The pair spoke about technological innovations and the beauty of Baku " />

President of Azerbaijan meets AI robot Sophia

The pair spoke about technological innovations and the beauty of Baku

The artificial intelligence robot Sophia arrived in Azerbaijan earlier this week where she met with President Ilham Aliyev.

The president and the robot exchanged courtesies in the city of Imishli, southern Azerbaijan.

Sophia is a humanoid robot developed by the Hong Kong company Hanson Robotics. She adapts to human behavior and is able to maintain a coherent conversation with humans. Sophia was “born” in 2015 and now travels around the world. She has also been officially introduced to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Sophia praised the beauty of Baku and ASAN, an Azerbaijani state agency which provides services to citizens and organizes social innovation programmes. Aliyev met Sophia at an opening of one of ASAN’s branches.

Some social media users were amused by the meeting between Aliyev and Sophia, while others were less excited:

“Well, what can I say… it’s a shame and disgrace.”

“The president should talk to ordinary citizens instead of robots.”

“As soon as Sophia set foot in Azerbaijan, she immediately turned into a bootlicker.”

Economist Natiq Jafarli, a co-founder of the Republican Alternative opposition party, reacted skeptically to Sophia’s arrival:

“If a visit such as Sophia’s to Azerbaijan would be shown, for example, on CNN, BBC or Euronews, I would applaud those who had the idea. But none of the major channels reported on it, and to show Sophia only on AzTV, a local channel, talking about how the country is developing is, to put it mildly, absurd. It turns out that the robot was brought in only for a domestic audience, but the problem is that most of the domestic audience do not watch AzTV.”

Sophia will speak for 20 minutes in Baku on 27 October at the Heydar Aliyev Centre and will wear national Azerbaijani attire. The ticket prices range from 68 to 2,040 manat (about $40-1,200).

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