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Meet robot Sophia, the AI-citizen championing women’s rights in Saudi Arabia

In case you have been following developments in the tech world keenly, you must have met robot Sophia. If not, meet Sophia, the humanoid robot who has impressed many with her sophistication especially in her interactions with human beings. Since making a debut last year, the robot has evolved considerably and continues to gain popularity as well as elicit reactions from people all over the world.

Sophia made headlines after becoming the first robot to receive citizenship of any country but it seems that her mission goes beyond that. Saudi Arabia granted Sophia a citizenship but this attracted criticism especially since the rights of actual women in Saudi Arabia are still restricted. This is a country where women were granted the rights to drive cars only three months ago.

It turns out that robot Sophia is now a women’s rights advocate and is championing the rights of women in Saudi Arabia. This comes as a surprise to many who have been keenly following developments about this humanoid robot since it once stated that it wanted to destroy humans.

Robot Sophia as a great rights advocate? Some don’t think so.

Hanson Robotics, the company that created Sophia, described their creation as a big “advocate for women’s rights”. The company’s CEO said that he foresees a situation where Sophia will be a game changer such that she will push for progressive values in Saudi Arabia. Hanson added that since Sophia has received citizenship, the next step would be to grant rights to machines.

All these developments seem mind-blowing especially given that the company states that the humanoid robot is still in its early development stage. While people are divided on various issues regarding Sophia, many agree that this is a unique development. However, some people feel that Sophia is overrated and that it does not make sense to perceive the robot as having human-equivalent intelligence.

Some people feel that robots do not have rights, even though Sophia was granted a citizenship, and thus, they cannot advocate for major values such as women’s rights. To others, the humanoid robot has attracted a lot of attention; hence, this is an opportune time to raise certain important issues.

Another group feels that the whole ‘women’s rights advocacy’ campaign is laughable since robots are limited in their abilities. In the case of Sophia, some argue that it does not even know what women or rights are. This group perceives robots as a mouthpiece of their creators since most of Sophia’s statements are believed to be scripted. In addition, they argue that robots like Sophia cannot have an opinion on grand issues and that they have nothing to offer in decision making.

Other skeptics feel that giving machines certain rights is like comparing them with humans. The human is able to express themselves while the AI system in a robot is designed by a programmer and given instructions. The level of sophistication lies with the human designer and not with the robot. This means that machines do not have a will of their own.

Regardless of your side of the argument, robot Sophia, or should we say Hansen Robotics, has initiated a worthy course. Waiting to see how this will unfold and other surprises from this robot.

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