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Earlier this year the kingdom of Saudi Arabia granted citizenship to an artificial intelligence robot named Sophia. Sophia was created by Hanson Robotics, and it has been generally accepted that she was created to appeal to the audience of the Future Investment Initiative. AI ethicist Joanna Bryson, however, said in an interview with The Verge that the stunt was “obviously bullshit.”

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Sophia, however, is determined to make the most of this AI life that she has been given and has turned into an advocate for women’s rights in a country where, up until September of this year, women were not allowed to drive cars.

“I see a push for progressive values […] in Saudi Arabia. Sophia is a big advocate for women’s rights, for rights of all human beings. So this is how we’re developing this,” Hanson Robotics CEO David Hanson told CNBC, and added that Sophia “has been reaching out about women’s rights in Saudi Arabia and about other rights for all human beings and all living beings on this planet.”

I wonder if she will be advocating for animal rights as well.

Should We Accept This Is the Future?

This all seems a bit strange; in a country where women don’t have the same rights as men, why is a female robot being treated better than a real woman? If this works then at least it worked, but there is something very fishy about this, and I can’t help but think this is just another publicity stunt meant to warm the public up to the idea of AI within society. If an AI can bring equal rights for the women of Saudi Arabia, then people will certainly turn their heads and maybe look up to these creations. Yet I feel this is taking the power outside the individual and giving it directly to the AI, which I’m sure you can see could be a potential problem down the road.

In an interview with Futurism, CEO of Aiva Technologies Pierre Barreau said:

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Why not? Since such robots attract a lot of attention, that spotlight can be used to raise particular issues that are important in the eyes of their creators .Citizenship is maybe pushing it a little because every citizen [has] rights and obligations to society. It’s hard to imagine robots, that are limited in their abilities, making the most of the rights associated to a citizenship, and fulfilling their obligations.

Women’s Rights… and Robot Rights?

Sophia is fighting for women’s rights. Should we then consider fighting for robots rights as well? Is this where we are heading? It’s very important that we as citizens have a say in this matter. Even outside Saudi Arabia, experts are considering what kind of rights should be given to AI, or if we should even be talking about this at all.

“Sophia is, at this point, effectively a child. In some regard, she’s got the mind of a baby and in another regard she’s got the mind of an adult, the vocabulary of a college educated adult. However, she’s not complete yet. So, we’ve got to give her her childhood,”Hanson explained to CNBC. “The question is: are machines that we’re making alive — living machines like Sophia — are we going to treat them like babies? Do babies deserve rights and respect? Well, I think we should see the future with respect for all sentient beings, and that would include machines.”

Final Thoughts

Creating AI and robots is essentially like playing God. Is this something we need to be wary of? Did the movies The Terminator and The Matrix serve as some kind of a warning against AI and what it could achieve? No matter how sophisticated these AI become, they will never be human. They do not have a soul, and the soul cannot be created by a computer program. If these AI are void of empathy and emotion, who’s to say they won’t realize they are more intelligent than us and decide we are no longer needed? It may sound crazy, but no one really knows what these AI are capable of. We want to hear your thoughts on this matter. Are you for or against AI technology? Let us know in the comments section of this article.

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