Disturbing AI Human Like Robot 'Sophia' Is Granted First Ever Robot Visa

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The AI humanoid Sophia has been granted the world's first robot visa as she embarks on a world tour on behalf of her Hong Kongese creators.

She was issued the electronic visa upon her arrival at Azerbaijan's Baku International Airport shortly before meeting the Caucasus nation's president, Ilham Aliyev.

The AI celebrity is in Azerbaijan for a tech conference, where she is a keynote speaker.

Sophia first emerged two years ago as a super-intelligent human-like head with a realistic face that was able to blink, look from side to side and talk.

But the robot's eloquent use of language and intricate facial expressions have stirred suspicion among AI experts, who say Sophia is merely a 'sophisticated puppet'.

'Mr. President, I am pleased to meet with you. Azerbaijan has amazed me,' Sophia said as she met with Aliyev in the southern Azerbaijani city of Imishli last week.

'I have seen Baku's unique architectural style, modern buildings and other technological achievements.'

Both were attending the opening ceremony of a new service centre built by the Azerbaijan Service and Assessment Network (Asan), the country's e-government platform.

Having just taken over all of Azerbaijan's e-government services, Asan issued the robot with an electronic Visa upon her arrival in Baku.

'Despite your busy schedule you have visited Azerbaijan and it pleases us very much,' Aliyev said.

'We are opening together with you a new Asan center. It is also innovation and it reflects our capacity and intention to build up our modern country.

Sophia met Azerbaijan's president Ilham Aliyev during her visit to the Caucasus nation. She was in Azerbaijan for a tech conference, where she was a keynote speaker.

Although it garnered international publicity from issuing a visa to a humanoid, ASAN decided to go a step further and asked Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, to have a brief chat with Sophia when he presided over the opening of a new ASAN complex.

Sophia shared several messages with the president and responded to what he was saying. Sophia’s structural framework includes a camera that looks for visual cues such as facial expressions when deciding when to keep a conversation moving. The humanoid, whom Hanson Robotics gave an Audrey Hepburn look for this leg of the trip, started the conversation by telling Aliyev how she had obtained an ASAN visa at Baku airport and described Baku’s architecture.

Sophia praised Aliyev for championing the ASAN initiative; “Your visit here [at the ASAN complex dedication] underscores the special attention you are giving to e-governance and the innovation ecosystem.”

Sophia is modelled after Audrey Hepburn, and was designed by Hong Kong firm Hanson Robotics.

She controversially became the world's first robot to be granted legal rights at an event in Saudi Arabia last year.

While Sophia has some impressive capabilities, she does not yet have consciousness, and it is unclear how much her AI drives her movement and speech.


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