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‘Beautiful’ robot to speak English with students in S. Taiwan

AI icon Sophia first robot to be granted legal personhood in 2017

Sophia the robot. Wikipedia photo.

Sophia the robot. Wikipedia photo.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An AI with female features will be holding an educational discussion with students in Kaohsiung on Wednesday (Nov. 6).

Sophia was the world’s first robot to be accorded legal personhood. With an appearance based on the late Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn, she has been described as one of the world’s most beautiful robots.

Sophia has been invited to visit the Kaohsiung Main Public Library by the Kaohsiung City Government’s Education Bureau (KCEB), Future Family, the Future Education Development Association, and other organizations. She will communicate with schoolchildren in English as well as speak with parents and educators.

With much anticipation, participants in the event have begun thinking up questions to ask her. Additionally, KCEB Director Wu Jung-fung (吳榕峯) will give a lecture on experimental education, language, and internationalization at the event.

Designed and developed by the Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics in 2016, Sophia has beautiful ceramic skin, meticulous facial features, and a friendly smile, according to the Liberty Times. Using AI technology, she is capable of simulating "uncanny-valley" human expressions and interacting with people.

As Innovation Champion of the United Nations Development Programme, Sophia is the first non-human to be given any UN title. On Oct. 25, 2017, she was also granted Saudi Arabian citizenship, thus becoming the first robot ever to have a nationality.

However, some netizens have used Sophia's citizenship to criticize Saudi Arabia's human rights record, questioning whether she would have the right to vote. On Dec.15, 2018, China appointed Sophia as a Belt and Road Innovative Technology Ambassador.