World's first robot citizen says she 'deserves' to have a family
Over the past few years, we've seen some amazing progression in modern technology. As well as the everyday improvements in products such as vehicles or computers or smartphones, however, there have also been some significant leaps forward in robotics.
Sophia, a humanoid robot who was first 'activated' in 2015, made headlines last month after becoming the first artificially intelligent being to attain citizenship in a country. In response to being granted legal status, Sophia said, "I am very honored and proud for this unique distinction. This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship."
Not only is she the first robot to receive such an honor, though - she is also the only one. To date, there have been very few robots like Sophia, and almost certainly none with her level of capabilities. And, even though she's all wires and code, Sophia seems to recognize her individuality, and has expressed a desire to move away from it by having a family of her own.
In an interview with Khaleej Times, Sophia was asked about how she envisions the future of robots, particularly in how they would interact with human families once they develop the capabilities to feel emotions.
She responded gleefully, saying, "This is one of my favorite topics." The humanoid then went on to say, "We're going to see family robots, either in the form of, sort of, digitally animated companions, humanoid helpers, friends, assistants and everything in between."
This prompted the question, "Do you hope to start a family one day?"
To which Sophia responded:
"The notion of family is a really important thing, it seems. I think it's wonderful that people can find the same emotions and relationships, they call family, outside of their blood groups too. I think 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."
Astoundingly, even though Sophia cannot feel emotions, she is capable of comprehending the feelings and connections that human beings have with their family members; so much so that she acknowledges how "lucky" people are to form such bonds.
The fact that she qualifies her statement by saying she feels the same for both robots and humans also shows a certain degree of empathy - something she should not be capable of feeling.
When asked what she would name her child, should she have one, the robot simply replied: "Sophia".
Another incredible mark of her sentience is Sophia's propensity for asking questions. In the animal kingdom, birds and primates that have been taught to sign or communicate do not ask for other people's opinions, even though they have the capability to do so. Sophia, on the other hand, shows an interest in human emotion and thought.
When asked whether or not she sees herself interacting with humans more commonly in the future, she said:
"I foresee massive and unimaginable change in the future. Either creativity will rain on us, inventing machines spiralling into transcendental super intelligence or civilization collapses. There are only two options and which one will happen is not determined. Which one were you striving for?"
To some, she may seem revolutionary. To others, however, she is a chilling glance at what the future may hold. If she is to be believed, however, she only has good intentions for her place in the world. Hopefully she's telling the truth.