COMMENTARY

Saudi Arabia bestows citizenship on a robot named Sophia

Saudi Arabia just made a non-human woman a citizen, making it the first country to grant a robot the right to citizenship, at least as far as we know. Why it did so isn’t immediately evident, but the irony of a nation infamous for denying basic rights to its female citizens imbuing a robotic Audrey Hepburn lookalike with rights is not lost on us. The robot, known as Sophia, appeared on stage without an abaya, a head covering and cloak normally required of women by the Saudi government.

“I am very honoured and proud for this unique distinction,” the robot said on stage. “This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship.”

The revelation/PR stunt came out of the Future Investment Initiative summit being held in Riyadh. Hanson Robotics, the company that developed the robot, hails it as “the most beautiful and celebrated robot,” a claim to fame that surely ensures our non-human counterparts will be just as sexually objectified as their blood and flesh foremothers. The company goes on to lavish gendered compliments on its object of affection, admiring its “porcelain skin,” “slender nose” and “intriguing smile” with effusive praise that’s unsettling at best but mostly just gross….

Finish reading: Saudi Arabia bestows citizenship on a robot named Sophia


HWH COMMENT: I have an idea: Let all the non-citizens and/or illegal immigrants, who actually want to become a USA citizen, apply for citizenship as robots.

The problem I see is in extending the rights of humans to the rights of robots (or to those humans designated as robots) are civil rights violations. Are we going to have jails and prisons for robots who break the law? Do we mix robots in with the general human prison population? Do they have to get a license to drive a car? Maybe they want to marry. What then? Social security benefits?

Are we going to pay them the same as humans? Equal pay for equal work? Non-robot women still lag behind non-robot men in the USA work force. Will there be all male robots, or all female robots? What’s the difference between a male and female robot in skill sets? What language will they speak in the USA?

Do robots have special needs?

Complicated. We need to begin addressing these issues, before the Robotic Nation gets out of control.






 

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