Citizenship for robots; the end of the nation state? | Hudson McKenzie

Citizenship for robots; the end of the nation state?

October 30, 2017 | Latest Thinking

Saudi Arabia recently granted a robot named Sophia citizenship for the first time, raising several ethical questions surrounding the value of human existence and the future of the nation state.

Initially, questions were raised as to how a state that does not provide equal rights to its own female citizens, can then proceed with giving citizenship to a female robot. This is also followed by concerns regarding the implication that by granting Sophia the Robot citizenship, those who are denied citizenship are of less value than an artificially created machine, creating vast ethical concerns surrounding Human Rights.

By granting citizenship to a robot for the first time, Saudi Arabia aims to become a leader in artificial technology. However, it could be alternatively argued that by granting citizenship to a robot, this not only depreciates the value of human existence but also simultaneously depreciates the value of belonging to a nation state, in which the citizen of the state is equivalent to the value of a lifeless robot.

Therefore, will the status of national citizenship rapidly decline, bringing down the boundaries that define each individual nation state with it, as the boundaries between robot and human merge?

Furthermore, following from this; will the world eventually become one globalized state, with citizenship granted for all – humans and robots combined?

With such possibilities at hand, Human Rights law is more important now than ever. With the dangerously rapid rise of artificial intelligence, Human Rights law as global protocol plays an important role in maintaining global order for all humans, regardless of their citizenship to each nation state.

Thus, if the value of the nation state were to decrease, given the rise of robots with granted citizenship, Human Rights law will be a necessary tool to maintain the value of human existence for all those citizens who cannot be turned on and off at will, unlike the evolutionary citizen; Sophia the Robot.

If you would like to discuss your human or citizenship rights further, contact one of our solicitors today on (020) 3318 5799 or email on

Author: Portia Vincent-Kirby