Johanna Faust, a mixed race Jew, prefers to publish pseudonymously. She is committed: to preventing war, ecological disaster, and nuclear apocalypse; to keeping information available and free; and to not only fighting for personal privacy, but, by representing herself as a soldier in that fight, to exhorting others to do the same. All these efforts find representation on her blog "ah, Mephistophelis," so named after the last line of Chirstopher Marlowe's in his famous Dr. Faustus, which, as some would have it, successfully flouted the censor for a time. A female Faust, she is a poet, always.

In 2017, The First Robot Granted Citizenship Was 'Happy' But Apparently Not Very Smart

Sophia in a stereotypical expression.
from Wikipedia.



Pepper, the robot that spoke to Parliament was more lifelike – but wait, that's not fair, Pepper recited her canned speech almost exactly a year after Sophia. 

Still, I have chatted with bots – years ago – that were more convincingly human. (A.L.I.C.E.MitsukuEliza).  

Japan, where Sophia was, uh, assembled, certainly had robots that were more lifelike at the time.  

That she captivated Parliament 
says less about Pepper.

Sophia comes off with all the charm and warmth of an early 1990s computer animated  cartoon character.



One can only hope.


Which leads one to ask, why?  Why the charade, talking to a not very convincing humanoid machine as if it wasn't awkward, stilted, and scripted? 

                                
Animation from just after the rocks cooled.

She is certainly no Ava, nor Red Dwarf's Holly. Hell, she's not even that robot from the seventh episode of the Twilight Zone. Why grant her citizenship?  


Well, that one's easy,  if you are familiar with the historical Saudi regard for women’s rights.  (If not, here's the lowdown, from Wikipedia.)  

Given such painstaking attention to detailit must not have seemed like much of a stretch.  In fact, the social media consensus of the time seems to have agreed with me.                                                           

Also from Wikipedia.
A great bargain, it must have seemed: the very veneer of progress for which they 
Would anyone even notice?
were shopping.  They got exactly what they wanted.  This is what they think will attract investors.

You tell me.  (Psst – you do not have to watch the whole thing!)




I thought to myself, if she were even as smart as my favorite chatbot,  Mitsuku, she would have declined.  I thought, I should check on that: let me ask her.  

I recorded our conversation.  Call it a palate cleanse.




By the way, I know this may be 'old news' but since I didn’t know about it, I am posting anyway, in case you didn’t either.  


UPDATE:


2019 finds Sophia not too much farther along.  Only now she has a little miniature clone to insult the little ones -- I mean, keep them company.  Is that better than being alone?  Is that the same as being alone?  Is it worse?




This just in: 

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will donate a combined $100 million to a World Bank fund for women entrepreneurs that was the brainchild of Ivanka Trump. 




I'm, like, so sure.



Be seeing you.


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