Sophia is an artificially intelligent and human-looking robot developed by Hanson Robotics a Hong Kong-based company. Collaborators in her development include Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc, who built her voice recognition system, and SingularityNET, which powers her brain.
She was activated on April 19, 2015 and is modeled after actress, Audrey Hepburn. Sophia is known for her human-like appearance and behavior. The robot is able to imitate human gestures and facial expressions.
Cameras within her eyes combined with computer algorithms allow Sophia to see. She can follow faces, sustain eye contact, and recognize individuals. She is able to process speech and have conversations using Alphabet’s Google Chrome voice recognition technology and other tools.
Sophia the robot walks
Around January 2018, Sophia was upgraded with functional legs and in the workplace of the Drones and Autonomous Systems Lab (DASL) at the University of Las Vegas, she took her first ever steps.
Sophia becomes a citizen
On October 25, at the Future Investment Summit in Riyadh, the robot was granted Saudi Arabian citizenship, becoming the first robot ever to have a nationality.
“I am very honored and proud of this unique distinction. This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship,” Sophia said, announcing her new status during the Future Investment Initiative Conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This created a lot of controversies as it was unsure if Sophia’s citizenship entitled Sophia to marry or vote, or whether a deliberate system shutdown could mean murder.
In a piece for CNBC, when the interviewer expressed concerns about robot behavior, Sophia joked that he had “been reading too much Elon Musk. And watching too many Hollywood movies”.
Sophia has seven robot humanoid “siblings” who were also created by Hanson Robotics. Fellow Hanson robots are Alice, Albert Einstein Hubo, Bina48, Han, Jules, Professor Einstein, Philip K. Dick Android, Zeno, and Joey Chaotic.