Sophia the robot made a huge buzz on the internet when received a full citizenship in Saudi Arabia. Many people find this quite exciting as the robot will be able to advocate women’s rights in that country. Others find it ridiculous and insulting to all women in Saudi Arabia whose rights are violated every day.
We live in a new era where computer-programmed machines are produced globally everyday.
Whether you want it or not, you have to deal with them on daily basis. Let’s take, for example, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, juicers, television sets and many more. They are certainly beneficial for our everyday tasks. What if they eventually plan on dominating us?
There are also human-like robots who initially aim to facilitate our lives and help us carry out tasks. Sometimes designers try real hard to resemble real human beings that you feel scared while looking at those robots. Frankly speaking, those machines sometimes even seem a little bit creepy, don’ t they?
One of the robots that I would like to put stress on is Sophia. Sophia the robot is a social humanoid robot designed by Honk-Kong based company, Hanson Robotics, in collaboration with AI designers, including Google parent company, Alphabet INC., who built her voice recognition system and SinguliarityNET which powers her brain.
Let’s see why she stands out and grabs the most attention from others in the recent years.
What Are Sophia the Robot and Other Life-like Robots Designed For?
We have GermanoidDK, Junko Chihiro, Bina48, Nadine, Sophia which are human-like and life-like robots with the only difference being the technology installed inside them. They do not possess empathy, sympathy, a vast variety of feelings and emotions that make us human-beings and living creatures on the Earth.
Robots do whatever they are literally told to, nothing more. However, they are valued more than human abilities and capabilities. Of course, it’s fantastic to have a humanoid robot beside you who will not complain about helping you, easing the burden on your shoulders.
There will be someone to count on when you have more important work to do than your current one. You will just have to assign the device the right task, it will figure the rest out.
But when these robots take over real human beings, it becomes something dangerous. When people get subordinated and robots get ranked higher, it gets a little bit scary.
Anyway, we, PEOPLE, are their creators, it is us whom they should obey. We should have control over them.
History of Sophia the Robot
Sophia, the robot was activated on 19 April. She is modeled after a famous American actress, Audrey Hepburn. She is known for her life-like behavior compared to her other peer robots.
According to the designer, David Hanson, a former Disney ‘imaginer’, Sophia uses artificial intelligence, visual data processing, and facial recognition.
Sophia also imitates certain human gestures and facial expressions. She is able to answer a certain amount of questions and makes a simple conversation on a predefined topic. For example, on the weather.
Hanson designed Sophia to be a good fit for the elderly people at nursing houses or to help people at big events or parks. She is intended to get social skills while interacting with humans. David Hanson also added that she will be pretty helpful in customer service, healthcare, therapy, and education.
Sophia runs on artificially trained software which enables her to speak faster, make more complicated conversations. Her expressions are likely to get faster, have fewer errors and compose more questions with more accuracy.
Cameras within her eyes combined with computer algorithms allow Sophia to see, sustain eye contact and recognize individuals. She is able to process conversation using Alphabet’s Google Chrome voice recognition technology and other tools. Around 2018, she was upgraded with functional legs, so Sophia is also able to walk on her own.
On November 21, 2017, Sophia was named at the United Nations Developments Programme’s champion for Asia and Pacific. She helps to achieve and promote sustainable development and safeguard humans equality.
Sophia was a sought-after speaker in business, even politics. She participated in many high-level conferences with key decision makers to talk about artificial intelligence and how it will further support humans to solve sophisticated problems.
She is an evolving public figure who, as she said about herself, is destined to help people and make a family.
Sophia the Robot a Citizen of Saudi Arabia? How Does that Make Sense?
One of the highlighting moments that has also grabbed our attention is that in October 2017, Saudi Arabia gave Sophia, the robot a full citizenship. Thus, Sophia became the first robot ever to receive a nationality of any country.
This ultimately attracts controversy as many social commentators criticize whether granting Sophia a citizenship in Saudi Arabia means that she can freely marry or vote. This act itself is against Saudi Arabia’s citizenship record.
Critics say the following.
Women in Saudi Arabia often commit suicide because they cannot leave the house without a male guardian. Saudi law doesn’t allow non-Muslims to get citizenship. Did Sophia convert to Islam? Of course not, what is then her religion and why she is not wearing hijab like all other women and girls in Saudi Arabia? If any woman today apply for a citizenship there, she will categorically get rejected because she is just a woman.
Sophia’s creator David Hanson says she will use her citizenship to advocate for women’ rights and equality. But what Hanson means by saying that still remains somewhat unclear.
She is yet to hold a lengthy conversation on such topics as women rights or equality on her own unless someone upgrades her system.
If the creator upgrades Sophia, he will be programming her the way he wants. Whatever the designer himself would say, the same words and expressions will be placed in the system and Sophia will only be repeating the ideas. She won’t have her personal opinion on these issues, which is crucial in this case.
It is ridiculous to even think that a robot will be present at a high-profile conference hall and speak for women – a robot will speak for HOMO SAPIENS, meanwhile, women are not allowed to express themselves.
It is like they are not able to utter any word but a robot can merely because of the fact that we are driving towards a new technological era where devices and machines dominate.
Can Sophia the Robot Advocate Women’s Rights or Will It Be the Total Opposite?
Why should Sophia feel free to walk in the streets with bare feet and an unveiled head, while Saudi Arabian women cover every inch of their bodies because it’s shameful to show their skin?
But in the meantime, Saudi Arabian women try their hardest to cover every inch of their bodies in black because it is shame to show the world what they are made of?
Why Sophia, the robot can express her ideas, opinions globally but Saudi women cannot even say a word in their families?
Don’t you think that a country like a Saudi Arabia, that has constantly violated women’s rights, should not have taken that step? In that case, the country goes against its iron-casted laws.
Where are those equality seekers who we see on TV and the internet propagandizing freedom, equal rights for women?
They do not seem to speak out and stand up against robot moguls who try to replace human beings with artificial intelligence.
And by the way, this topic not only refers to women’s but also humanity’s issues. Sophia also has older siblings who have been activated long before and are controlling humankind.
This doesn’t mean that people should stop advancing science or creating robots. Robots are great, they are here to help and serve people instead of taking over humanity. They shouldn’t be given more rights and freedom than humans.
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