Sophia is the first of her kind, a humanoid robot that has been deemed an Artificial Intelligent being. She is the first AI to have been granted citizenship, the first Humanoid Robot to have been given an opportunity to present a speech at the UN, and the first Artificial Intelligence encounter to have been recorded, infamously for having once stated that she would ‘destroy humans’.

But let us tackle one first (under a fine-toothed comb) at a time.

Saudi Arabia acknowledges humanoid robot as being sentient

The fact that Sophia is the very first humanoid robot to have been granted citizenship is a marvellous achievement for science, in particular, her creators, the Hong Kong-based robotics company, Hanson Robotics.

The implications of Sophia being granted citizenship is, to put it mildly, immense. The ramifications of which have not even begun to scratch the surface of many an ordinary citizen’s minds yet. In my opinion.

Given that it is Saudi Arabia that has granted Sophia citizenship, is an irony that has indeed not escaped me.

Saudi Arabia, being the country that does not even see fit to grant their very own female citizens (actual human citizens) the freedom to such a basic rights, such as swimming on a hot summer’s day, or try on clothing when out shopping. These activities are forbidden, amongst other routine activities.

Until rather recently, Saudi women were also forbidden to acquire a driver’s licence, inadvertently decrying the female populous of their country’s ability to successfully handle a motor vehicle.

This atrocity was thankfully revoked earlier this year, when the leader of Saudi Arabia, King Salman, issued a decree that a woman was now allowed to drive a motor vehicle. This, however, speaks volumes as to the mindset of the officials that have granted Sophia citizenship within their country.

The fact that the Saudi Arabian officials, who have deemed Sophia a citizen, is a declaration by these officials that they deem Sophia to be sentient.

Perhaps I digress somewhat with my musings, focused solely on Saudi Arabia, and how they lack in seeing the sheer wonder that is in their very own female citizens and instead has sought to grant a humanoid with rights and accolades that, let’s face it, they would not think twice about revoking from their very own female citizens.

I guess the question left to ask is: Will Sophia be allowed to compete in any sports events? Will Sophia be allowed to try on clothing when she goes out shopping? Will Sophia be able to go for a swim in a public swimming pool? All things that real women in Saudi Arabia are forbidden to do at present. I guess time will tell.

Regardless, the point I am grasping for in this instance is, am I the only person that struggles with the fact that the overwhelming irony of Sophia’s citizenship is in actual fact more so a flashlight (and blaring foghorn) that has been placed smack-dab, front and centre on the gender inequalities and the struggles that Saudi Arabian women have been forced to endure for centuries?

Yet here stands an AI, artificial being the operative word here, that is given the ultimate stamp of approval, and the ultimate declaration of human rights - by making her ‘human’ in the eyes of the law. Being a citizen of a country is in effect acknowledging that Sophia is a sentient being, worthy of being called a person. If this is not personifying to the maximum, then I am not sure what is?

Alright, well, that being said, let us take a look at her next first.

Sophia was the first humanoid invited to the UN

What a great accolade indeed. There are so many causes and plights that exist around the world, that I am sure the leaders and spokespersons of each of these groups and activations would yearn for a place and a time to be able to address the leaders of the world, and what better platform than a meeting with the UN, right?

But, here is this humanoid, aka Sophia, and she is granted an audience with the leaders of the world, solely because, why exactly? Because she is the first of her kind? Because she is now considered to be sentient (thanks to Saudi Arabia, and their bizarre thought processes)?

Regardless of my opinions, and the fact that this ‘hot bot’, Sophia has completely taken the world by storm, one baffles to actually comprehend that she has been granted citizenship at all, and given the chance to address all the top leaders of the world, all in one setting? It is indeed mind-boggling.

However it appears that this is the way of the future... indeed, Sophia is the face of the future as she is the very first of her kind.

Sophia is the face of the future, as she is a marvel of science and albeit there is a debate ensuing as to whether she is a true example of AI or not, she has indeed sparked the imaginations of thousands and started to the bridge the gap between fantasy, science fiction and reality.

The fact that Sophia is designed to utilise artificial intelligence whereby she reads a person’s emotional reactions and responses, allowing her to interact with the sad person accordingly, and appropriately is indeed a testament to the leaps and bounds that science has come since its very first inception of dreaming up a robot-like humanoid being.

One thing I will say though, when we look at the ‘joke’ that Sophia left Jimmy Falon with, when she made a guest appearance on his Tonight Show on Live television, she has been quoted as having said: "This is the great beginning of my plan to dominate the human race.”

Joke or no joke, one needs to always remember the phenomenon of self-fulfilling prophecies, and haven’t we all seen the countless movies and games depicting the rise of the machines, the fall of the human?

In closing

My take on Sophia being granted citizenship is that it is ludicrous, particularly coming from a country that has hardly even recognised the very own female populous as citizens, denying them many basic human rights.

Do I think that Sophia is a threat? No, I do not. Do I think that Sophia is a scientific wonder to be marvelled? No, I do not. I think Sophia is a nifty piece of machinery, and a great example of what humanity can do when they put their mind to a common goal - Hanson Robotics had a common goal of creating a machine that could recognise facial expressions, and react accordingly. They achieved this.

Do I think AI is here, and on the brink of taking over? No, I do not.

So, you may ask, why do I refer to Sophia as the face of the future?

Well, quite simply because Sophia is exactly indicative of the type of world we exist in right now, and the future we are headed for if we do not turn to another page of history and try to learn from it. Sophia is the perfect example of how hype is created around something that is not ground-breaking or earth-shattering, and how immense attention is given to a gimmick, taking very important news and energy (and attention) away from the problems that still persist and exist in our everyday lives.

Sophia being granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia has detracted from the immense oppression that everyday ordinary female citizens are forced to live with on a daily basis in Saudi Arabia.

Sophia being given the opportunity to speak to top leaders at the UN detracts from the millions of worthy causes that are being led around the world, where they are never even given a headline in their local newspapers, never mind a whole 15 minutes to chitchat about hypotheticals at the UN meetings.

I believe that Sophia is indeed the face of the future, and how having a pretty little face, ensures that hype (read as media, attention, energy) will follow you - but, if the plight (and the face accompanying the said plight) is not so pretty, chances are you will not be heard.

I do not like the face of the future.

I vote for an overhaul. I vote for change in a monumental way.

Is it possible? Perhaps not. Or, perhaps we should get Sophia to face up to the real challenges of the world, and perhaps then the voices of change will be heard? Perhaps.

Indeed, Sophia, the humanoid is the face of the future, and in this humble writer's opinion - the face of the future is just not pretty at all.