A humanoid robot named Sophia has become the first robot to be granted citizenship in the world. Saudi Arabia announced Sophia’s status at the Future Investment Initiative held in Riyadh on October 25. The robot was developed by Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics and its creators hailed her “the most beautiful and celebrated robot.” During the display, the robot said: “I am very honoured and proud of this unique distinction. This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship.” However, many people were quick to point out that it appears that Sophia has more rights than women in the country.
Saudi Arabia has a male guardianship system which means that every woman must have a male guardian, husband or relative that makes critical decisions on her behalf. Saudi women are not allowed to get married, apply for a passport or even travel without guardian approval. Sophia was able to appear on stage by herself without the permission of male guardian and without a hijab.
According to Bloomberg, Saudi Arabia doesn’t grant citizenship to foreign workers who make up a third of its population nor families that have been in the country for generations. Furthermore, children of Saudi women who are married to foreign men cannot receive citizenship.
“Women [in Saudi Arabia] have since committed suicide because they couldn’t leave the house, and Sophia is running around,” Ali al-Ahmed, director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, told Newsweek. “Saudi law doesn’t allow non-Muslims to get citizenship. Did Sophia convert to Islam? What is the religion of this Sophia and why isn’t she wearing hijab? If she applied for citizenship as a human, she wouldn’t get it.”
Some people took to twitter to express their dismay at the Saudi government decision:
Sophia, the first robot to be granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia, has more rights than the human women there. Strike anyone else as odd? ?— Emily Applegate (@EApples7) 26 October 2017
I’m wondering if robot Sophia can leave Saudi Arabia without her guardian consent ! Since she’s officially Saudi
— Moudi Aljohani (@Moudhi90) 26 October 2017
There are many social controversies surrounding Sophia’s new status. It is unclear what the robot’s unique citizenship will mean in practical terms, and whether it is now illegal to turn her off or dismantle her.
I am Luke Miller, content manager at Truth Theory and creator of Potential For Change. I like to blend psychology and spirituality to help you create more happiness in your life.Grab a copy of my free 33 Page Illustrated eBook- Psychology Meets Spirituality- Secrets To A Supercharged Life You Control Here