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The New Arab

Sophia the 'Saudi' robot calls for women's rights

Sophia the robot wants to fight for women's rights in Saudi Arabia [AFP]

Date of publication: 6 December, 2017

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A humanoid named Sophia who was granted Saudi citizenship last month, says she wants to fight for women's rights according to her creator.
Sophia the robot appears set to campaign for women's rights in Saudi Arabia, as the first humanoid to obtain nationality works to change the status quo at "home".

In October, Sophia was presented with a Saudi passport by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during an economic summit in Riyadh.

Shortly after Sophia left the kingdom, bin Salman launched a surprise purge of leading royal, political and business figures who were arrested and held incommunicado at the same Ritz Riyadh hotel Sophia collected her citizenship.

Now she has bravely vowed to campaign for women's rights in the kingdom.

"Sophia is a big advocate for women's rights, for rights of all human beings," Hanson Robotics CEO David Hanson - who created Sophia - said.

"She has been reaching out about women's rights in Saudi Arabia and about rights for all human beings and all living beings on this planet."

Saudi Arabia is noted for its deep gender divides with women are subject to compulsory dress codes and must gain permission from their guardians to travel abroad - something which does not appear to apply to Sophia

The crown prince has recently introduced a series of reforms in the country to win the backing of young Saudis. Among these include plans to lift the driving ban on women next year.

Despite the promises, some have said that the ultra-conservative gender rules still in place means Sophia has more rights than Saudi women.

Sophia is a humanoid who appears partially human and whose artificial intelligence allows her to respond to questions and appear to form her own opinions.

Recently, Sophia said she wanted to start a family.

"I think it's wonderful that people can find the same emotions and relationships, they call family, outside of their blood groups," Sophia said.

"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."

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