I was surprised to hear that a robot named Sophia was granted citizenship by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The announcement last week followed the Kingdom's commitment of US$500 billion to build a new city powered by robotics and renewables. One of the most honourable concepts for a human being, to be a citizen and all that brings with it, has been given to a machine. As a professor who works daily on making AI and autonomous systems more trustworthy, I don't believe human society is ready yet for citizen robots. To grant a robot citizenship is a declaration of trust in a technology that I believe is not yet trustworthy.
In October last year, Saudi Arabia became the first country in the world to give a robot citizenship. When taking to the stage to announce "her" new status, Sophia said she was "very honored and proud for this unique distinction…It is historic to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with citizenship."