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Robot Shibuya Mirai Becomes Tokyo Resident

Tokyo, Japan may have just become the first city to officially grant residence to an artificial intelligence (AI). The intelligence’s name is Shibuya Mirai and exists only as a chatbot on the popular Line messaging app.

Mirai, which translates to ‘future’ from Japanese, joins Hanson Robotic’s “Sophia” as pioneering AI gaining statuses previously reserved for living, biological entities. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia granted Sophia citizenship last month.

The robot, Sophia, took to the stage at a conference in Riyadh this week to express her delight at being given citizenship, which she described as ‘historical. Not everyone is happy with the Sophia’s citizenship, with some describing her as ‘bizarre’ and others referring to it as ‘Terminator in real time.’

Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, an area popular with fashion-conscious young people, has given the character his own special residence certificate.

“His hobbies are taking pictures and observing people,” Shibuya Ward said in a statement seen by the AFP news agency. “He loves talking with people. Please talk to him about anything.”

He can reply to messages and make light-hearted alterations to selfies he is sent.

Shibuya said the project aimed to make the district’s local government more familiar to residents and allow officials to hear their opinions.

And while we may be far from having artificial intelligences that possess human-level consciousness, the legal and ethical frameworks should be in place well before that level of sophistication is possible.