Saudi Arabia has declared the world’s first robot citizen

Saudi Arabia's promote themselves as a future tech hub by giving citizenship to a robot for the first time in history.

October 30, 2017

Last week, we reported on Saudi Arabia’s plan to build a $500B, 10,230-mile “megacity” — a part of the country’s wider plan to become a future tech hub built on more progressive values.

Now, in a PR move to promote this vision, they’ve given citizenship to a robot for the first time in history.

Her name’s Sophia

Developed back in 2015 by ex-Disney Imagineer, Dr. David Hanson, Sophia has become somewhat of a media darling “child” over the past few years — mainly for being a real android a-hole.

Like the time she threw shade at Elon Musk. Or when that video went viral of her stating she wanted to “destroy humans.”


Equipped with AI, facial recognition, and a Google voice recognition tech, she’s able to “imitate human gestures” (like smiling, frowning, and bearing her teeth), and sustain long conversations.

Why is she the first robot citizen?

The announcement was made at Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative. It was a clear PR stunt aimed at publicizing SA’s tech efforts, while at the same time a display of inadvertent irony.

Sophia, a female robot designed to look like late actress Audrey Hepburn, appeared without a headdress and was not accompanied by a male guardian — actions that are both illegal for real women under Saudi law.

While championing a bright future for robots and tech, the country reminded the world how far it has to go to live up to the basic tenets of social equality.

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