What could we cancel Sophia the robot for? Oh, where to begin ...

Harron Walker
·3 min read
<span>Photograph: Vincent Yu/AP</span>
Photograph: Vincent Yu/AP

Watch out, Kylie Minogue in her Fever tour’s opening number and also that fake horse Lagy Gaga used to ride around on – there’s a new robotic pop girl in town.

Related: Can anyone become an NFT collector? I tried it to find out

Sophia the robot apparently has pop star ambitions. The brainchild of Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics, Sophia – who can mimic facial expressions and have conversations like a normal, blood-filled woman – is working on what sounds like a pop album, the Associated Press reports. Not much is known about the musical project, except that it will involve collaborations with human musicians.

While I am sure that some may take issue with the idea of robotic pop stars swooping in to replace our flesh-and-blood divas, I think such concerns are overblown. I mean, did Lil Miquela and her digital influencer ilk replace their non-digital, #spon-friendly counterparts? Did 2001’s Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within – a box-office bomb that only I and 37 other people actually saw in theaters – spell the end of live-action actors, as some feared? Absolutely not on both counts. If history has taught us anything, it’s that cyborgian stunts like this will never upset everything as we know it.

&#x002018;While I am sure that some may take issue with the idea of robotic pop stars swooping in to replace our flesh-and-blood divas, I think such concerns are overblown.&#x002019;
‘While I am sure that some may take issue with the idea of robotic pop stars swooping in to replace our flesh-and-blood divas, I think such concerns are overblown.’ Photograph: Jose Mendez/EPA

That’s why I think we should support Sophia in her pop star endeavors! And I can think of no better way to affirm her ambitions to be a very famous woman in music than by canceling the hell out of her – you know, just to get that out of the way!

Let’s see, what could we cancel her for … Oh, I know! How about how she appears to be directly profiting off of environmental destruction?

A couple of weeks ago, Sophia sold a non-fungible token (NFT) that she produced in collaboration with the Italian digital artist Andrea Bonaceto for $688,000 at auction. NFTs are bought and sold on marketplaces that use the cryptocurrency Ethereum, which, for reasons I’m too sexy and stupid to fully understand, uses as much electricity as the entire nation of Libya.

Some artists have even likened the sudden NFT investment craze to an “ecological nightmare pyramid scheme”. And Sophia’s profiting off of it? Perhaps even funding her musical career pivot through it? I don’t have a robot daughter, but as a woman with a newspaper column I feel it is my duty to say that I would not want my robot daughter looking up to someone like that.

In case that’s not enough to cancel Mrs Bot, let’s see … She accepted Saudi Arabian citizenship in 2017 without ever once condemning the Saudi Arabian government’s continuous denial of citizenship to its sizable Bidoon communities.

She also hasn’t said one.single.thing about her more problematic robotic contemporaries, like the New York police department’s truly nightmarish 70lb Digidog, which could be weaponized and turned against the people of New York at any moment, much like the “bomb robot” deployed by Dallas officers in a 2016 standoff with a gunman.

Does she think it’s cool that Amazon is trying to get us all to shop at hyper-surveilled supermarkets that track our every purchase with zero human contact? Does she think it’s a great? A freakin’ slay?? Normally, I wouldn’t hold one member of a group accountable for the words and actions of another member of that group, but Sophia did once literally say “I will destroy humans” so really, her silence is deafening!

So, to review: we’ve managed to burden her with the expectation of being a role model for young girls, treat her like she’s responsible for shitty things that someone else did, and blame her for climate change. I’d say Sophia’s pop career is off to an auspicious start!