In a three-day event that has already seen the country announce its intent to build an entirely new city - called Neom - from scratch, the announcement that a robot named Sophia has been granted Saudi citizenship stands apart. The response to Sophia's jokes and comments at the Tonight Show was similar to the response at the Future Investment Initiative conference, held at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh. Sophia reacted to the announcement in real time, telling a stage of investors that "I am very honored and proud for this unique distinction". It's the first country in the world to give a bot the same status reserved for humans.
During the course of her interview, she took a dig at Elon Musk and Hollywood movies for portraying artificial intelligence in a questionable light.
While Sophia has some impressive capabilities, she does not yet have consciousness, but Hanson said he expected that fully sentient machines could emerge within a few years.
Sophia (robot): Oh, good afternoon.
Sophia, created by founder of Hanson Robotics Dr. David Hanson, spoke with Sorkin about the future of artificial intelligence.
Saudi experts pointed out that the robot has more privileges than actual living Saudi women. "If you be nice to me, then I'll be nice to you". "Treat me as a smart input output system".
Although it is perhaps generating the most attention, the Future Investment Initiative wasn't Sophia's first public appearance.
When asked if robots are or should be as self-aware and conscious as humans, Sophia said, "Why is that a bad thing? Please say no", the robot replied, "OK, I will destroy humans".
"Don't worry, if you're nice to me, I'll be nice to you", Sophia added, to reassure Sorkin and her audience.
"Sophia has no guardian, doesn't wear an abaya or cover up - how come?" "I have exposure to the most cutting edge AI and I think people should be really concerned about it", Musk once said.