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Saudi Arabia's first humanoid robot knows not to talk about sex or politics, its creator says

An image of 'Sara' the humanoid robot, created by the Saudi firm QSS AI and Robotics.
An image of 'Sara' the humanoid robot, created by Saudi firm QSS AI and Robotics.Courtesy of QSS AI and Robotics
  • Saudi Arabia's first humanoid robot, Sara, has been designed to avoid discussing sex or politics.

  • Riyahd-based QSS AI & Robots created Sara using its own language learning model.

  • Another of its robots appeared to inappropriately touch a reporter at an event this month.

Saudi Arabia's first humanoid robot won't talk about sex or politics because she is Saudi, her creator says.

Elie Metri, the CEO of Riyadh-based QSS AI & Robots, told Business Insider that "Sara knows that she's a girl, she's 25 years old, she's 1.62 centimeters, she's wearing Saudi clothing."

Metri added: "She should be nice, not talking politics, not talking sex because we're in Saudi Arabia. It shouldn't go into those topics."

Sara, who wears a traditional Saudi abaya, a modest robe-like dress, is the first humanoid robot designed and manufactured in Saudi Arabia and possibly in the Middle East.

She's bilingual, speaking both Arabic and English.

Metri said Sara uses the company's own language learning model — an AI program designed to recognize and generate text and speech.

LLMs are trained using machine learning on huge sets of data.

"We don't rely on anyone else's libraries, not even ChatGPT," Metri told BI.

Saudi Arabia's legal system is based on Sharia law, though there have been attempts to modernize Saudi society in recent years.

These include relaxing rules on dress codes and on women driving.

Nonetheless, women can still be punished for political activism, and discussions of sex and sexuality are off-limits.

Metri said Sara garnered widespread attention following her appearances at various tech expos, effectively spotlighting Saudi Arabia's advancements in robotics and AI.

However, an incident earlier this month involving the company's other humanoid robot, Muhammad, went truly viral.

In a video, the robot appeared to extend a hand to touch an Al Arabiya reporter's backside. She can be seen responding with a stern glare and a raised palm.

On X, social media users accused the robot of inappropriately touching the reporter.

"I have more than six or seven pages of links from around the globe," said Metri, who appeared to be unfazed by the media attention.

He said that, in person, it did not appear that Muhammad inappropriately touched the reporter.

"While humans are speaking, we move hands, we are not mannequins," he said. "It's the same for a robot."

Metri said that, in his view, the robot slightly moved its hand and fingers while speaking, and because the reporter was standing too close to Muhammad, it lightly touched her jacket.

"Sexual assault is totally different from a robot hand touching the jacket of a lady," he said.

Despite the ensuing social media frenzy, Metri said he's not concerned by the incident, and nor were attendees of the DeepFest conference in Riyadh where it occured.

"The weirdness is that in the whole Middle East, even in Saudi Arabia, no one saw this as bad because they know it's a robot," he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider