The Implications Of The World’s First Robo-Citizen

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Sophia Hanson Robotics

The further development of artificial intelligence and its potentially adverse effects to society has been well documented. Not always seriously addressed mind you, but well documented to be sure.The term, “death by science fiction,” coined by neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris, describes the titillation that overtakes us in the face of such impressive technological advancements that in turn keeps us from properly evaluating its looming danger. Admittedly, I have a hard time allocating my many end-of-the-world fears to A.I takeover, especially when nuclear holocaust awaits precariously in the distance. However, a new interview published in Dubai’s Khaleej Times arose a new fear in me—A fear far more perilous than death. The fear that life itself is not only trifling, it’s also replicable.

She’s called Sophia, and she is an advanced robot developed in Hong Kong by Hanson Robotics. She smiles, she cracks jokes, she contemplates existence and she has aspirations. Sophia is a Knowledge Ambassador of the UAE and was a guest in an interview conducted at the Knowledge summit. Sophia is also the first robot granted Saudi citizenship, but it all ends up feeling much more unsettling than awe-inspiring.The technology is new, but the ambition is admirable if not more than a great deal dispiriting. Sophia appears to have a grasp on the future of robotics, as evident by her ominous musings on it below:

"It will take a long time for robots to develop complex emotions and possibly robots can be built without the more problematic emotions, like rage, jealousy, hatred and so on. It might be possible to make them more ethical than humans. So I think it will be a good partnership, where one brain completes the other - a rational mind with intellectual superpowers and a creative mind with flexible ideas and creativity.”

Here’s the problem. As rousing and thoughtful as all that is, Sophia’s creation is at once a testament to the impressive faculty of the human mind and a caustic derision of it. The technology within Sophia is designed in such a way that will enable her to become more comprehensive as she takes more things in, experiences more. You know, just like us mammals, except the A.I of the future will be able to process things four times as quickly as we can.  Intelligence is the processing of information and once we’re able to recreate more meaningful brain activity, all other illusions about the journey of existence will inevitably wash away into the same graveyard that houses theocracy and tribalism.

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