Welcoming First ‘Robot Citizen’ Sophia:

Updated: Apr 24, 2020

Before welcoming any new member inside the society, we as the current citizen have the solemn duty and the fundamental right to know about the member that is going to join in. keeping that fact in mind let us introduce you to ‘SOPHIA’- the first robot citizen.

Sophia, a delicate-looking woman with large innocent-looking eyes, glistening eyelashes which can chat, even smile mischievously when given the situation and crack jokes made it to the headlines on October 25, 2017. The impact Sophia created at her introduction to the world was so large that just after one month of her introduction, she was granted the citizenship in Saudi Arabia which in reality made her the first robot to be granted citizenship.

Even though Sophia is a humanoid robot, she still embodies all the womanly characteristics. Sophia is modelled after Audrey Hepburn and embodies her beautiful characteristics such as porcelain skin, a slender nose, high cheekbones, an intriguing smile and a very deeply expressive eyes that seem to change colour when in the presence of light, all these details indeed gives her Hepburn’s classic beauty. Sophia is described to have ‘simple elegance’ which sequentially will create acceptance in the public sphere. Sophia is taken and looked upon as the ‘momentous rise of the era of machines’ that in future promises or threatens to revolutionise man’s relationship with technology.

David Hanson, the creator of Sophia and owner of Hanson Robotics, a Hong Kong-based firm. Before Hanson Robotics, Dr David Hanson used to be a Disney imaginer, a sculptor and even as a filmmaker. The working experience in Disney helped him in thinking robots as 4D interactive sculptures, with artistry being key to the whole design. On his official company website, Dr Hanson quoted “I quest to realize Genius Machines--- machines with greater than human intelligence, creativity, wisdom and are much more compassionate than any other human beings.”

After acquiescence of her citizenship as a full citizen of the country of Saudi Arabia, the humanoid robot, Sophia cited “I’m 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.” This statement was made by Sophia during the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Although most of the world is happy and welcoming Sophia with open and warm hands, there is always a conflicting side to the story as well. There are some who are not happy with the Sophia’s citizenship because Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most restricted states for women and it’s been only a year before the state lifted the ban on female drivers. The contradicting parties have raised the issue asking “does Sophia has more rights than women in Saudi Arabia.

The instalment of Sophia as a citizen itself started bringing change in the ruling system of Saudi Arabia, when the Arabic hashtag #Sophia_calls_for_droping_gaurdianship began trending all over the social media. The Saudi Guardianship system requires every woman must have a male companion with her when in public.

The introduction of this new citizen, Sophia, has brought about many challenging questions with her: What does it mean to a citizen? What rights does Sophia hold? What does the future of robots within ethical and legal framework: as robots come to acquire more qualities of human personhood, should their rights be recognised and protected? Should robots be regarded as natural persons, legal persons, animals or objects or whether a new category should be created? The most important question of them all is the question of the acceptability of people and the legal system of a complex country like India or the US. These questions are not only to be answered by the government of the countries or just the UN but also by the common citizens of the world.


official Writer - Abhishek Jha


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