i like your post.

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robots should not be above humans

It is a logical way of thinking to protect the human race, but I don't believe we will be able to stop human's in developing AI to such levels it will become much more powerful and intelligent than humans and also become 100% self sufficient. Hence, the question I ask myself is: "how on earth will we prevent AI to wipe out the human race?". Enhancing the human brain with computer power like Neuralink is trying to do, may be the only way for the human race to survive AI.

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I a gree with you.

Consciousness is located inside our microtubules, not in our brain.


and our brain is not a computer
https://aeon.co/essays/your-brain-does-not-process-information-and-it-is-not-a-computer
So, I don't think a robot can develop a consciousness, but I may be wrong, because I am human !!!

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Thank you for the links, I bookmarked it them for later viewing! I think at this stage we don't know how far AI can go, so it would not be wise to assume AI can never become more intelligent than humans. I don't think AI requires consciousness to decide to wipe out the human race, I actually think AI without consciousness is even more dangerous to the existence of the human race, since we will never be able to define the right ruleset for AI to make sure in no circumstance they will harm humans. I'm convinced AI will get much more computing power than our own brains, so that is a given for me :)

i believe we are witnessing an evolutionary step as we migrate our patterns of behavior into a program. but you could say that we are already running in a program that was decided by the cumulative social engineering efforts of our ancestors. like a blockchain through time where the lessons learned by our ancestors are transcribed to us and through us to future generations for the betterment of man kind.

i like where this is going. Thank you for sharing.

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That is an interesting what of articulating the changes we are going to have. Most of the humans today cannot think like that. That in itself worries me a little, since the AI developments will go so quick, it'll be done in a blink of an eye and we face AI being more intelligent then us humans...ok a ling blink of an eye, but human adjustments generally takes decades to longer, and we dont have that time anymore.

Eindelijk komt de droom van Andrew uit...
(Bicentennial Man 1999)

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Ik meen dat ik die film niet gezien heb. Maar dan weer wel Ex Machina, vindt ik een zeer goede film die laat zien wat AI zou kunnen doen. Vorige jaar ook een film gezien met een huis Robot, wellicht heet die gewoon Robot maar kan hem niet snel ff op IMDB vinden. Heel ander verhaal, maar Mr Robot is een zeer goede serie, minder AI, maar wel hackers.

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Ex Machina, moet ik eens opzoeken, nog niet gezien..
Mr Robot is dan weer van een heel ander caliber, wel keigoed.
Wall.E die had ook gevoelens en een beperkte AI, wel grappig

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Wall.E heb ik dan nog niet gezien. Zet ik op mijn lijst. Thanks