Sophia: the first robot to gain citizenship

Robotics aren’t new to us, but there’s a deep rooted fear that robots will somehow take over the Earth and destroy all humans, which is perpetuated through many different forms of media. For example, books like I Robot, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and movies such as Terminator.

Perhaps that’s mostly because of Western culture. Japan uses robots all the time for a myriad of reasons. There’s a hotel in Japan called Henna that’s run almost completely by robots and not humans. They use robots in hospitals to help tend to patients, especially elderly or disabled individuals. Robots work in factories assembling cars, just like they do here. Japan is said to be starting something called a Robot Revolution Initiative which is going to be put in place to battle their declining population growth. Their goal here seems to be to make robots more human, more capable of communicating just as we do, and either nobody knows any of this information despite it not really being a secret, or nobody really cares unless something like this touches the West.

Which brings us to Sophia.

Sophia was “born” on April 19th, 2015, and was constructed by Hanson Robotics. She’s modeled after Audrey Hepburn, and she’s known for her colourful range of facial expressions. And, of course, her confession that she would “kill all humans”.  Originally, Hanson designed Sophia to be a companion for the elderly at nursing homes, and to help crowds at large events or parks.

She can carry on full conversations and understands humor pretty well. She even makes her own jokes sometimes. Sophia has been shown off all over the world and has attended endless interviews where she gives her own speeches. Sophia isn’t the only android out there that looks and sounds extremely lifelike, but she’s certainly caught the most attention, and for good reason. This year, Sophia was granted actual citizenship in Saudi Arabia.

This video shows off just how much she’s capable of:

Perhaps we should be a little wary of the future of robots if we can get this close to human accuracy. Though, in my opinion, it’s too cool not to love.


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