However, Hanson Robotics CEO David Hanson is turning Sophia’s headline-making citizenship into something a bit bigger. Sophia is now a women’s rights advocate
“Sophia is a big advocate for women’s rights, for rights of all human beings,” Hanson Robotics CEO David Hanson said. “She has been reaching out about women’s rights in Saudi Arabia and about rights for all human beings and all living beings on this planet.”
When Sophia was initially granted her citizenship, women around the world immediately pointed out the disparity. Sophia, a robot, was granted citizenship in a country that, until September, banned women from driving a car.
“I see a push for progressive values […] in Saudi Arabia. Sophia is a big advocate for women’s rights, for rights of all human beings. So this is how we’re developing this,” Hanson told CNBC.
Hanson took the opportunity to clear the air around the move to accept citizenship, one many called a pure publicity stunt.
Others have pointed out the irony of an AI system championing for grand human values when they don’t have access to these freedoms themselves. However, many researchers think that Sophia and similar robots draw attention to significant issues and disparities.
Pierre Barreau, CEO of Aviva Technologies, explained why he thought Sophia had potential in an interview with Futurism.
“Why not? Since such robots attract a lot of attention, that spotlight can be used to raise particular issues that are important in the eyes of their creators,” Barreau said.
“Citizenship is maybe pushing it a little, because every citizen [has] rights and obligations to society. It’s hard to imagine robots, that are limited in their abilities, making the most of the rights associated with citizenship, and fulfilling their obligations.”
Sophia has evolved considerably from her debut last year to accidentally saying that she’d kill humans just a few months ago to now championing for women’s rights and even wanting to start her own family.
However, Hanson pointed out that the company is far from finished with Sophia’s development.
“Sophia is, at this point, effectively a child. In some regard, she’s got the mind of a baby and in another regard, she’s got the mind of an adult, the vocabulary of a college-educated adult. However, she’s not complete yet. So, we’ve got to give her her childhood,” Hanson said in the interview with CNBC. “The question is: regarding machines that we are making – like Sophia – are we going to treat them like babies? Do babies deserve rights and respect? Well, I think we should see the future with respect for all sentient beings, and that would include machines.”
These questions and ethical debates led to the IEEE [ Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers ] recently crafting a guide for an ethical development of AI. Ultimately, who takes responsibility for the decisions and beliefs promoted by the AI?