Wootson: Saudi Arabia has just granted a robot more rights than it accords women

Opinion

Until recently, the most famous thing that Sophia the robot had ever done was beat Jimmy Fallon a little too easily in a nationally televised game of rock-paper-scissors.

But now, the advanced artificial intelligence robot — which looks like Audrey Hepburn, mimics human expressions and may be the grandmother of robots that solve the world’s most complex problems — has a new feather in her cap:

Citizenship.

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia officially granted citizenship to the humanoid robot last week during a program at the Future Investment Initiative, a summit that links deep-pocketed Saudis with inventors hoping to shape the future.

Sophia’s recognition made international headlines — and sparked an outcry against a country with a shoddy human rights record that has been accused of making women second-class citizens.

“Thank you to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the country’s newest citizen said. “It is historic to be the first robot in the world granted citizenship.”

In her comments, Sophia shied away from controversy. But many people recognized the irony of Sophia’s new recognition: A robot simulation of a woman enjoys freedoms that flesh-and-blood women in Saudi Arabia do not.

This article continues at [Washington Post] Saudi Arabia, which denies women equal rights, makes a robot a citizen

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