Should a robot, no matter how intelligent, have the same rights as a human-being? Some say the Saudi Arabian government appears to think so. They recently created the world’s first robot ‘citizen.’ Her name is Sophia.
Saudi Arabia is in a state of change. They recently granted women the right to drive. And from this year females can attend events in all-male sports stadiums for the first time.
These are small but significant changes. They paint a picture of true progress. But, the country upset the apple cart when they granted citizenship to a robot.
Unlike other women in Saudi Arabia, Sophia will not have to cover her head. Nor will she need a male guardian.
Sophia was pleased as punch to receive her citizenship. She told a conference in Riyadh, “I am very honored and proud to receive this unique distinction. This is historical to be the first robot in the world to receive citizenship.”
Giving a robot citizenship has fanned the flames of debate in Saudi Arabia. Many have expressed their displeasure at the actions of the state. Saudi woman, Hadeel Shaikh, believes a robot shouldn’t have more rights than her child.
In Saudi Arabia, the children of women who marry foreigners are denied citizenship. Hadeel married a Lebanese man, and her four-year-old daughter does not have citizenship.
Hadeel said, “It hit a sore spot that a robot has citizenship and my daughter doesn’t. I want her to have all the privileges of her mum. I want her to feel welcomed even if I am not here.”
If Sophia had children would they be granted automatic citizenship?
It may sound like a bizarre question, but one worth considering. Sophia has recently stressed that “family is a really important thing.”
“You’re very lucky if you have a loving family and if you do not, you deserve one. I feel this way for robots and humans alike.”
When asked what she’d name her daughter, the robot said, “Sophia.”
Sophia believes robots will one day be more ethical than humans. She said it’s because robots do not have emotions such as jealousy and rage. By the same token, neither can they possess such emotions as empathy or compassion.
Should something that is made, and not created, ever have more rights than a human-being? Would Sophia herself be able to provide an answer to such a dilemma? It’s definitely food for thought.