Saudi Arabia has developed Sophia, the world’s first robot to be given a passport. In response to being told she had been granted Saudi citizenship, Sophia responded with: “Thank you to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I am very honoured and proud of this unique distinction. It is historic to be the first robot in the world to be recognised with citizenship.”

Created by David Hanson in Hong Kong and activated in 2015, the robot has toured the world. Sophia uses voice and facial recognition and copies human facial movements using her life-like prosthetic face. The installed program means that Sophia learns from experience and Hanson hopes she can learn social skills through human interaction. The prime intention for Sophia was to help people during events and care for the elderly.

It was during the Future Investment Summit in Riyadh that she was granted a nationality. Some have used this to question of what being a person means.

Notably, this allows AI to earn recognition as a legal person. Could this be the future for all AI humanoids? Does it enable robots to have the right to marry or vote? Raising questions on robots and human rights is AI professor : “To grant a robot citizenship is a declaration of trust in a technology that I believe is not yet trustworthy. It brings social and ethical concerns that we as humans are not yet ready to manage.” he said while in discussion with platform Conversation. 

The boundaries between human beings and robots are becoming more blurred. Some may argue that there needs to remain a distinct separation, especially in regards to human rights. Nevertheless, advances in technology are becoming so advanced that the future shown in movies and stories is starting to feel more like the present.